Life on the Streets: Victimization and Psychological Distress Among the Adult Homeless

Ronald L. Simons, Les B. Whitbeck, Andrew Bales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Life-style/exposure theory and research findings concerning the consequences of criminal victimization were used to generate a set of hypotheses concerning the causes and consequences of criminal attack among the homeless. The sample for the study consisted of 79 homeless people residing in a midwestern state. The results largely supported the predictions. Employment problems, substance abuse, and, to a lesser degree, a history of psychiatric treatment increased involvement in a life-style based on desperate survival strategies (e.g., panhandling, rummaging through dumpsters, collecting cans, etc.). High utilization of these survival strategies was associated with high risk of criminal victimization. Being the victim of criminal attack, in turn, reduced feelings of self-efficacy and increased psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-501
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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