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How you can help stop domestic violence

Thursday 20 September 2018

Domestic abuse is one of the biggest issues in society today, but what as agents can you do to help stop it?

When escaping a violent partner, women are often forced to flee their homes with their children or seek support to remain safely in their home. The housing sector has a critical role to play in keeping them safe, but agencies can sometimes lack the skills, knowledge, or procedures to tackle domestic abuse with confidence.

The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) is a partnership between UK charity Standing Together Against Domestic Violence, and housing associations Peabody and the Gentoo Group.

DAHA works to improve the housing sector’s response to domestic violence by:

  • Setting an accreditation standard for social housing providers
  • Gathering best practice from across the sector
  • Developing service assessment tools
  • Supporting individual housing providers to improve.

An estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales (1.2 million women, 713,000 men).

Victoria Watts from DAHA believes the housing sector is ideally placed to identify, recognise, and prevent domestic abuse in their properties:

“DAHA believes that property managers have a vital part to play in raising awareness of domestic abuse and in supporting anyone who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

“We are certainly not proposing that managers directly intervene and offer the same response as a social housing provider. Instead property managers should consider a softer approach but one that really can make a positive difference. Don’t ignore potential signs and be reassured that there is help and advice out there for both yourself and your tenant.”

Key facts

  • 40% of all homeless women state that domestic violence is a contributing factor in their homelessness.
  • In 2013, 9,577 women and 10,117 children were provided with emergency housing in a refuge.
  • On a typical day, 155 women with 103 children are turned away from the first refuge they approach for help.
  • 90% of young people leave home because of family conflict, including witnessing domestic violence or being a victim of physical or sexual abuse.

Your role as a letting agent:

  • Raising awareness
  • Working within communities and knowing the community
  • Eyes and ears on the ground.

What can you do?

  • Provide information at the start of the tenancy on domestic abuse local support services. People often don’t know where to go for help and something as simple as knowing the right number could potentially save a life.
  • Think about any presenting issues through the lens of domestic abuse rather than just anti-social behaviour.
  • Recurring repairs to internal doors, walls, windows external doors and locks could be a sign of something else and shouldn’t always be considered as ‘malicious damage’.
  • Support your own staff suffering Domestic Abuse, and implement a staff policy. Download the toolkit for employers 
  • Train and increase awareness of concierge/cleaners/ window cleaners/ TV operatives/maintenance teams to recognise signs of domestic abuse.

Don’t assume that all reports of nuisance behaviour are just that. Take a step back and consider whether a complaint is really just about noise or could it be something more serious?

For more information, please contact Victoria Watts at DAHA: v.watts@standingtogether.org.uk