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When everyone has a home

Housing and debt helpline for Northern Ireland – 028 9024 5640

Domestic violence, relationship breakdown and housing

Domestic violence accounts for approximately one-fifth of all recorded violent crime in Northern Ireland. Whatever form it takes, domestic violence and abuse is rarely a one off incident, it is a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour which tends to escalate over time. It often continues after the couple have separated. The following statistics show the serious extent of the problem in Northern Ireland. 

  • Research shows that approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have, or currently experience domestic violence.
  • The police attend an average of 60 domestic-related incidents per day, but recognise that there is still a large amount of under-reporting of this type of crime.
  • On average, every week, the police attend over 400 domestic incidents and deal with over 100 domestic assault
  • Over 30% of all domestic violence starts during pregnancy.
  • The government strategy Tackling Violence at Home estimates that the cost of domestic violence in Northern Ireland, including the potential loss of economic output, could amount to £180 million each year.

Separation is one of the high risk times for victims where risk to life or serious harm is likely.  Being fully informed of what you can do to help someone who has already, or who wants to seperate from an abusive partner, is key to helping people in this situation. 

Helping a victim to keep their home

Victims can seek an Occupation Order along with a Non Molestation order to protect them and help keep them in their home. An Occupation Order can do a number of different things including;

  • Exclude a spouse because of their violence and abuse
  • Set out who has to pay the rent or mortgage and repair and maintain the family home
  • If a victim doesn’t have an automatic right to stay in the house after the relationship breaks down an occupation order can give protection from eviction for a given period.

Find out more about helping victims of domestic abuse. 

On average, there are seven people killed each year as a result of domestic violence in Northern Ireland. It is therefore vital to be fully informed of how you can help any victims that may reach out to you for help. Housing Rights is running a course on Domestic Violence, Relationship Breakdown and Housing on the 10 and 11 November, delivered by Oonagh Cullen , Learning and Development Manager in Victim Support NI. Oonagh has delivered training on Domestic Violence and Abuse to a wide range of Criminal Justice Agencies including the PSNI and the Northern Ireland Court and Tribunal Service, as well as other agencies outside the Criminal Justice arena.  The course will address;

  • Understanding domestic violence
  • Occupation rights of spouses & cohabitees, whether owner-occupiers or tenants, following domestic violence;
  • Impact of domestic violence legislation on occupation rights;
  • Rehousing options for victims 

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