Working with Homeless Youth Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence

A young person looking sad.

We know that some homeless youth turn to “survival sex”—trading sex for cash or shelter—to meet their basic needs. Others leave home to escape physical or sexual abuse, only to find themselves at increased risk for commercial sexual exploitation.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has published a user-friendly guide to help professionals working with youth experiencing both homelessness and sexual violence. The 33-page resource summarizes risk factors for becoming homeless, discusses the overlap between youth homelessness and sexual violence, and provides tips for creating a safe and inclusive environment.

We especially like NSVRC’s checklist for building strong relationships with young people, as well as the breakdown of five core skills needed to aid that process:

  • Meeting their physical and emotional needs.
  • Creating space for them to express their self-identities.
  • Understanding the impact of trauma.
  • Honoring survival skills.
  • Being attentive and available.

The guide also shares recommendations for meeting the unique needs of youth in rural environments and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.  

Read “Linking the Roads: Working with Youth Who Experience Homelessness and Sexual Violence.”

You can also check out NSVRC’s recorded webinar developed as an introduction to the guide. First-time visitors to the site will need to create an account to access the recording.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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