Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Housing associations should fight harder to end the abuse of women by Aisha Sharif

When I worked for Women’s Aid I met a mother who had escaped war in Sudan. She’d seen people killed and she had been raped. She came to the UK for safety – only to be forced to flee her home with her two children when her husband became abusive.

The housing association said they couldn’t evict her husband because they had a joint tenancy, so she was forced into a refuge. She had to take her children out of school and leave her job. Despite this, she was an incredibly strong, supportive presence for her children and the other women in the refuge. Her children always had a cooked meal and they had a tutor as well as tennis lessons. She was also very supportive of other women in the refuge, giving them a shoulder to cry on.

Then one day she didn’t come out of her room. I found her repeating weird statements and realised she’d had a psychotic breakdown. Everything had boiled up inside her until she broke her.

I had no choice but to have her sectioned. That was the worst moment in my professional and personal life. I still remember how she gripped my arm as I left her in the hospital. I felt I had betrayed her.

I hoped I’d never have to experience anything like it again, but sadly, I have seen similar things since. I was appointed Viridian Housing’s first ever domestic abuse project officer in 2014, and I’ve used experiences such as these to make vital changes to the way the housing association tackles domestic violence, including encouraging women to take single tenancies, even if they are moving into a property with a partner. ...


This was first published on the Guardian on 24.8.16. You can find the full article here.

Inspired by our participation with the Write to End Violence Against Women awards organised by Zero Tolerance, we are now collecting examples of good journalism about domestic and sexual violence and abuse to make it clear that it is possible to write about DSVA without resorting to myths, misrepresentations, minimisation and victim blaming.



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