Cycle of Risk: The Intersection of Poverty, Violence, and Trauma

Key Findings

Through this report, we have uncovered various findings that demonstrate that the same causes lay the groundwork for both poverty and violence. These findings also show that the unaddressed trauma that exists in impacted communities directly feeds into further poverty and violence.

  • People of color in Illinois are disproportionately impacted by violence. Black men aged 15 – 44 comprised over half of homicide victims in Illinois in 2015, while they make up just 3 percent of the state’s population.
  • While violence in Chicago and Illinois has been declining for decades, Chicago experienced a surge in violence in 2016, largely impacting a limited number of neighborhoods.
  • Systemic forces, both historical and current, contribute to the concentration of poverty and violence in communities of color. A major consequence of this ongoing legacy of state violence against people of color is that generations of people of color were denied the same opportunities and rights as whites, creating a cycle of entrenched racial inequity that persists today.
  • While certain populations bear the brunt of violent victimization, violence is an issue in all types of communities. The largest income disparity in victimization rates is in rural areas—the rural poor experience violent crime at a rate 192 percent higher than high-income people in rural areas.
  • The state budget crisis feeds directly into this cycle. Illinois has gone more than 18 months without a budget. As the state stumbles forward, operating by court order and inadequate emergency appropriations, people experiencing poverty are being abandoned. The infrastructure Illinois needs to address violence and poverty in our communities in the long term is being destroyed.