Implementation of Trauma-Informed Care in a Housing First Program for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence: A Case Study

  • Allison Ward-Lasher
  • Jill Messing Arizona State University
  • Jillian Stein-Seroussi
Keywords: Housing First, intimate partner violence, trauma-informed care


The intersection of trauma with the need for safe, stable, sustainable, and long-term housing is important when working with survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV advocacy agencies are advised to use a trauma-informed approach to help practitioners understand the impact of IPV on individuals. Housing First, a model addressing homelessness that provides permanent housing without preconditions, has been found to increase housing stability for survivors of IPV. Thus, we used a case study approach to examine how practitioners and administrators implement trauma-informed care in a Housing First program for IPV survivors. Trauma-informed care principles and the Housing First model were found to be complementary. The majority of clients in this program retained housing up to 3-months after services ended and increased their safety and knowledge of domestic violence. Combining Housing First with trauma-informed care may increase success for survivors of IPV. 


Allen, N. E., Bybee, D. I., & Sullivan, C. M. (2004). Battered women’s multitude of needs: Evidence supporting the need for comprehensive advocacy. Violence Against Women, 10(9), 1015-1035. doi:
Arnold, G., & Ake, J. (2013). Reframing the narrative of the battered women’s movement. Violence Against Women, 19(5), 557-578. doi:
Ayón, C., Messing, J. T., Gurrola, M., & Valencia-Garcia, D. (in press). The oppression of Latina mothers: Experiences of exploitation, violence, marginalization, cultural imperialism and powerlessness in their everyday lives. Violence Against Women.
Baker, C. K., Billhardt, K. A., Warren, J., Rollins, C., & Glass, N. E. (2010). Domestic violence, housing instability, and homelessness: A review of housing policies and program practices for meeting the needs of survivors. Aggressive and Violent Behavior, 15, 430-439. doi:
Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M., … & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Campbell, J. C. (2003). The Danger Assessment. Retrieved from
Campbell, J. C., Glass, N., Sharps, P. W., Laughon, K., & Bloom, T. (2007). Intimate partner homicide: Review and implications of research and policy. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 8(3), 246-269. doi:
Culhane, D. P., Gross, K. S., Parker, W. D., Poppe, B., & Sykes, E. (2008). Accountability, cost-effectiveness, and program performance: Progress since 1998. Retrieved from
Dedoose Version 7.0.23, web application for managing, analyzing, and presenting qualitative and mixed method research data (2016). Los Angeles, CA: SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC. Retrieved from
Dichter, M. E., & Rhodes, K. V. (2011). Intimate partner violence survivors’ unmet social service needs. Journal of Social Service Research, 37, 481-489. doi:
Elliott, D. E., Bjelajac, P., Fallot, R. D., Markoff, L. S., & Reed, B. G. (2005). Trauma‐informed or trauma‐denied: Principles and implementation of trauma‐informed services for women. Journal of Community Psychology, 33(4), 461-477. doi:
Kulkarni, S. J., Bell, H., & Rhodes, D. M. (2012). Back to basics: Essential qualities of services for survivors of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 18(1), 85-101.
Macy, R. J., Giattina, M. C., Montijo, N. J., & Ermentrout, D. M. (2010). Domestic violence and sexual assault agency directors’ perspectives on services that help survivors. Violence Against Women, 16(10), 1138-1161. doi:
Mbilinyi, L. (2015). The Washington state domestic violence Housing First program: Cohort 2 agencies final evaluation report September 2011 – September 2014. Retrieved from
McDermott, M. J., & Garofalo, J. (2004). When advocacy for domestic violence backfires: Types and sources of victim disempowerment. Violence Against Women, 10(11), 1245-1266. doi:
Messing, J. T., O’Sullivan, C., Cavanaugh, C. E., & Campbell, J. C. (2016). Are abused women’s protective actions associated with reduced threats, stalking, and violence perpetrated by their male intimate partners? Violence Against Women, 23(3), 263-286.
Messing, J. T., & Thaller, J. (2015). Intimate partner violence risk assessment: A primer for social workers. British Journal of Social Work, 45(6), 1804-1820. doi:
Messing, J. T., Ward-Lasher, A., Thaller, J., & Bagwell-Gray, M. (2015). The state of intimate partner violence intervention: Progress and continuing challenges. Social Work, 60(4), 305-313. doi:
Montgomery, A. E., Hill, L. L., Kane, V., & Culhane, D. P. (2013). Housing chronically homeless veterans: Evaluating the efficacy of a housing first approach to HUD-VASH. Journal of Community Psychology, 41(4), 505-514. doi:
OrgCode Consulting. (2017). SPDAT. Retrieved from
Padgett, D. K. (2016). Qualitative methods in social work research (2nd ed.).
UK: Sage.
Padgett, D., Henwood, B. F., & Tsemberis, S. J. (2015). Housing first: Ending homelessness, transforming systems, and changing lives. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.
Patterson, M., Moniruzzaman, A., Palepu, A., Zabkiewicz, D., Frankish, C. J., Krausz, M., & Somers, J. M. (2013). Housing First improves subjective quality of life among homeless adults with mental illness: 12-month findings from a randomized control trial in Vancouver, British Columbia., Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48, 1245-1259. doi:
Pavao, J., Alvarez, J., Baumrind, N., Induni, M., & Kimerling, R. (2007). Intimate partner violence and housing instability. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(2), 143-146. doi:
Postmus, J. L., Plummer, S. B., McMahon, S., Murshid, N. S., & Kim, M. S. (2012). Understanding economic abuse in the lives of survivors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(3), 411-430. doi:
Postmus, J. L., Plummer, S. B., McMahon, S., & Zurlo, K. A. (2013). Financial literacy: Building economic empowerment with survivors of violence. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 34(3), 275-284. doi:
Powell-Williams, M., White, S. D., & Powell-Williams, T. (2013). "I help the ones that want help": Emotion work and the victim advocate role. Sociological Spectrum, 33, 258-275. doi:
Richmond, M. K., Pampel, F. C., Zarcula, F., Howey, V., & McChesney, B. (2015). Reliability of the Colorado Family Support Assessment: A Self-Sufficiency Matrix for Families. Research on Social Work Practice, 2015, 1-9. doi:
Schiff, J. W., & Schiff, R. A. (2014). Housing first: Paradigm or program? Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 23(2), 80-104. doi:
Slattery, S. M., & Goodman, L. A. (2009). Secondary traumatic stress among domestic violence advocates: Workplace risk and protective factors. Violence Against Women, 15(11), 1358-1379. doi:
Stark, E. (2007). Coercive control: How men entrap women in personal life. New York: Oxford University Press.
Strand, V. C., Hansen, S., & Courtney, D. (2013). Common elements across evidence-based trauma treatment: Discovery and implications. Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 334-354.
Sullivan, C. M., Basta, J., Tan, C., & Davidson II, W. S. (1992). After the crisis: A needs assessment of women leaving a domestic violence shelter. Violence & Victims, 7(3), 267-275.
Thomas, K. A., Goodman, L., & Putnins, S. (2015). “I have lost everything”: Trade-offs of seeking safety from intimate partner violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(2), 170-180. doi:
Tsemberis, S., Gulcur, L., & Nakae, M. (2004). Housing First, consumer choice, and harm reduction for homeless individuals with a dual diagnosis. American Journal of Public Health, 94(4), 651-656. doi:
Wilson, J. M., Fauci, J. E., & Goodman, L. A. (2015). Bringing trauma-informed practice to domestic violence programs: A qualitative analysis of current approaches. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(6), 586-599. doi:
Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.