HomeAid Orange County

Why Does She Stay?

by Maricela Rios-Faust, MSW, LCSW, CFRE, Chief Executive Officer for Human Options

November 16, 2017

Why does she stay? Trapped between domestic violence and homelessness.

The violence at home continued to escalate and Amber regularly feared for her life. She knew her children needed to feel safe, yet the threat of homelessness paralyzed her. Asking why Amber stays underestimates the debilitating impact of being trapped between domestic violence and homelessness. Can you imagine being faced with the heart-wrenching choice to remain in a dangerous situation or to leave with no safe place to go?

Sadly, Amber is not alone. Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women and children. The National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that 92% of homeless mothers had experienced severe physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives, with 63% reporting instances of intimate partner violence.

Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union reports that half of all homeless women and children are fleeing abuse. Even more sobering is the reality that often times women in abusive relationships have no place to stay once they are able to break free of their abuser, since the impact of violence can trickle down and threaten families and friends that offer help. Other contributing factors include economic barriers imposed by the abuser, such as stalking and harassing women at their place of work which can, intentionally or unintentionally, sabotage their ability to maintain employment.

Through my work at Human Options, I’ve met these families. I’ve seen what it means to not have a place to call “home” during this vulnerable time. The interconnection between domestic violence and homelessness is undeniable and safety and stability play vital roles towards achieving a path forward.

At Human Options, we provide a safe haven and life changing programs to help abused women and their children rebuild their lives. Every year, approximately 325 mothers and children come through our emergency shelter doors. We offer a holistic approach towards achieving safety and stability, addressing the unique and sensitive needs of each and every victim.

Human Options offers an array of client-centered services that include shelter, crisis intervention, financial literacy, legal advocacy, therapeutic services, as well as assistance securing stable housing even after victims leave the protection of our shelter. To meet the ever present need of finding affordable housing, Human Options also offers transitional housing, which allows us to continue providing individualized services focused on reducing the risk of homelessness.

In order to prevent and end homelessness, Human Options and HomeAid have continuously worked together to promote safety and stability for women and children.


Learn about the housing HomeAid has developed to help women and children who are survivors of domestic violence and how you can support HomeAid’s Housing Development program.


HomeAid has been ending homelessness with Human Options since 1992, by developing two homes and adding 40 beds for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. Human Options programs are also recipients of the HomeAid Essentials campaign and other HomeAid Community Outreach activities.