At Housing 21, we believe that our residents and householders should not live in fear of violence or abuse from a partner or any other member in their household. Anyone experiencing domestic abuse will be treated in a sympathetic, supportive and non-judgemental way. A victim’s disclosure alone is sufficient for them to be given advice and assistance from staff as a matter of priority.
This page explains how you can get support if you are experiencing domestic abuse, or you suspect another Housing 21 resident may be experiencing or perpetrating domestic abuse.
- Speak to, telephone or email your Court Manager or any other member of staff on your court.
- Contact any of the specialised support agencies listed below.
- Report the abuse to the police by calling 101.
- If you are in immediate danger you must always contact the police on 999.
- If you cannot speak, just dial 999 and then listen to the questions which are being asked.
- You do not need to speak, you could just cough or tap your phone.
- You may be prompted to press 55 on your keypad but don’t do it immediately after dialling 999.
- Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.
What is domestic abuse?
The government's definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
Definitions of Abuse
Domestic Abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
- Psychological and Emotional
- Coercive Control
The definition includes honour-based abuse, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The impact of domestic abuse can range from loss of self-esteem to loss of life.
Psychological and Emotional Violence and Abuse has a profound impact on victims and their children. It can leave a victim with little confidence that they can do anything to change the situation. Examples include:
- Creating Isolation e.g. not allowing the victim to see other people, preventing them from making their own friendships, not allowing them to go anywhere on their own, causing them to be depressed and then using this depression against them.
- Use of threats, e.g. threatening to kill their family, children, friends, pets; to throw them out and keep the children; to find them if they ever leave; to have them locked up; to tell everyone they are mad.
- Putting them down – humiliating and undermining them in front of others or in front of their children; telling them they are stupid, hopeless, unlovable, that no one would believe them, or that they are a bad parent.
Physical Abuse can include: hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, hitting with objects, pulling hair, pushing or shoving, cutting or stabbing, restraining, strangulation, choking.
Sexual Abuse can include rape and coerced sex, forcing a victim to take part in unwanted sexual acts, refusal to practice safe sex or use contraception, threatened or actual sexual abuse of children.
Financial Abuse can include: controlling money and bank accounts, making a victim account for all their expenditure, running up debts in a victim’s name, allowing no say on how monies are spent, refusing to allow them to study or work.
Coercive and Controlling Behaviour
In 2014 the Government announced a new domestic abuse offence of coercive and controlling behaviour.
Controlling behaviour includes a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capabilities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten the victim.
This law helps protect victims by outlawing sustained patterns of behaviour that stop short of serious physical violence, but amount to extreme psychological and emotional abuse. Victims of coercive control can have every aspect of life controlled by their partner, often being subjected to daily intimidation and humiliation.
Coercive and controlling behaviour includes any or all of a range of purposeful behaviours including intimidation, isolation, emotional abuse and manipulation. These behaviours are often used to achieve power and control in an abusive relationship, and these behaviours reinforce the threat or reality of physical abuse.
Research has found that domestic abuse is experienced by both women and men regardless of age, disability or ethnic background. Elder abuse can be more detrimental to a victim’s wellbeing due to problems with mobility, mental health and social isolation. Older people may have come to accept some aspects of domestic abuse as the ‘norm’, depending on their generation. For example, in the past the male of the relationship was traditionally seen as ‘the breadwinner’ and thus have control over the finances and limit their partners’ access to money; we would now accept this as financial abuse.
Family and Inter-generational Abuse
Domestic abuse approaches have traditionally focused on heterosexual partner abuse, but more recently have addressed abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships.
More focus is required to address family and inter-generational abuse, and how it differs from partner abuse, for example if the perpetrator is the victim’s teenage or adult sibling, child or grandchild.
Careful consideration is required when dealing with family and intergenerational abuse due to the complexities of family composition and safeguarding implications.
The Care Act 2014 specifies that freedom from abuse and neglect is a key part of a person’s wellbeing. Abuse takes many forms, and practitioners should not be constrained in their view of what constitutes abuse or neglect.
The guidance outlines specific aims to stop abuse and neglect, prevent harm and address what has caused the abuse.
Making the link to safeguarding
Safeguarding concerns are only raised when an individual has care and support needs, whether these needs are met or unmet.
A significant number of adults who need safeguarding are often experiencing domestic abuse in some form. Despite the overlap between supporting abuse victims and safeguarding adults the two have developed separate professional practices.
If domestic abuse is an isolated issue and there are no safeguarding concerns then support can be sought via forums such as MARAC (the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference). If there is more than one safeguarding issue present, such domestic abuse in addition to physical or mental health disabilities then a referral should be made to Safeguarding Adults so that services can be coordinated to deal with the potentially complex issues.
However, we will always encourage staff to make a Safeguarding Adults referral even if it is just for information so that agencies can be mindful of our concerns, as there may be other issues we are not aware of.
There are also strong, evidence-based links between domestic abuse and child abuse. Exposure to domestic abuse is always detrimental to children, although impacts may vary. Children exposed to abuse at home may be affected by physical and/or emotional abuse, neglect and ongoing psychological damage.
This means that in domestic abuse cases where children are present practitioners have a duty to involve Children’s Services to ensure any children are adequately safeguarded.
I want to remain in my home. How can Housing 21 support me in doing so?
Housing 21 will do all we can to keep residents safe in their homes. We understand that it is very difficult to leave a relationship, especially when domestic abuse is happening. We also understand that you may not want to leave the relationship. No one at Housing 21 will tell you what to do – we will support you in finding the safest way to deal with domestic abuse and hopefully one day end it. We know that this can be a long process and our staff will give you support for as long as you need it. There are many options to help make you safe at home, including sanctuary services like changing locks and adding extra security measures to your home if you need them. These services are completely free of charge. We can also use enforcement laws to remove a perpetrator from your home if necessary.
I don’t want to stay in my home any more; what options can Housing 21 offer me?
Housing 21 has housing stock across the country; as a current tenant, you can apply for an internal transfer to any court that can meet your needs. However, the waiting lists for some courts can be quite long and many extra care courts require a nomination from the local authority for you to be granted a property. If you want to move quickly, staff can access all available void properties anywhere in the country to find a safe home for you as quickly as possible. If you need support with travel, staff can help you to access funds from other organisations to pay for this. We also have guest rooms across the country on most courts which you can access as a current tenant should you just need to get away for a short time. Staff will discuss the best options for your own safety and the safety of all other residents in our courts to find the best possible solution for you.
I want to talk to someone, but I'm worried the abuser will find out.
Housing 21 will not share any information with anyone unless you give permission. This includes other organisations and the police. However, we do have a duty of care to report to the police if a crime has been committed and/or if your or someone else’s life is in serious danger. We also have a duty to report any safeguarding concerns to the local authority – but we will not talk to your partner or the person causing domestic abuse about your disclosure or situation.
Other sources of help and support
There are many other options for support apart from Housing 21. These are some of the larger specialist organisations:
National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Galop LGBT+ Anti-Violence Charity
National Centre for Domestic Violence
Deafhope from Signhealth