‘Two thirds of women in refuges have their children with them’: Mother’s Day & domestic abuse

This Mother’s Day, the national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid is highlighting the number of mothers and children living in domestic abuse refuges, releasing startling new statistics from its Annual Survey 2016.

The Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2016 found that:

● On a typical day, two thirds of women in refuges had their children with them [1]
● On a typical day, 78 women and 78 children were turned away from refuge [2]
● More women and children were turned away from refuges than were let in [3]

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:

“Families up and down the country will celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend – perhaps with treating mum to breakfast in bed, or a special present. But for mothers in refuges, Mother’s Day is not always a happy time. We found that, on one typical day in a refuge, two thirds of the women there have their children with them. The horror of domestic abuse – of fleeing your home and running for your life – means that these mothers often struggle to support their traumatised children, who have nothing left of their old lives except for mum. This is a hugely stressful and painful time. But, the specialist support provided by refuges means that these women and children have the expertise they need to rebuild and recover. They are the lucky ones: due to a lack of space, 78 women and 78 children could be turned away from a refuge on Mother’s Day. In fact, throughout the year, more women and children were turned away from refuges than were able to get in, showing just how huge the demand is for refuges.

“In spite of this, the long-term future of refuges hangs in the balance due to changes to ‘supported housing’ funding. Refuges are bearing the brunt of local authority funding; our Annual Survey found that a third of domestic abuse services run part of their service with no dedicated funding at all. The Government has stepped in with emergency funding several times, and we are very grateful for this. But on Mother’s Day next year, we need to know that all mothers and children fleeing domestic abuse will be able to access a refuge. We must save refuges, save lives.”

Mandy Thomas, survivor of domestic abuse and campaigner said:

“Refuges save the lives of so many mothers and children a year. A refuge saved my life – and the lives of my four children. Two women a week, on average, are killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. Many of these women will be mothers – and if they cannot get into a refuge, then more women will die, and more children will be left without mothers. On Mother’s Day, let us remember the mums and children fleeing domestic abuse, and call on the Government to make sure they have somewhere safe to go”.

Charlotte Kneer, Women’s Aid refuge manager and survivor, said:

“Mother’s Day is poignant for the women in our refuge. Many mothers feel like they have failed their children, and it’s painful to not be in your own home on a special day. But our talented refuge staff work with the mothers to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem, and remind them that the abuse was not their fault. We also work with the children to help them process their trauma. I am fearful for the women and children who are turned away from refuges – and I am fearful for the future of this refuge. Mother’s Day reminds us just how unique the support that refuges give to women and children is. We must protect these life-saving services.”

Download the full Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2016 here. 

Support the ‘SOS: Save Our Services’ campaign here. To arrange interviews or for further information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office.







1 This statistic is based on the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2016 ‘Day to Count’
2 This statistic is based on the Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2016 ‘Day to Count’
3 This statistic is based on referrals to refuges throughout 2015-16

The Annual Survey 2016 questionnaire was sent out in September 2016 to all domestic abuse services in England. At the time there were 372 services in England on the domestic abuse services database UK Refuges Online (UKROL). The statistics are based on responses from 179 service providers. We asked services questions about their provision and service users over three main time periods:
● the previous financial year (1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016)
● The Day to Count: a census day for refuge services, Thursday 13th October 2016
● The Week to Count: a census week for community-based services, Monday 10th October to Friday 14th October 2016 inclusive

© 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

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