Domestic abuse services

Domestic abuse services

Domestic abuse services provide a wide range of information and support including refuge accommodation, helplines, outreach support, floating support, resettlement support, specialist children and young people services, Domestic Abuse Prevention Advocates and drop-in support.

  • There are 361 domestic abuse services in England run by 228 different organisations. 272 of these services include refuge services.[1]

The demand for domestic abuse services is high. It is difficult to exactly demonstrate demand as the only numbers available are for those referrals declined. There are likely to be many women who could have benefited from a referral but are not counted in these figures. This is perhaps because the woman was too frightened to disclose the abuse she was experiencing or a referring agency already knew a refuge was full or not able to support that particular woman’s needs, so did not make the referral.

Findings from our annual survey showed that:

  • Many women are unable to get the crisis accommodation they need for safety and support. Nearly a quarter (23.27%) of referrals in 2014/15 to those refuges responding to our annual survey were declined because of lack of space (18,249 referrals received, data provided by 112 services).
  • 92 women and their 75 children were turned away from the refuge services responding to our annual survey on just one day in 2015 because they could not be accommodated (data provided by 129 refuges).[2]
  • 112 women and their 84 children were turned away from the refuge services responding to our annual survey on just one day in 2014 because they could not be accommodated (data provided by 140 refuges).[2]
  • 369 women were turned away from outreach services in the community because of a lack of capacity in just one week in 2014 (data provided by 87 services).[2]
  • Women often have to travel many miles and uproot their lives in order to escape a violent perpetrator. There are around 10, 000 migration journeys a year, across local authority boundaries, to access services in England because of domestic abuse. There were 10,161 migration journeys in 2008–2009.[3]
  • On one day in 2015, 77.6% of women accommodated in refuges came from a different local authority area to the refuge. (Data provided by 133 services responding to our annual survey.) [4]
  • A survey of women using specialist BMER (Black, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) domestic abuse services found that 89% of women (126 women) said they preferred to use abuse services with a BMER specialism. They particularly valued being with other BMER women who had experienced abuse, being able to communicate in their own language and the specialist expertise of staff.[5]

Housing

  • Solace Women’s Aid’s recent examination into the housing pathways of survivors showed that, of the 27 service users living in a secure tenure at the time of fleeing, only 38% of those rehoused received an equivalent secure council or housing association tenure following a stay in the refuge. 62% ended up in a situation of housing insecurity through temporary accommodation, having to live with family or friends, or living in a hostel. (From a sample of 121 women who left the refuge between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015)[6]
  • One in five women experiencing or having experienced extensive physical and sexual violence reported having been homeless at some point in their lives.[7]

The funding of domestic abuse services

  • Women’s organisations have been disproportionately impacted by recent and current public spending cuts and efficiency savings.
  • 44% (72 services) of services responding to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2015 were running an area of work without dedicated funding during the previous financial year.[8]
  • 6% of services responding to the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2015 said that their most challenging issue in 2014/15 was a lack of funding or uncertainty about funding.[9]

Further information and support

If would like more information about domestic abuse go to:  The Survivor’s Handbook

If you or a friend need help call the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership with Refuge) 0808 2000 247


References

[1] UK Refuges Online, May 2016

[2] Women’s Aid Annual Survey, 2015. Please note that the figures refer to the number of referrals declined rather than the number of women, a woman may have been referred or self-referred to more than one service and so be counted more than once.

[3] Bowstead, JC, Why women’s domestic violence refuges are not local services, Critical Social Policy, Vol. 35(3): 327–349, 2015, p. 335

[4] Bowstead, JC, Why women’s domestic violence refuges are not local services, Critical Social Policy, Vol. 35(3): 327–349, 2015, p. 335

[5] Women’s Aid Annual Survey, 2015: 1,447 women of 1,864 women staying in refuge on the census day, data provided by 133 services

[6] Solace Women’s Aid, The Price of Safety: How the housing system is failing women and children fleeing domestic abuse (Published online: Solace Women’s Aid, 2016) p. 7

[7] Agenda, Hidden Hurt, a research report building on APMS data which surveys 7,500 adults living in private households across England (Published online: Agenda, 2016)

[8] Women’s Aid Annual Survey, 2015

[9] Women’s Aid Annual Survey, 2015. Responses from 142 services to this question. Free-text responses were analysed and categorised according to themes. A response could be allocated to more than one category.

© 2015 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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