We have a duty to all tenants and a responsibility to challenge situations where we believe someone with a disability may be at risk.
Danielle Bishop is a Safeguarding Manager at Poplar HARCA, a housing association in east London
28 November 2019
What do you know about domestic abuse? Did you know that everyone’s experience of domestic abuse is different? That a ‘one size fits all’ approach to domestic abuse support doesn’t work? That disabled people are 1.5 times more likely to be a victim of domestic abuse?
Did you know that deaf women are twice as likely to experience domestic abuse, yet there is only one specialist domestic abuse service for deaf women in the UK?
It is clear that as a society we do not know enough about the domestic abuse that disabled people experience and the lack of specialist support available when they feel able to seek it. Domestic abuse is recognised as a huge issue in society but there are so many people with very different experiences that need to be considered.
A common element in domestic abuse for disabled people is their carer being the perpetrator. Shocking as this may be, it provides an additional health risk for this group of individuals. How often have we missed signs because we make an assumption about what is going on in someone’s home? Do we feel confident enough to question something we fear we do not have enough knowledge about? It is time to acknowledge that we have a duty to all tenants and a responsibility to challenge situations where we believe someone may be at risk.
Additionally, the extreme forms of coercive control and financial abuse disabled people can be subject to mean that support providers need to consider whether their approach is the most suitable. Vigilance is key. We need to be recognising signs and taking timely and effective action.
As housing providers we are in a unique position to be able to provide support to anyone experiencing domestic abuse and ensure that they’re getting the right support, whatever their needs may be. We need to consider how accessible our services are and whether we are equipped to manage it no matter how an issue presents, or whether we have the knowledge of local services to be able to provide support. Domestic abuse can and does happen to anyone at any time.
The next National Housing Federation domestic abuse forum will take place on 12 December 2019 in Sunderland. It will explore the issues for people from minority communities and how housing professionals can do more to support them in disclosure, support and recovery.
- We need to broaden our view of domestic abuse. By Chloe Brennan, a Tenancy Enforcement Officer at Regenda Homes
- If a man was experiencing domestic abuse, would you recognise it? By Helen Greig, Project Director for Building Better in our Futures team