Change That Lasts is our plan for a future where all survivors get the right response to domestic abuse the very first time.

Become a Change That Lasts Community Ambassador. Click to find out more

For many women, when they first disclose they are experiencing domestic abuse no one listens to them. No one consults them about how to stop the abuse, despite the fact that nobody knows the abuser better than they do.

Often women who disclose abuse are assessed by domestic abuse professionals for risk, and then divided into categories. Those at “standard” or “medium” risk are left to fend for themselves, or offered an hour of counselling a week with little support to escape their abuser.

Not surprisingly, many women struggle to escape the abuse permanently, build their independence, and get their lives back.

Creating Change That Lasts

Our decades of experience working with survivors, and the evidence of research, have taught us a better way. By listening to women we can provide help earlier and make sure its effects actually last.

Change That Lasts is an approach that places the survivor at the heart and builds responses around her needs and the strengths and resources available to her.

Too often this approach is considered too complicated and too expensive. So to make it clearer, we have created some infographics, visualising these women’s journeys, and the journeys they could have taken. These illustrate the enormous cost, in human and financial terms, of not listening to women and responding to their needs.

We’re going to keep advocating for a response to domestic violence that has women at its centre. We are consulting with our membership on a cross-sector approach to domestic violence that truly has the needs of survivors at its heart.

Read Sarah, Katrina and Yasmin’s stories below.

Mandy, Survivor Ambassador for Women's Aid
Women's Aid Change that Lasts - Sarah's Journey Infographic

Further details and references of the costs outlined above (PDF) – Download

Sarah’s journey: the true story of a domestic violence survivor and what could have happened without any intervention.

This is what actually happened.

They met in 1996 and married in 1999.

The abuse starts gradually. He is first physically violent when she is pregnant.

Her son is diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Later they go on to have twins.

She calls the police regularly about the violence, who always call social services. Nothing is done as she defends him out of fear. 20 of these call outs cost £40,000.

He starts to abuse the children so she asks him to leave.

She visits a drop in run by her local domestic violence service. They see she is at high risk and insist social services open a case. The cost of the drop in is £305.

She makes threats to kill her and a MARAC is convened at a cost of £11,900.

No mental health support is provided for her or her children.

All three children have emotional difficulties and Special Educational Needs (SEN) and the two youngest twins (age 3) cannot speak yet.

The domestic violence service supports her and a pre-school supports the children. Two years of SEN costs £12,715 and group work for her and child support therapy costs £600 in total.

All three children’s behaviour improves and the youngest two no longer require special educational support at school.

The total fare for Sarah’s journey is £78,235.

Without any intervention, the story could have been different.

When she asks him to leave, she feels isolated and unable to cope alone so, hopeful he will change, she returns. Instead the abuse intensifies.

After two more years the children are taken into care at a cost of £35,624 per child a year. Sarah receives no support to leave.

None of the children are adopted because of their age and complex needs. All stay in care until age 18.

The oldest son moves straight from care into residential support for adults with learning disabilities. Violent outbursts lead to a prison sentence for GBH. The cost of SEN, housing and prison is £1,466,982.

One twin develops mental health problems including self-harm. The other twin is aggressive, violent and a regular truant. As young adults they become locked in the criminal justice system. The SEN, mental health and offences costs for the two twins combined is £2,267,260.

Without intervention, the total fare for Sarah’s journey could have been £5,092,330.

Women's Aid Change that Lasts Infographic- Katrina's Journey

Further details and references of the costs outlined above (PDF) – Download

Katrina’s journey: the true story of a domestic violence survivor, and what could have been with needs-led intervention.

This is what actually happened.

Katrina falls pregnant soon after meeting her partner. He is very controlling and they have an on/off relationship.

After the first physical incident she calls the police. The police and social services perform a risk assessment. The call out costs £2,000.

She fears her child will be taken into care so she tells social services they have split up. Because of this, she is not considered high risk.

She goes to a hostel and he tracks her down.

After daily harassment she returns to the relationship believing she is safer staying with him if she can’t escape from him.

They marry and have a second child in 2000.

He keeps all financial assets in his name and forces her to take out £95,000 of debt in her name.

In 2010, he ends the relationship and the house is repossessed when he stops paying the mortgage.

She works four jobs but is advised to drop down to one by the job centre.

She and her children are made homeless 3 times in 3 years. They rely on benefits and food banks to survive. Housing benefit costs £3,930.26 a year and each time they are re-housed the cost is £5,300.  Child tax credit and school meals combined cost £4,300.26 a year.

The total fare for Katrina’s journey is £63,499.16.

With needs led intervention the story could have been different.

When the police and social services perform a risk assessment, Katrina is recognised as having needs and being at risk because of the abuse.

They know that without support, she might keep returning to the relationship.

She is referred to a specialist domestic violence service which helps her build financial and emotional independence. The advocacy and group work costs £365.

She is helped into work and feels in control of her finances.

With needs-led intervention, the total fare for Katrina’s journey could have been £2,365.

Women's Aid Change that Lasts Infographic - Yasmin's Journey

Further details and references of the costs outlined above (PDF) – Download

Yasmin’s journey: the true story of a domestic violence survivor, and what could have been with needs-led intervention.

This is what actually happened.

Yasmin has always suffered from OCD and depression. She meets her partner in 2012 and moves in soon after.

After 4 months the abuse starts when she discovers he is a heroin addict.

After the first violent instance she attends Accident and Emergency.

At this point there was an opportunity for needs-led intervention.

Instead Yasmin is sent home with painkillers.

He beats her regularly. She sees A&E every fortnight. She calls the police more than 50 times but doesn’t feel supported to leave. The total cost of this is £102,938.

Eventually she is referred to the local housing team.

She is housed near the perpetrator at a cost of £5,300. He regularly breaks in until she agrees to move back in with him.

After she moves back in, the violence starts again and he begins injecting her with drugs against her will.

He tries to burn down the house with her inside. She flees and a MARAC, costing £11,900, assesses her as high risk. Alarms are put in a new property.

The cost of rehousing her and adding the alarms is £5,752.

He breaks in and the downstairs alarm fails. He holds her hostage, repeatedly raping and injecting her.

After 5 days she makes it upstairs, setting off the upstairs alarm. He is arrested but escapes a custodial sentence.

She now lives in supported housing at a cost of £47,323.50 a year, because she cannot live independently. She cannot contact friends or family in case they lead him to her.

The total fare for Yasmin’s journey is £2,018,943.

With needs led intervention at A & E the story could have been different.

When Yasmin first attends A & E, staff call the police and a nurse refers her to the A&E IDVA at a cost of £648.

She is kept safe in hospital overnight until she can be moved to a refuge. The overnight stay costs £1,779.

The refuge helps her access mental health support. Her stay at the refuge along with the advocacy and mental health support costs £11,160.

After 6 months she moves into private accommodation where she regularly sees family and friends.

With needs-led intervention, the total fare for Yasmin’s journey could have been £13,700.

Home Office logo
Community Fund
Comic Relief Logo

© 2020 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

Terms & conditionsPrivacy & cookie policySite mapProtect yourself onlineMedia │ Jobs

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?