Safe and Unsafe Housing for Domestic and Family Violence Survivors: Practitioner Perspectives

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Safe housing is necessary for women who have left a domestically violent relationship. However, there has been limited attention paid to the meanings of safety beyond refuges and crisis accommodation. This article strengthens the conceptualisation of safe and unsafe housing through a focus on practitioners’ definitions. Our analysis draws from focus groups with 30 practitioners across six services in Adelaide, Australia, working with young women to find and retain housing after a violent relationship ended. Practitioners understood safe housing as essential to women’s wellbeing but there was less clarity around its meaning. Practitioners focused on unsafe housing across three dimensions: un/safe relationships, un/safe dwellings and un/safe communities. 


The provision of safe housing to women who have experienced domestic and family violence requires a recognition of its multiple dimensions beyond physical safety. 

Practitioners’ difficulty in defining safe housing may minimise their capacity to recognise housing as a “recuperative space” that facilitates women’s autonomy after leaving a violent partner. 

Successfully providing safe housing is a process that incorporates elements of being safe and unsafe.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Social Work
Early online date14 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2024


  • Australia
  • Domestic Violence
  • Family Violence
  • Housing
  • Lived Experience
  • Practitioner Perspectives
  • Recovery
  • Recuperation
  • Refuges
  • Safe Community
  • Safe Environment
  • Safe Homes
  • Safe Housing
  • Safe Location
  • Safe Spaces
  • Safety
  • Social Workers
  • Young Mothers
  • Young Women


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