One in five women who suffer violence will also experience homelessness compared to just one in a hundred who have no experience of violence, according to national data, and yet homelessness services do not currently reflect these women’s needs.
Based on research published today, the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) and the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) call for responses to women experiencing homelessness and violence, to be “gender informed.” This means that services provided by local councils and other bodies should be better tailored to meet the distinct experiences faced by women, such as trauma and anxiety.
In some cases, women who suffer violence are still being sent to mixed-sex accommodation, where they can feel unsafe and become retraumatised. Women say that they sometimes sleep rough or in other unsafe situations if they cannot access single-sex housing.
Dr Kesia Reeve, principal research fellow at CRESR, said: “It’s wrong that the woman experiencing violence rather than the perpetrator of the violence, is usually the one who has to leave the home, and is therefore at increased risk of becoming homeless. It’s also important to support women who have suffered historic experiences of violence, as well as those escaping it immediately. There’s currently not enough understanding of the needs associated with the trauma suffered by women in these situations.”
In other cases, the full significance of the impact of violence as a factor will often be missed as a reason for a woman becoming homeless as services focus instead on trauma responses such as drug or alcohol misuse.
Dr Lígia Teixeira, chief executive of the CHI said: “If we are to end homelessness for good we must pay attention to what the evidence is telling us. In this case, the report includes testimonies from 14 women who experienced homelessness and violence and who describe how difficult they found it to get support suited to their needs.
“There is a strong link between violence and homelessness amongst women, yet this is often not talked about.
"It is important that both policy and practice improve where these fall short in meeting the needs of women, including the needs of those with historic experiences of violence who are still living with its consequences.”
Read the full report here.
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