Author Information

Paulina Aguilar Delgado
Mya Nunes


Research indicates mixed shelters do not respond adequately to the needs of homeless women that have suffered trauma-related events; as female victims, these women are part of two systematically vulnerable populations who are subject to constant revictimization when trying to reintegrate into society. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the services delivered to adult homeless women who have been affected by trauma-related events make them feel safe, and whether the services provision is both gender specific and based on a trauma-informed approach. St. Vincent de Paul’s Ozanam Manor is a mixed gender transitional shelter serving homeless seniors in the Phoenix area. A recent program evaluation indicated that several of its female clients had revealed concerns of being revictimized in the shelter. This research study employed qualitative methodology, and the data was drawn from seven in-depth interviews. The analysis was conducted via naturalistic perspective to study homeless women in their own natural settings and to provide a rich, contextualized understanding of trauma and victimization experiences. The findings of the study revealed that the residents are given the assistance and support they require to heal from their trauma, and that emotional and psychological requirements are critical aspects to healing. Also, it was found that fear of men was not the main issue for women in a mixed transitional shelter. Instead, their concerns were focused on the coexistence between the female residents and the problem-solving process followed by the agency. A great percentage of homeless women have been exposed to additional forms of trauma, such as neglect, psychological, physical, and/or sexual abuse during a given stage of their lives (Hopper et.al., 2010). By understanding the dangers and challenges that a homeless woman who has been exposed to trauma may confront, the way society perceives others who have experienced similar traumatic situations, regardless of gender or color, may improve.

Note on the Author

Paulina Aguilar Delgado is a junior and Departmental Honors student, majoring in Criminal Justice. Mya Marcelina Nunes is a senior Departmental Honors student in Criminal Justice, graduating in May 2022. Mentored by Dr. Francisco Alatorre, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Paulina and Mya were awarded an Adrian Tinsley Program (ATP) collaborative research grant to conduct this community-based research in Summer 2021. Paulina, who grew up in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, has long been interested in the areas of crime and justice, social inequality, and advocacy for those who are systemically underserved. Mya was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, in a single-parent household. Her family is from Cape Verde and she is a first-generation college graduate. Her interest in research was sparked by a study she conducted in her Research Methods course, about the difficulties faced by unaccompanied immigrant teens who have crossed over the U.S. border from Mexico. Both Paulina and Mya believe that having the privilege of working with vulnerable people and learning about their needs for trauma-informed care from an objective and evidence-based perspective has been a major step toward their future careers dedicated to social justice. After graduation, Paulina plans to go to law school, and Mya plans to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice and work in law enforcement leadership.

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