Home isn’t always where the heart is

Recent reports have revealed that 46% percent of women were killed by a former intimate partner in the confines of their own home.

Call-for-community-ambassadors-in-domestic-abuse-awareness-campaign

Established in 2015, the Femicide Census, conducted by Women’s Aid and campaigner Karen Ingala Smith plays a vital role in the identification of patterns of femicide and the circumstances leading up to it.

Generally defined in the murder of women, because they are women, the census, for the first time, collected data on “overkilling” and the brutalities of using methods that are greater than required to kill victims.

Statistics included that of 139 women alone were killed in the UK last year, with 105 knowing their killer.

A staggering 76% victims were found to be killed by a man known to them, a colleague, a neighbour, a friend.

12% were killed by a family member, of whom 10 were killed by their son.

The report revealed that a further 82 victims were killed in their own home, with half of those women being killed by a former partner within the first month of separation.

This coalition of femicides has and continues to be vital when addressing the reality of male violence against women and the often-misogynistic conditions of men viewing women and children so much as their property as they do the bricks and mortar of the homes that they increasingly kill within.

In one instance, a victim was stabbed 175 times, while in others, women were “hit 40 times with an axe”, “bludgeoned repeatedly” and “battered beyond recognition”.

This year’s census looked to further reveal the repeated circumstance in which these women fall victim, the killings following a similar pattern and not appearing as isolated instances.

The census also addresses the shocking circumstance at which these women fall victim. In a place where security and comfort should be the most prevalent, the home often lends itself to be a minefield for abuse and fatality.

In November 2017, the first National Housing and Domestic Abuse group was convened, led by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA).

This was the first time that representatives from major Homelessness, Housing and Domestic Abuse formally met to discuss how to work together to tackle domestic abuse and address the approaches to housing as outlined in the governments Social Housing Green Paper.

Like that of the Femicide Census, it has become crucial in recognising that those who have experienced this type of targeted violence and other types of abuse in the home have insight and knowledge that service providers can learn from.

A foundation of basic awareness, it sets to ensure that all survivors perspectives are heard and embedded in the effective planning and monitoring of partnership initiatives.

Under this alliance, the groups response also highlights how social housing should be considered a core part of a ‘whole housing approach’ to domestic abuse and how all areas of housing should identify and respond to cases of domestic abuse at the earliest point.

In the partnership between Standing Together Against Domestic Violence (STADV), Peabody and Gentoo, an overall mission of improvement is embedded in cohesive policies and strategies when tackling domestic violence and housing globally.

Gudren Burnet, Senior Business partner at Peabody and has worked in the field of domestic abuse for 10 years, training over 43 Housing Provider’s nationally.

Speaking to Guddy, she revealed how in a time where housing providers should be the cornerstone of spotting early signs of domestic abuse and be the first point of contact for victims finding themselves in this position of vulnerability, a lot more still needs to be done.

She adds that, often, calls of violent crime committed within intimate relationships are not defined differently to other assaults.

The partnerships consultation of response and recommendation also recognises that housing continues to be an economic resource, used to manipulate and pose barriers when victims are succumbed to abuse by perpetrators, with charity, St Mungo’s revealing that 32% of the women they work with said that domestic abuse had contributed to their homelessness.

This year’s Femicide Report has further revealed the outstanding need for these associations to continue to pull all knowledge when responding to and being aware of domestic abuse, treating the protection of tenants as a minimum standard of practice.

Guddy adds that since its establishment in 2014, DAHA has provided various tools to aim to ensure the prevention of domestic abuse unawareness within the housing sector, providing community safety and support and encouraging these associations to address the overall language used when addressing these sensitive domestic cases.

Domestic abuse should be nothing but a priority. A safe and decent home is fundamental to a sense of security and our ability to get on in life.

DAHA offers free workshops and services to continue to tackle this issue, as well as the DAHA accreditation becoming the benchmark for how housing providers should respond to domestic abuse in the UK.

By undertaking Accreditation, associations are sharing DAHA and the governments mission to improve the housing sectors response to domestic abuse, the first step in delivering a consistent set of standards across housing providers in the UK.

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