In an era of rising violence against women and girls (VAWG) but a decrease in instances being referred to prosecution, now is the time for the housing sector to think seriously about how they are contributing to decreasing this issue.
The number of alleged rapes reported to and by the police has more than doubled since 2013-14, from 20,751 then to 58,657 in 2018-19 however, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is charging, prosecuting and convicting the lowest number of cases in more than 10 years. This is particularly pressing for women who are the primary victims and survivors of rape and sexual violence.
Below demonstrates how your housing association can become more trauma informed and play a part in caring for women and girls experiencing violence.
A good place to start is to ensure your housing association follows the below priority areas to improving the national response to domestic abuse:
- Bringing Communities together to take a multi-agency approach to reducing VAWG. This can be achieved by housing associations who collaborate with the criminal justice system, social care and health sectors to take action against VAWG. A good place to start is by joining your local Coordinated Community Response
- Train your staff. There are a number of charities in the UK who train Housing providers to aid them in taking a more trauma informed approach. Peabody is one of many who have helped to increase in reporting of domestic abuse 1425% in last 9 years.
- Follow the Domestic Abuse Accreditation Housing Alliance Accreditation Process which includes a free online self-assessment and workshops taking place nationally. This can be followed by an official accreditation lasting three years.
- Making your voice heard in policy. It is important that your housing association plays a part in keeping up to date with and responding to any VAWG, domestic abuse or stalker protection policy guidance by the government. Only this way can the government’s crucial policy on protecting women be shaped by the expertise and needs of the housing sector.
In considering the above, there are tangible benefits to the housing sector both for the individual experiencing VAWG and to the organisation itself.
The cost of emergency housing for survivors of domestic abuse amounts to £1.6 billion alone therefore preventative measures taken by housing associations could lead to substantial savings by cutting down the incidence of women who need emergency accommodation.
Furthermore, the individual experiencing abuse will be subject to a decreased length of time in abusive relationships, safer neighbourhoods, decreased instances of homelessness and a reduced cost to the public sector.
The above said, it is therefore paramount that housing associations begin and/or continue to take seriously their role in protecting women from the different forms that violence manifests itself in. The above 4 suggestions provide guidance as a starting point for this process.