What we know about women who live on the street and their experiences with violence both as children and as adults is limited. Many dozens of studies and comprehensive literature reviews of physical and sexual violence committed against homeless women have been published. Many of these studies, however, have been more concerned with establishing the fact of violence committed against these extremely vulnerable women than in exploring the context and experience of this violence, especially in terms of contributing risk factors, the role of violence in the etiology and dynamics of homelessness among women, or the consequences of violence in other areas of these women’s lives.
In short, prior research has only presented a bird‟s eye view of women‟s experiences with violence on the street. Yet without a more complete understanding of the realities of living on the streets or in the shelters and all that these living conditions entail, we cannot possibly hope to eliminate these experiences or even design policies that might ameliorate them. The Florida Four City Study was designed to provide a more complete picture of violence in the lives of women without a home.
Funded by the National Institute of Justice, UCF Faculty Drs. Jasinski, Wright , and Mustaine and UNF faculty Dr. Jennifer Wesely conducted a study involving 200 face to face structured interviews with women from homeless shelters in four Florida cities (Tampa, Jacksonville, Miami, and Orlando). In addition twenty in depth interviews were conducted with women who were homeless and had experienced violence.
Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women (Northeastern University Press) has been hailed by Walter DeKeseredy of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology as “..an excellent and much needed contribution to the field”. It is refreshing to reach a rich scientific account of one of society‟s most compelling social problems that offers indepth qualitative data on the lives of people who typically suffer in silence.”