Domestic Abuse victims are falling through the cracks into a spiral of homelessness a report warns. 35% of women and 8% of men who sleep rough or have experienced homelessness, found themselves in that situation due to some form of abuse.
The study found that vulnerable people are being failed by support services because of a lack of refuges and council housing, which forces them to sleep rough to escape violence.
The vital role of housing when leaving an abusive partner is painfully real. There is a lack of safe, affordable housing which can be the biggest barrier to someone leaving an abusive relationship. How can someone leave when there is nowhere to go? The report carries on to state ‘For someone who has had their autonomy and power stripped away by a perpetrator of domestic abuse, navigating the complexities of the housing system can be overwhelming.’
Most would agree that victims of domestic abuse should not be forced to leave their homes while their violent partner remains at home, unchallenged and unaccountable.
Victims who have fled to their local council seeking accommodation are often told that they need to return to the home to get proof of ID and other documents, putting them and sometimes their children at further risk of abuse. Quite often immigrant victims are assessed as having no recourse to public funds and are unable to claim housing benefit. These victims can be barred from the majority of refuges and supported housing services. The government immigration policy leaves victims trapped in abusive homes.
Victims often choose to stay in situations that are dangerous and abusive rather than facing the unknown dangers of sleeping rough. A choice no one should have to make.
10% of victims assisted with housing are often moved out of their local authority area. This disrupts not only the victim’s life but quite often their children’s too, thus leading them to further isolation with little or no support.
A government spokesperson has said: “Domestic abuse is a devastating crime and we are taking action to make sure survivors get the support they need. We’ve already committed £40 million until 2020 to support domestic abuse projects and we are also conducting a thorough review of the funding of services, which will report this summer (2018).”
If you or anyone you know is being or has been subjected to any form of domestic violence and abuse, or maybe your violent partner has made an application in the family courts and you have to attend, don’t delay, contact the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) at Emery Johnson Astills, either by phoning 0116 255 4855, or by emailing DVAD@johnsonastills.com.
A specially trained member of staff in the DVAD of Emery Johnson Astills will be able to provide advice as to what steps you can take to protect yourself and also whether you may be eligible for Legal Aid.