Every day I have to deal with the very understandable frustration of women who I am supporting, who have fled their homes in fear with their children and who are not able to access appropriate housing. They are placed in temporary accommodation which in London may as well be permanent! or worse, are placed in B&B type accommodation. They face uncertainty and stress, not knowing when they will be able to settle and get their children back into a school. Not knowing what will happen to everything they have left behind. All this worry at a time when they should be feeling they have done the right thing by leaving the abusive relationship. That is what everyone tells them isn’t it?!
Leave! Be protective over your children. Remove them from the abusive environment. And of course this is the right thing to do. But is it any wonder women return time and time again to their abuser because the alternative is being placed in an area that they do not know, away from their support networks, with their children, who can not go to school. Not knowing when or even if they will see all their furniture and belongings. Not knowing when or if they will see anything which is familiar to them again! I applaud the women that stick it out because it is soul destroying! What about going into a refuge? I hear you ask. Well, from what I am told from women I have supported, it is equally as difficult to get into refuge now as it is managing to access temporary accommodation from the local council.
When I worked in a refuge, many years ago now, the phone rang, it was either a woman self referring or the national helpline. We would accept that woman. Even if we had no rooms available. If that woman was in crisis we would take her and her children and they could sleep on the lounge floor if need be as long as they were safe. We would then try to find her more appropriate space in another refuge the next day. Now, I am told, you need to speak to someone at the refuge and complete a lengthy assessment over the phone and the refuge then decides if you are suitable for the refuge. I have recently been told by a woman I was supporting that a refuge would not take her because last year, after an incident of abuse from her ex partner, she self harmed. The refuge she was speaking to said she would not be suitable for their refuge! WHAT!!??? I know things are difficult in the current political climate in regards to funding etc but come on!! Tell me a woman who hasn’t self harmed in one way or another that has been living with domestic abuse??
What is going on? We are nearly into 2020! Things should be getting better. Things should be getting easier for women who are experiencing domestic abuse. But they are not. So.……………………….
Don’t ask why women don’t leave……………
Ask why our society makes it so difficult for them to leave!