Deborah K. Padgett, PhD, Robert Leibson Hawkins, PhD, and Andrew Davis, MA, School of Social Work, New York University; Courtney Abrams, MA, Department of Sociology, New York University.
In Their Own Words: Trauma and Substance Abuse in the Lives of Formerly Homeless Women With Serious Mental Illness
Article first published online: 24 MAR 2010
2006 American Orthopsychiatric Association
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume 76, Issue 4, pages 461–467, October 2006
How to Cite
Padgett, D. K., Hawkins, R. L., Abrams, C. and Davis, A. (2006), In Their Own Words: Trauma and Substance Abuse in the Lives of Formerly Homeless Women With Serious Mental Illness. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76: 461–467. doi: 10.1037/1040-3518.104.22.1681
This project was supported by Grant R01-MH69865 from the National Institute of Mental Health. We are grateful to the study participants for graciously sharing their lives with us. We also wish to thank New York Services Study interviewers Ana Stefancic, MA, and Maureen Hayes, MSW.
- Issue published online: 24 MAR 2010
- Article first published online: 24 MAR 2010
- Accepted June 3, 2006
- mental illness;
- substance abuse;
In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 formerly homeless mentally ill women to capture their individual life trajectories of mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma in their own words. Cross-case analyses produced 5 themes: (a) betrayals of trust, (b) graphic or gratuitous nature of traumatic events, (c) anxiety about leaving their immediate surroundings (including attending group treatment programs), (d) desire for one's own space, and (e) gender-related status loss and stigmatization. Findings suggest formerly homeless mentally ill women need (and want) autonomy, protection from further victimization, and assistance in restoring status and devalued identity. Avenues for intervention include enhanced provider training, addressing experiences of betrayal and trauma, and more focused attention to current symptoms rather than previous diagnoses.