Women’s History Month 2023

It's March, and once again Women’s History Month. Last fiscal year July 2021-June 2022, BEDS Plus clients served were 53% women. A little over 25% of these women were either fleeing domestic violence or are survivors of DV. Over the next three weeks, we are featuring our "Road to Independence Campaign," to shed more light on this important topic.

Not Named Until the 1970's

Domestic violence has plagued history yet was not widely recognized until the 1970s, when the term “domestic violence” itself was first used in a 1973 United Kingdom parliamentary speech. The 1984 Family Violence Prevention and Services Act provided federal support for domestic abuse services, and the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) improved criminal responses and community responses to domestic violence. The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act remains the “primary federal funding stream dedicated to...assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children,” and the Violence Against Women Act was renewed again last year as a U.S. federal law.

BEDS Domestic Violence Programs

BEDS has served domestic violence survivors since its founding, and we’ve recently begun dedicated programs to help them regain independent housing. In 2018, we acquired La Grange Area Transitional Housing (LATH), an organization that placed families with histories of chronic homelessness (having been homeless for a year or more with at least disabled member) in organization-owned condominium units. Once we took over operations, we began placing many qualified families who had survived domestic violence in the program. In 2019, we received funding through the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to start a Transitional Housing program for domestic violence survivors and other victims of crime. We have partnered with domestic violence service organizations throughout our communities, including the Crisis Center for South Suburbia, Constance Morris House, and Sara’s Inn.

One of the largest costs outside of housing that can impede progress for a survivor can be access to transportation.  Javon Harris, Director of Housing at BEDS Plus shares, “Our clients are rebuilding and can't afford gas to locate a job or apartment, car repairs, bus passes and Ubers to doctors and therapists. Not having access to transportation stalls a survivor’s ability to maintain and gain employment and is a leading expense for our agency.” Abusers also often create an environment of dependence, financially isolating individuals. This is one of the many reasons why women stay with their abusers. Miriam Martinez BEDS DV Housing Development Manager added, “BEDS Plus sees too many women who find themselves homeless when they decide to leave their abuser. We partner with domestic violence agencies and are a direct resource providing assistance for survivors. Your contributions will directly assist women and families with stability through supportive services and housing.  It is very common for BEDS domestic violence clients to have little, or no credit and housing is a crucial step to security and transformation.”

You can support our services for women who have survived domestic violence by donating money here.

Written by: Grant Suhs, Communications Specialist