Sisters Uncut is an organization dedicated to opposing ‘cuts’ in government help for domestic abuse victims. In one instance, they were approached for help by a young lady with three children—all of whom were abused by her husband. The lady pleaded for help because the government had deemed it ‘reasonable’ for her to return to her lodgings. They refused to help her because she already had a place to live, completely overlooking the eminent danger lurking inside her home. Only when Sisters Uncut made this ruling public and consistently contacted councilors did they admit their decision was wrong.
But how many other cases like this exist? Women that are forced to flee their homes because of an abuser often have nowhere else to go. This is due to the fact that abusers are often the breadwinner for the household, leaving the victims with no financial means of moving out. Assisted housing services from the government often lack funding and space, resulting in long waiting lists that could take years to clear up. This leaves the victims with only two choices: to endure the abuse or live on the streets.
Those who remain in their homes always do so out of fear. Fear of losing financial support, fear of being alone, even fear of being killed. A study has proven the biggest reason men kill their wives to be separation. There is also a lingering fear that the abuser might harm the victim, their children, or even indirectly involved people. In fact, one fifth of homicide victims are not the abuse victims themselves, but people who try to interfere. This includes concerned friends and family members, neighbors, and police officers. The constant fear of hurting others or being hurt themselves leads these victims to continue to endure the abuse.
On the other hand, victims can decide to flee the household, yet wind up displaced with nowhere else to stay. Surveys taken in 2013 recorded that 16% of all homeless were once victims of domestic abuse, and that 50% of homeless women responded that domestic abuse was the direct cause of their homelessness. That’s nearly two hundred thousand women and children sleeping on the streets. On nights when the homeless shelters are full and government-funded transitional housing is packed, families have no choice but to sleep out in the open. This causes them to become susceptible to all harm, ranging from the biting cold of the night to gang violence.
The government has put measures in place in an attempt to aid the homeless. One these aforementioned measures has been to construct more homeless shelters, but simply having a place to defend themselves from the elements isn’t enough. There should be aid for families suffering from domestic abuse that punish the abuser instead of forcing the victims to flee. A government-funded program that would address both of these concerns would finally be able to cut down on the amount of people suffering in the streets due to circumstances they can’t control.
“Domestic Violence and Homelessness.” National Coalition for the Homeless, 2009, 15 Feb 2020, www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/domestic.html.
Foster, Dawn. “How Can Women Flee Domestic Abuse If They Have Nowhere to Go?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 July 2016, 15 Feb 2020, www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/jul/08/women-domestic-abuse-social-housing-southwark-council-sisters-uncut.
“Homelessness and Domestic Violence.” DomesticShelters.org, 7 Jan. 2015, 14 Feb 2020, www.domesticshelters.org/resources/statistics/homelessness-and-domestic-violence.
“NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation's Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org/why-do-victims-stay.