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Jacqui’s blog

Jacqui Dillon is an Independent Trauma Specialist, campaigner and writer whose expertise lie in mental health services. She has an extensive knowledge of surviving childhood abuse and has published numerous books and papers, she is also the expert lead for our Childhood Trauma theme. In her blog she discusses the impacts childhood abuse can have on the lives of adult homeless women.

“I blamed myself” – how childhood trauma can impact on women’s homelessness

“I blamed myself for the abuse I suffered; I blamed myself for my brother’s downfalls and for him messing around and getting my foster mum angry; I blamed my foster mum for putting me in that sort of situation where I was living in a unit for young people with emotional and behavioural problems. Because I wasn’t good at school. I didn’t, you know, I’d do my class work and I knew what I was doing but I’d get into fights…. I had constant battles with authority. I hated anyone that had any kind of power because I blamed them for taking me away from my mum and things like that.” Casey, 26

Casey’s story from St Mungo’s ‘Street Stories project’, sadly, is one I’ve heard before.

After one hundred years of denial and ignorance, it is now becoming more widely accepted that sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of children, alongside the impact of neglect, is a genuine and common phenomenon with potentially devastating long term consequences for the mental health of the survivors.

What is not widely recognised are the many overlapping ways in which childhood trauma can impact on adult lives, including complex needs such as serious mental health difficulties , substance use and homelessness.

For young women and girls in particular, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse in early relationships is too often ignored, until as adults they are left still coping with the after effects, excluded and stigmatised by society.

That is why I am delighted to be supporting the Rebuilding Shattered Lives campaign, which makes a clear link between childhood trauma and women’s homelessness, and draws together the interrelated challenges which women can face as adults, including ongoing abuse and sexual exploitation, mental health and substance use issues and involvement in the criminal justice system.

We need both early intervention work to prevent and address childhood abuse and trauma, as well as adult support services that work with women to process the impact that childhood trauma has had on their lives and therefore move forward with their lives.

I believe peer support and understanding as well as trauma informed services are an essential element of recovery and I hope through this theme we will hear from women themselves about what has worked for them, or where the system needs to change, as well as practitioners working in this area.

We are particularly keen to hear about:

  • Psychological support services which address childhood trauma for homeless women
  • Services which support girls in the care system or care leavers
  • Work on cycles of deprivation and intergenerational factors
  • Early intervention services
  • Support around sexual exploitation of young women

Please also submit any relevant research so we can gather this together to improve the support out there for women.

Jacqui Dillon, Independent Trauma Specialist