Housing supports needed for domestic abuse victims

20 June 2023

Labour justice spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has expressed his deep concern at the rise in contacts to Women’s Aid support services.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“The Women’s Aid report published today casts a stark light on the depth and breadth of domestic violence incidents throughout the country. It’s clear that there are many structural issues that are impacting women experiencing violence in their home – namely, the housing crisis.

“To feel unsafe in your home, what should be your sanctuary, is a harrowing experience. As Women Aid points out, the lack of appropriate accommodation for survivors of abuse, as well as the housing crisis more generally, is limiting the options for a safe home for many.

“If a woman lives with her abuser, escaping a domestic abusive relationship often means facing into homelessness.

“Victims of domestic abuse exist in a hidden form of homelessness that is not addressed in national homeless figures. Domestic abuse refuges offer amazing support to women and children facing into these situations, but spaces are limited, as Women’s Aid rightly points out.

“Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime. That is why it is so important to ensure that victims are supported to stay within their community and away from their abuser.

“Labour is calling on the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Justice to address the issues in housing that are preventing women and victims of abuse from escaping this trauma.

“Labour would ensure that victims of domestic abuse are given access to accommodation and housing supports – regardless of their tenure status or home ownership status – in situations where the abuser is a joint tenant or co-owner of the property, until such a time as the victim’s tenancy or ownership is resolved.

“If a woman has a joint interest in a home shared with a violent partner, Labour would ensure that she is entitled to social housing or financial supports, without having to have proof of judicial separation if they have engaged with domestic violence service providers.

“We believe that it should also be possible for those fleeing domestic violence to be able to easily move social housing lists, to move county and to swap position onto another list once certain criteria are met.

“The chilling testimony in the Women’s Aid report highlights just how much work we must do to embed a zero tolerance approach to domestic abuse. Labour would reiterate our calls for increased refuge centres nationwide – there are currently nine counties without a refugee centre; Carlow, Cavan, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon and Sligo.

“At a minimum, every county should have a refugee centre so that victims of abuse can remain in their community supported by friends and family.”

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