Refuges ‘turning away’ substance misuse women

Victims of domestic violence with substance misuse problems are
being turned away from refuges because their needs are seen as too
complex, women’s organisations have warned.

Marai Larasi, executive director of the Nia Project, formerly
Hackney Women’s Aid, told a seminar that most workers lacked the
skills and knowledge to cater for women with both sets of

She said: “Most refuges do not accept women with drug and alcohol
issues as workers are afraid they cannot deal with them.

“Working with the overlap of substance misuse and domestic violence
issues presents big challenges on resources and workers’

The Nia Project is seeking funding for a specialist refuge to
address the needs of women with domestic violence and substance
misuse problems that would be the first of its kind in the

Larasi also highlighted that women were more likely to seek help
from voluntary organisations as fear of having their children being
taken away made them reluctant to engage social services.

Sarah Galvani, lecturer in social work at Birmingham University,
said there was little training for workers in dealing with both
substance misuse and domestic violence.

She also pointed to the difficulty of establishing how many women
were affected due to a lack of evidence.

Michelle Newcomb, project co-ordinator at the Stella Project, which
offers training for domestic violence and substance misuse workers,
urged agencies to work more closely together.

She said: “There must be greater political will to provide specific
funding to bring the two sectors together.”

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