Unsafe and unstable homes

People’s homes may be unsafe if they become a place where people encounter harm, abuse or violence, or feel threatened or harassed. This could be the case if someone is experiencing domestic violence, or if someone in the home environment is experiencing difficulties that cause them to act violently or abusively towards others.

The physical environment of the home may be unsafe, for example because of poor housing conditions, overcrowding, and unsafe structures and appliances. People exposed to these conditions may be involved in accidents or may develop an illness or disability.

People’s homes may become unstable if there is a lack of consistently and predictability. This could be because of abrupt or unplanned changes such as separation, the loss or introduction of a family member, financial hardship, becoming unemployed, or moving to another residential property (including moves into temporary accommodation, being evicted or becoming homeless).

Vulnerability to exploitation

People living in an unsafe or unstable household may experience abuse or exploitation at home. They may also lack protection against abuse and exploitation occurring outside of the home environment.

People may seek safety and security elsewhere, putting them at risk of being groomed into exploitative emotional, romantic or financial relationships.

Living in an unsafe or unstable home environment can lead to high and often prolonged psychological and physical stress. This can impact on people’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing. They may develop mental or physical heath difficulties or harmful coping mechanisms, such as a drug or alcohol dependency. Other individuals may take advantage of these vulnerabilities and dependencies and attempt to groom people into exploitative relationships and situations.

Children living in unsafe or unstable homes are particularly vulnerable as their physical, emotional and cognitive development may be adversely impacted. This can have long-term implications for their health, wellbeing, ability to cope with future adversity, and education and employment prospects. Adversity and trauma can increase vulnerability to exploitation in childhood and later life. More information can be found on our pages about trauma and adversity.