Council booked hotel for domestic abuse victim minutes away from ex-partner’s house

The hotel’s proximity to her abuser’s home left the woman scared she was going to bump into him on the street, reports Marco Marcelline

Main image credit: doidam10 via Canva, inset image credit: Hil Aked

A woman who fled her violent ex-partner has slammed Waltham Forest Council for putting her in hotel accommodation just one-mile away from his home.

Emily*, who has told the Echo she was subjected to repeated physical and emotional abuse over a seven-year relationship, says the placement left her “scared” and “anxious” that she was going to bump into him.

Late last month, Emily was physically thrown out of the house she was sharing with her former partner in Waltham Forest. Recalling the incident she said he “flew into a rage” and demanded she leave the house after he had mistaken an app notification for a text message. A verbal altercation led to him “pushing her filled-up suitcase” onto her, which knocked her to the ground, she says. 

Police came to the house and arrested him after a neighbour reported the incident. He remains on bail on the condition that he makes no indirect or direct contact with Emily. 

The incident was just one part of a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse that took place over the years they were together, she says. Just weeks before, she was left needing a crutch after he pushed her down the stairs, badly bruising her left big toe. The doctor treating her, she says, was surprised that her toe wasn’t broken from the fall. 

Further acts of abuse included being prevented from talking to family and friends, as well as control of her spending and finances. On one occasion he threatened to physically harm her mother if she came to visit her.

As her voice shakes, she says of her ex: “He drove me so far into the ground that I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

The council first became aware of her need for emergency housing the day after she’d been thrown out of her partner’s home. After staying overnight at a police station, officers there contacted the housing team. 

Emily was then made to wait all day to find out where she would stay, before a housing officer offered her accommodation “far-out” from London, which she turned down because she had a job starting in a fortnight and needed to stay in the capital. The officer then booked her for a housing assessment interview which was scheduled for two days later. 

Facing the prospect of sleeping rough, she contacted the homelessness charity Street Angelz, who crowdfunded money for her to stay in a North London hostel for two nights.

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Emily says she flagged where her partner was staying to the housing officer conducting the housing assessment interview. After the interview finished, she was told to wait for a phone call which took more than six hours to arrive. She then found out she had been placed in “reasonably distanced” accommodation for five nights. 

After those five nights were up, Emily was told to expect a fresh phone call from the council telling her where she would stay. She eventually received the news she would be staying in a hotel less than a six-minute drive from her former partner’s house at 10pm that night.

Emails shared with the Echo show that the council’s emergency housing team was told several times that the hotel was inappropriate and “high-risk” given its short distance from her ex-partner.

Despite this, Emily was booked into the hotel for twenty-two nights. She says she accepted the stay because she was “so scared” she was going to be sleeping rough. 

After staying there a total of four nights, Emily has since moved to new accommodation thanks to the help of management staff at the hotel.

Speaking before she was moved to a safer location, Emily said: “Where’s the [council’s] safeguarding? It doesn’t exist. Not only are [the council] putting me at risk, they’re putting the staff here at risk, and the other people that are staying here at risk. It’s a dangerous situation, really.”

Voicing her fear of being attacked by her ex in public, she said: “I wouldn’t put it past him to do something if he saw me on the street because he’s done things to me I thought he would never do.”

In a statement the cabinet member for housing Ahsan Khan, said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure in their home and we know how difficult the situation is for anyone experiencing domestic abuse. Our teams work hard to assist anyone at risk who approaches us for help, including finding emergency accommodation if necessary.

“Finding suitable accommodation – even in an emergency – can take time. There is a shortage of available properties across the whole of London and we must therefore sometimes look further afield, especially when an individual’s safety may be at risk. We will continue to work with the resident to understand her needs and ensure accommodation provided is safe.”

*Name changed to protect anonymity

Support for victims of domestic violence can be found here

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