Sometimes, signs of abuse or vulnerability are not that easy to spot. You may just get a feeling that something isn’t quite right.
It can be hard to act on a feeling without any evidence, but always trust your judgment.
There are a number of tell-tale signs of abuse to look out for - in someone’s behaviour or the condition of their property.
Things to look out for:
- Signs of physical violence – does someone have visible marks on their wrists, face or body?
- Is their home damaged – are there holes in the walls or doors? Are cupboard missing doors or windows broken?
- Does the person come across as nervous, anxious or afraid? Do they appear withdrawn and avoid making eye contact?
- Does the person try to hide damage to their property or injuries from you?
- Do they have untreated medical conditions or injuries?
- Is their home chaotic looking and dirty? Are there lots of flies? Can you see soiled bedding and clothes?
- Is there any evidence of drug or substance misuse?
- Is anyone unbathed? Do they have severe body odour?
- Does a child act in an inappropriate way in your company. Such as using sexual explicit language or using sexually explicit behaviour
- Does anyone appear dehydrated or malnourished? Do they beg you for food or drink or money?
How do I report abuse taking place in Derwent Living properties?
If you believe abuse is taking place or if you feel that someone is vulnerable and requires help please take immediate action:
Document the date, time, place, who was involved and names of other possible witnesses and if possible immediately contact Derwent Living.
Call 01332 346 477 in office hours.
You can also contact the relevant local authority in your area.
If you think a crime has been committed or someone is in immediate danger, always dial 999.
To contact the Police non-emergency number dial 101
Always, trust your judgment and don’t be afraid to report something you see.
Agencies that can help
If you are concerned about yourself or others you can contact the below organisations for additional help and advice.
- Help for women - the National Domestic Violence freephone helpline 0808 2000 247 or visit the website nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
- Help for men - Men’s advice line freephone 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm), ManKind on 01823 334 244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Help for LGBT+ - Galop on 0800 999 5428 or email email@example.com
- Forced marriage or honour crimes - Karma Nirvana 0800 599 9247 or The Forced Marriage Unit - 020 7008 0151.
- Concerned about your own abusive behaviour? Contact Respect on freephone 0808 802 4040
Concerned about someone you know? Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app providing support and information to anyone who is concerned that someone they know is experiencing domestic abuse.
- Safe Spaces offers discreet specialist support for people experiencing domestic abuse. The Safe Spaces webpage does not appear in your internet history and has a quick exit function.
Staying safe online
If you are worried about someone knowing what web pages you have been looking at, there are things you can do to hide this information. We have put together a guide to staying safe online which covers hiding your web activity, how to remove your history, and making sure you can end emails safely.
People fleeing from domestic abuse usually can't take pets with them, so may be reluctant to leave their home. If there's somewhere safe for the pets however, it can help to make the decision to leave easier.
There are fostering services which can look after pets until their owners are in a better situation. Cats Protection and the Dogs Trust both offer services across the UK, or there might be a shelter in your local area.
Make a stand pledge
In June 2018, Derwent Living was the first housing association in the Midlands to sign up to the Chartered Institute of Housing's 'Make a Stand' campaign,
Over the next 12 months Derwent Living worked with customers and colleagues to meet four pledge commitments, which are:
Pledge one – Put in place and embed a policy to support customers who are affected by domestic abuse.
Pledge two – Make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on our website and in other appropriate places so that they are easily accessible for customers and staff.
Pledge three – Put in place a HR policy, or amend an existing policy, to support members of staff who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
Pledge four – Appoint a champion at a senior level in our organisation to own the activity we are doing to support people experiencing domestic abuse.