Joint statement on the Domestic Abuse Plan: Respect and Women’s Aid

Domestic abuse is a matter of national priority as this plan appropriately acknowledges. Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in public attention paid to domestic abuse and the long-term detrimental impact of the pandemic on women and children fleeing abuse. This has been met with greater recognition from the government in this long-awaited Domestic Abuse Plan that domestic abuse is not solely a criminal justice issue but also one that affects many aspects of life including housing, health, family justice, employment and financial stability. We fully welcome this.

We are pleased to see that the government has explicitly recognised domestic abuse as a form of violence against women and girls, and highlighted the importance of a “holistic” approach to preventing and responding to domestic abuse. The Plan highlights that a change in societal attitudes is urgently needed to tackle structural inequality and gender stereotypes that lie at the core of abuse. We particularly welcome the commitment to further rollout the Relationships, Sex & Health Education in schools, and both Women’s Aid and Respect were pleased to have supported the Home Office in developing the ‘Enough’ public information campaign. We would, however, like a clearer understanding of how this will achieve the long-term societal change needed to bring an end to domestic abuse.

We are also pleased to see that the long called for strategy for perpetrators has been included in the plan, with £75 million of funding over three years to tackle perpetrators. With regard to the domestic abuse perpetrator register, there is a need to ensure safety and to avoid further harm to survivors and victims of domestic abuse. This will require significant professional expertise in the development and delivery of the register from the specialist perpetrator sector.

We warmly welcome the government’s commitment to ring-fence £15.7 million for community-based services and double funding for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline. We further encourage the Home Office and Ministry of Justice to ensure that a percentage of this funding is dedicated to specialist by and for services, who are rooted in the communities they serve and continue to suffer from a chronic lack of funding.

The importance of our national network of refuges cannot be underestimated: it is vital to both tackle the behaviours that lie at the core of abuse, and ensure that women and children can reach safety and access the support they need to heal. A safe and sustainable national network of specialist domestic abuse services that meets the needs of women survivors and their children, is therefore essential for achieving the cross-government commitment to ensuring ‘no woman is turned away from the support she needs’ but also to save lives.

© 2022 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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