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July 20, 2022

Council House Tenants with Snotty Nosed Kids!!

I remember someone saying this to me years back when I told them I worked in a refuge for women escaping domestic abuse.  “Oh, those places are full of council house women with snotty nosed kids” they said to me!  I was deeply offended.  For a start, what is wrong with someone who lives in a council house?  I was brought up in one and still live in one!!  The fact is that women who choose to go into a refuge to escape their abuser do tend to be women who are in local authority housing and on benefits.  Why?  Well, let me tell you……

  • Refuges cost a lot of money!  Contrary to what a lot of people think, the rents to stay in one are high as they have to cover the costs of the building and the support element.  In London, the rents are upwards of about £500 a week!  REFUGES ARE NOT FREE!!!
  • If you work, you would not be able to afford these rents.  But if you are on benefits, you will get help to pay the rent.  Women who do work are often advised to give up their job!
  • If you own your own house, you may not be able to get housing benefit, therefore you wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a refuge.
  • If you have lived in local authority housing prior to going into a refuge, you can be fairly certain that local authority will help rehouse you, although of course, this may take a long time.
  • If you already claim housing benefit/universal credit, you are able to claim for help living in the refuge as well as keep the benefit going on your home for up to 52 weeks.  This can give a lot of women the breathing space they need to decide whether they want to return to their old home or move somewhere new.

Women who are fortunate enough to own property or have access to money are actually often trapped within abusive relationships as a result of the reasons above and the stigma that domestic abuse only happens to ‘council house women with snotty nosed kids’!!!.

I once shared a really interesting article to my social media accounts on a study that revealed higher educated women were slower to report domestic violence – Click here for article.

A survivor who was quoted in the article stated:

“I was a victim in a world where there was power, luxury and money. The stigma in those areas is double, because it is not expected, because there is fear of losing prestige, there is a lot of invisible violence”.

Many years ago, when I worked in a refuge, I used to also work on the refuge’s 24 hour helpline.  I took several calls one particular week in the middle of the night from a woman who refused to give me her name or where she was.  What she did tell me was that she was married to someone well known and her children went to private schools.  She said they were very wealthy and it was all this that was trapping her within the very violent relationship.  She told me of incidents of violence where she had been badly injured but was not able to go to hospital because she would be recognised.  That she could not go to a refuge because the press would find out where she was and be camped outside which would put the other women in the refuge at risk of being found.  She told me she envied the women who did not have the property and wealth she had and she would give everything to be on benefits and live in a council house!  I have never forgotten that woman and often wonder if she ever made it out of the relationship.  I didn’t even know her name but I will never forget what she said and how trapped she felt by what most of us wish we had!!

So if you ever hear someone describe the women that go to refuges as ‘council house women with snotty nosed kids’, please explain to that person that in actual fact, they are the lucky ones!!!

  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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