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When Women Must Choose Between Abuse And Homelessness

Even the baby, at 7 months old, seemed to know something wasn’t right. She cried and trembled, inconsolable. Her big brother, only 5, was tense. Their mother was scared and on the run, and they could feel it.

Lily, whose real name has been changed to protect her identity, had recently ended a relationship with her daughter’s father and things had turned ugly fast. He began stalking her, she said, constantly texting and threatening to take her life. She wasn’t safe at her mom’s house in Brooklyn, but she didn’t have enough money to rent an apartment on her own. So she packed as much as she could physically carry while toting two children, called a domestic violence hotline for referral to a shelter, and got on the train.

"You don’t know what location you are going to. You don’t even know what borough you are going to," Lily told The Huffington Post. "You can’t tell your friends or your family. Everything is uprooted."

In this way, like countless others before them, Lily and her kids became homeless. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. While the public often wonders why women don’t leave abusive partners, the answer can often be as simple as “And where would they go?” Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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