Most women who flee domestic violence have nowhere to go (2022)

Sara Mayer’s youngest child often asks: “Mum, how many days will we stay here?” Each time, she tells him they won’t have to move again, but so far she has been unable to keep her promise. In 2013, Mayer fled her abusive husband and went to the UK from mainland Europe with her two children, but he found them. The family moved and tried to settle somewhere new, but time and again he tracked them down.

In 2018, he locked himself in the house with his teenage daughter, who only escaped when Mayer arrived with the police. He then texted his daughter repeatedly saying he would kill her mother. Six months later, when Mayer turned up at school bloodied and accompanied by police, her daughter stopped speaking to her. For the fourth time in five years, they had to uproot their lives: moving town, changing school, and leaving their friends.

Like many in their situation, the family was in danger of ending up on the streets. Domestic violence is a major cause of homelessness. Government figures show that in the year to June 2019, almost 24,000 people were made homeless in England directly because of domestic abuse.

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For those fleeing, it is increasingly difficult to find a space in a refuge, which offers temporary accommodation and intensive support. Councils cut funding for domestic violence refuges by almost a quarter between 2010 and 2017, and last year, Women’s Aid found that 64% of all referrals to refuges were declined. Its 2018 study showed 45% of people fleeing domestic abuse end up sofa surfing, and almost 12% sleep rough while waiting for a space to become free.

Finding settled accommodation can be even harder. According to latest government figures, just 2% of households made homeless because of domestic abuse between April and December 2018 were offered social housing. As a result, survivors can face homelessness or returning to their abusers when their time is up at a refuge. This is because councils are only required to provide housing for domestic violence survivors if they can prove they are more vulnerable than the average homeless person.

“It’s actually incredibly difficult to prove vulnerability because the evidence required is hard to obtain,” says Hannah Gousy, head of policy at Crisis. One woman who fled her home says she was asked by her housing officer to get a letter signed by her abuser stating that he had raped and attacked her.

In Wales and Scotland, cuts to refuges have been less swingeing and, crucially, anyone fleeing from or threatened with domestic violence automatically has a legal right to housing. This means the situation is much less acute for the 94,000 people who became homeless in those countries following domestic violence in the year to April 2018.

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The Welsh government decided in 2001 that anyone fleeing domestic abuse would be considered in priority need for housing. “The amount of resources that councils spend investigating vulnerability – in essence, working to find reasons not to help people – would be much better spent directly helping people to avoid homelessness,” says Heddyr Gregory of Shelter Cymru. Scotland abolished priority need altogether in 2012. Alison Watson, the deputy director at Shelter Scotland, says: “[That] means women fleeing domestic abuse will be considered homeless and given temporary accommodation and help to find a new permanent home. For some this creates a safe escape route where none existed before.”

Alison Brown has experienced the stark difference between the levels of support available from English and Scottish councils. She was living in the north of England when her partner threatened to kick the unborn child out of her belly. The abuse got worse when her son was born, and on two occasions her partner put them both out on the streets. She told the council they were homeless because of domestic abuse but was turned away, so she went back to her abuser. “I had to just bite my tongue and stay where I was. I couldn’t be homeless with a baby.”

Most women who flee domestic violence have nowhere to go (1)

Brown says: “I was so scared of him. People always say ‘just leave’, but it’s not easy when you’ve been emotionally worn down to a point where you are totally stuck. It took me a lot to be able to get up and leave.” One night in 2018, when her abuser was asleep, she got her keys and drove straight to Scotland and then took a ferry to an island off the coast, where she was offered temporary accommodation. Women’s Aid helped her apply for permanent housing and she recently got a secure tenancy for a two-bed property.

(Video) Domestic Violence is a Housing Crisis

In England, charities are lobbying for a change in the law – as part of the domestic abuse bill – so that anyone who is homeless because of domestic abuse is considered in priority need for settled housing. The bill, abandoned when Boris Johnson called the 2019 general election,is expected to be brought back to parliament before Easter.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, says: “Women are passed from authority to authority, with each failing to take responsibility for housing women and children escaping violence and abuse.” Those who councils agree to house once they come out of a refuge can be put in wholly inappropriate emergency accommodation, such as bed and breakfast with shared bathrooms, where single men and alcoholics are staying. “Women can feel isolated or unsafe again, which often sends them on a downward spiral,” says Beki Turner, the housing lead at charity, Rise, which runs a domestic abuse refuge in Brighton.

It was at this refuge that Mayer’s caseworker found a space for the family to start rebuilding their lives. Mayer’s face lights up when she talks about her son, who settled well at his new school. Her daughter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and received intensive support from mental health services. She, too, seemed to be improving. The family was due to leave the refuge after six months but, despite their circumstances, Brighton and Hove council did not deem them enough of a priority for settled housing. They ended up staying another three months at the refuge at great expense to the council, which pays not just rent but all the additional costs of specialist support that refuges provide.

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Local authorities are trying to address this situation. Rise has developed a project with the council to prioritise survivors of domestic abuse, so they can move straight from its refuge into long-term accommodation. The project is due to be implemented this year.

Sylvia Peckham, head of housing needs at Brighton and Hove council, says: “We’re trying to build on the positive move forward, and free up the refuge for the next families that need that level of support.”

In August, Mayer and her children finally moved into a two-bedroom private rental – largely funded by the council – near her son’s school and her daughter’s psychologist.

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Mayer has modest hopes for the future. She wants to stay in Brighton and find a job. She says: “If [my eldest] starts school, it’s like I have everything.” Her son drew a picture of his hopes, which he showed his teacher, saying: “I want a house and my mum to be happy, because she cries all the time.” Hopefully, one will lead to the other.

FAQs

What type of relationship has the highest domestic violence rate? ›

Women ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence.

What are the 3 phases in the domestic violence cycle? ›

It has three distinct phases which are generally present in violent relationships: Tension Building Phase. Violent Episode Phase. Remorseful/Honeymoon Phase.

Why do people go to a refuge? ›

A refuge is a safe house where women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse can stay free from fear. Refuge addresses (and sometimes telephone numbers) are confidential.

Which country has the highest rate of domestic violence? ›

Afghanistan

Why do people return to their abusers? ›

Victims stay or return for many reasons, such as: The deck is stacked against a victim when confronted with leaving or not. Abusers work very hard to keep victims in the abusive relationship. There is a real fear of death or worse abuse if they leave.

What state has the highest domestic abuse? ›

Kentucky has the highest domestic violence statistics in the United States, with 45.3% of women and 35.5% of men having experienced domestic violence.

How do you break the cycle of violence? ›

To break the cycle of violence, children need services that focus on problem-solving and conflict management skills, healthy self-esteem and self-worthiness. Positive peer groups and social support are also needed.

What is the time period of greatest danger for The Battered Woman? ›

Research indicates that the most dangerous time for a battered woman is after she ends the relationship. In the United States, research indicates that women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by their batterers than those who stay.

What is the primary symptom of battered woman syndrome? ›

Anxiety: Women with BWS have high levels of anxiety and hypervigilance when something doesn't seem right, Walker says. This leads to the fight-or-flight response. This could mean being startled by noises and other triggers, crying often, and having problems with sleep.

What is another word for refuge? ›

1 security, safety. 2 asylum, retreat, sanctuary, haven, stronghold.

How many female refuges are there in the UK? ›

These local services between them run 269 refuge services and 213 dedicated services for children and young people.

What culture has the least domestic violence? ›

Respondents in Norway, Israel, New Zealand, and Sweden reported the lowest frequencies of domestic violence (less than .

How safe is India for a woman? ›

India ranks 148 out of 170 countries in the 'Women, Peace And Security Index 2021'.

What is femicide law? ›

The new legislation defined femicide as a sex-based homicide committed against women, with the involvement of domestic violence, discrimination or contempt for women.

How many tries does it take to leave an abuser? ›

Survivors may leave and return several times before permanently separating from their abusive partner. In fact, research shows that it can take approximately 7 attempts before a survivor permanently leaves an abusive partner.

Why do people stay in toxic relationships? ›

A lot of people in abusive relationships stay in them because they love their partner and think that things will change. They might also believe their partner's behavior is due to tough times or feel as though they can change their partner if they are a better partner themselves.

What type of people do abusers target? ›

Abusers want someone who is already doing well in life, and also someone who has their emotions under control.
...
  • Victims of psychological abuse are often strong, confident, and successful.
  • This is because abusers are attracted to someone they think will be a "challenge" to break.
11 Aug 2017

Which state has the lowest rate of domestic violence? ›

10 States with the Lowest Rate of Domestic Violence Victimization
  • New York – 31.7 percent.
  • Rhode Island – 32.6 percent.
  • Idaho – 33.0 percent.
  • Utah – 33.6 percent.
  • Virginia – 33.6 percent.
  • Nebraska – 33.7 percent.
  • Minnesota – 33.9 percent.
  • Wyoming – 33.9 percent.

What is the punishment for domestic violence in the US? ›

Penalties for misdemeanor domestic violence

If charged with domestic battery, you will be required to pay a fine of $2000 and/ or serve a prison sentence in county jail for up to 1 year. An attorney could get charges for Spousal battery reduced to lower or no prison time and fines.

What percentage of domestic violence goes unreported? ›

About two-thirds of victims of the crime reported to police that year compared to 52% in 2019. Domestic violence victimizations often go unreported. US Department of Justice.

What are the 4 stages in the cycle of violence? ›

The cycle of abuse is a four-stage cycle used to describe the way abuse sometimes occurs in relationships. The stages—tension, incident, reconciliation, and calm—repeat themselves over and over again if the abuse follows this pattern.

Why is it difficult to break cycles of violence? ›

The cycle of violence has a physical, emotional, and verbal abuse component. It is often difficult for victims to leave their abusers because they have been living in fear or have had threats made against them if they report the abuse. This type of behaviour feeds into what we call learned helplessness.

Can cycle of violence be broken? ›

when the abuser admits sole responsibility for violent and abusive behavior and gets help. The cycle can also be broken when the victim safely and with support leaves the abusive relationship.

Why do victims blame themselves? ›

Victims sometimes blame themselves for the same reason others blame them; they want to believe the world is fair. Blaming themselves may also help them feel safer in some ways.

What are the signs or warning signs that someone may be an abuser? ›

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:
  • Extreme jealousy.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Unpredictability.
  • A bad temper.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Extremely controlling behavior.
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships.

Why do victims stay in contact with abusers? ›

A victim's reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped: the abuser will hurt or kill them, they will hurt or kill the kids, they will win custody of the children, they ...

What is buttered wife? ›

Definition of battered woman syndrome

: the highly variable symptom complex of physical and psychological injuries exhibited by a woman repeatedly abused especially physically by her mate. — called also battered woman's syndrome, battered wife syndrome, battered women's syndrome.

What are the four characteristics of battered woman syndrome? ›

In her book, The Battered Woman Syndrome, Walker says most women who are battered exhibit four characteristics: They believe the violence is their fault, they can't place the blame for the violence on anyone else, they fear for their lives and their children's lives, and they believe their abuser is everywhere and sees ...

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
23 May 2017

What is an example of refuge? ›

An example of refuge is what you seek when you go to a church and ask them to protect you from rioters outside. An example of refuge is a church that provides a place safe from danger. A place providing protection or shelter. A colony that was a refuge for religious nonconformists.

What is the biblical meaning of refuge? ›

1 : shelter or protection from danger or distress.

What's the opposite of refuge? ›

Opposite of shelter or protection from danger. danger. exposure. peril. endangerment.

How many times on average do you think a woman is assaulted before she gets effective help? ›

New SafeLives data shows that 85% of victims sought help five times on average from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse.

What percentage of domestic violence victims are female UK? ›

Sex. Data supplied from 26 police forces showed the victim was female in 73% of domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by the police in the year ending March 2021.

What percentage of UK murders are domestic? ›

Domestic homicide

This represents 19% of all homicides where the victim was aged 16 years and over during this period. Of the 362 homicides, 214 (59%) were female victims who were killed by a partner or ex-partner. In contrast 33 (9%) were male victims who were killed by a partner or ex-partner.

Which country has no domestic violence? ›

The Middle East countries that do not have legislation on domestic violence include Iraq, Iran, Myanmar, Qatar, Haiti, Oman, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and Armenia.

What age group has the most domestic violence? ›

Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon. Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

Which country has the most Femicides? ›

The worst situations are found in Montenegro, Lithuania, and Latvia. In most countries, the partner is the most common perpetrator. However, there are exceptions: in Lithuania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, most femicides are committed by family members.

Can a girl travel alone in India? ›

To enjoy travelling India as a solo woman, we recommend: Having some experience of travelling solo elsewhere in the world, preferably outside of Europe and North America. Being prepared to cover up and dress conservatively (that means covering your legs, your shoulders, and everything in between).

Are Americans safe in India? ›

In 2022 the country placed 23rd for safety out of the 30 most popular countries for travelers. In the past, it has finished as low as 29th out of 30 countries and as high as 36th out of 56 in the BHTP rankings, showing some of the uncertainty American travelers have about travel to India.

Which city is safe for girls in India? ›

Cities like Coimbatore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Bangalore are some of the safest cities for women in India to stay in.

Which country has the highest crimes? ›

  1. Venezuela. Venezuela has a crime index of 83.76, the highest of any country in the world. ...
  2. Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea has a crime index of 80.79. ...
  3. South Africa. South Africa has the third-highest crime rate in the world. ...
  4. Afghanistan. ...
  5. Honduras. ...
  6. Trinidad and Tobago. ...
  7. Guyana. ...
  8. El Salvador.

What is the root of femicide? ›

Femicide occurs because the continuum of violence against women continues to be accepted, tolerated and justified. Like all violence against women, the many causes of femicide are rooted in gender inequality, gender expectations, and systemic gender-based discrimination.

Whats the difference between femicide and feminicide? ›

Corresponds to the quantification of homicides of women killed by gender violence. Expressed in absolute number and rate per 100,000 women. According to national laws, it is called femicide, feminicide, or aggravated homicide due to gender.

Who is affected by domestic violence Australia? ›

In Australia, domestic and family violence is disturbingly common. It is one of the main drivers of homelessness among women, children and men. Domestic and family violence involves abusive and violent behaviour towards a partner, former partner or family member.

Which country has the lowest rate of domestic violence? ›

The countries with the lowest levels are the Northern European Countries, Canada, and Malta. This VAWI makes a novel and important contribution to the study of gender issues.

How common is domestic violence in the United States? ›

Family and domestic violence is a common problem in the United States, affecting an estimated 10 million people every year; as many as one in four women and one in nine men are victims of domestic violence.

What are the statistics of emotional abuse? ›

Although difficult to measure, research shows that between 50 and 80 percent of adults may experience emotional abuse in their lifetime. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention labels emotional abuse as an adverse childhood experience that affects 11 percent of children.

What profession has the most cases of domestic violence? ›

That would be police officers. Studies have found that a minimum of 40 percent of families of officers have experienced some type of domestic violence. This can include anything from harassment and stalking to homicide. That's well above the 10 percent of the population as a whole.

What percentage of men commit domestic violence? ›

Ninety percent of people who commit violent physical assault are men. Males perpetrate 95% of all serious domestic violence. 6. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 95% of reported assaults on spouses or ex-spouses are committed by men against women.

Which Australian state has the most domestic violence? ›

With the largest numbers of victims in Victoria (32), followed by New South Wales (30). Between 2014 and 2015, 2,800 women and 560 men were hospitalised after being assaulted by a spouse or partner.

How safe is India for a woman? ›

India ranks 148 out of 170 countries in the 'Women, Peace And Security Index 2021'.

Which country has the most Femicides? ›

The worst situations are found in Montenegro, Lithuania, and Latvia. In most countries, the partner is the most common perpetrator. However, there are exceptions: in Lithuania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, most femicides are committed by family members.

What is femicide law? ›

The new legislation defined femicide as a sex-based homicide committed against women, with the involvement of domestic violence, discrimination or contempt for women.

How many attempts does it take to leave an abuser? ›

Survivors may leave and return several times before permanently separating from their abusive partner. In fact, research shows that it can take approximately 7 attempts before a survivor permanently leaves an abusive partner.

What age group has the most domestic violence? ›

Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon. Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

Can you get disability for PTSD from domestic violence? ›

Some of these mental health conditions can be so severe that you find yourself unable to work and earn a living. If this is the case, a woman with a mental health trauma from domestic violence may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

What percent of people are toxic? ›

84% of women and 75% of men report having a toxic friend at some point. The New York Times reports that there has been a worldwide rise in domestic abuse during the COVID-19 crisis.

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
23 May 2017

What percentage of relationships are toxic? ›

Around 60 percent of us stay in bad relationships that we don't find fulfilling at all, according to the Daily Mail. However, there are many habits of a toxic relationship that many people think is normal. Therefore, many of us could be involved in a toxic relationship without even knowing it.

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