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#RefugeSheroes 16 Days of action

As part of our Refuge Sheroes campaign, for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, from 25 November till 10 December 2018, we shared an action each day on our website here and on our social media channels for you to take. It’s not too late to take action – click on each day below to see the relevant action.

On your first day as a Shero, our first action will get you up to speed!

1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Women that come from all walks of life. It could be someone you know.

Yet many women don’t know where to seek help, are scared of leaving, think they are alone, or feel they won’t be believed.

And all too often domestic abuse is still seen as a private matter.

Read about the signs so you know what to look out for.

And learn how to support someone you care about.

It is important to know that the risk of violence escalates when a women tries to leave her abusive partner. The majority of women killed by their current or former partners are murdered shortly after they leave.

It is vital that women get specialist help from organisations like Refuge to help them plan to leave safely.

If someone is at immediate risk, always call 999.

It’s Shero day two and we are off to a flying start!

Sadly, many myths and misinformation prevail when it comes to violence against women and girls.

People often talk about alcohol, stress or anger being to blame or of cycles of violence with children exposed to abuse going on to inevitably abuse. This is simply not true.

Violence against women and girls is a conscious choice made by some men against women because they are female. It is firmly rooted in power imbalances between men and women and gender inequality.

Violence against women and girls and gender inequality are two sides of the same coin for victims of abuse.

Play your part in helping to end violence against women on both a personal and a social level.

Check out this website Refuge developed with the NFL, which wanted its players to be strong role models for young men

Violence against women thrives in a society where women are valued less highly than men. By challenging that attitude you can help to create a more equal world.

Consider the power balances and gender roles in your home. Do you treat each other as equals, feel free to be yourselves and take one another’s opinions and wishes into consideration? How you work through differences?

Have the courage to speak out when you hear sexist comments or jokes, or someone making light of dating violence or sexual assault.

Call out misogyny in the media, on television, in video games, and in society.

For many women, the bruises and wounds of abuse are not visible on the surface. A large proportion of victims never suffer physical abuse. But the impact of emotional abuse and coercive control are just as devastating. They erode a woman’s confidence, make them question themselves, and leave them feeling worthless.

82% of the women Refuge supported last year had suffered psychological abuse, on average for a period of six years.

Still, many people do not know that coercive control is now a crime.

More than half of young women in an Avon-Refuge study said they found it hard to define the line between controlling and caring behaviour.

Controlling behaviour and non-physical abuse needs to be talked about more widely

Watch and share this video from our amazing partner, Avon, who is working to shine a light on the different forms of non-violent abuse.

Man enough to be a SHERO?

Domestic abuse is an overwhelmingly gendered phenomena. CPS data shows 8 out of 10 of victims are female and 9 out of 10 of defendants in domestic abuse court cases are male.

Violence against women and girls is rooted in power imbalances and traditional gender roles and expectations. Violence committed by some men against women precisely because they are female.

If we are to create an equal and safe world for women and girls), then we all need to address gender inequality and misogyny. And men need to be part of these conversations.

Sir Patrick Stewart and Luke and Ryan Hart share why they are campaigning to raise awareness of violence against women and girls, and challenge the status quo.

Watch this video from the fantastic event we held at Refuge on 27 November 2018.

Will you join them in the SHERO crusade?

Have conversations with others.

Call out the everyday sexism and inequality all around us.

Employers have an important role to play in better supporting survivors and preventing future VAWG.

They have a duty of care to their employees and a legal responsibility to provide a safe and effective work environment. Preventing and tackling domestic violence and supporting employees affected by abuse are integral to their obligations.

Ask your HR team about their domestic abuse policies and share this valuable and comprehensive toolkit with them.

Media reporting of VAWG all too often perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes or seeks to portray the abuse as crimes of passion, painting the incidents as extraordinary, or blaming the victim blaming and asking what she did to provoke him.

How about asking why men abuse women, covering the prevalence of VAWG, or looking at the underlying causes?

Read this excellent piece by Emily Baker in The Pool

Most journalists and editors use Twitter as a professional tool. Next time you read or watch a piece that reports VAWG  as a crime of passion, seeks to portray the perpetrators as upholding members of the community or blames the victim, call it out. Tweet journalists and editors and share the National Union of Journalist Guidelines on reporting VAWG.

We’re halfway through 16 days already! #RefugeSheroes, today’s mission is to get out there to raise awareness of the 1 in 4 women affected by domestic abuse and of the services available to them.

The domestic homicide review out this last week into the shocking murders of Claire and Charlotte Hart sadly showed how few people recognise the signs of non-physical abuse.

Print off our downloadable poster and put it up at work, at school, college or university, in your local pharmacy and GP surgery, in your local community centre or church, ask restaurants and bars if you can put it up in the ladies’ toilets. Let’s reach those 1 in 4 and let them know they are not alone

The countdown is on to the end of 2018. Less than one month to go now….

If you are starting to think about new challenges for 2019 or what your new year’s resolution might be, how about running a marathon or jumping on your bike for Refuge?

If that’s not your thing, but you are in full Shero mode and would still like to raise awareness and funds for survivors of violence against women and girls, we have lots of ideas, here. Get some Shero friends together to help you.

Whilst domestic abuse affects women all year round, Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for many survivors, keeping up appearances, being prevented from buying presents, or stopped from seeing loved ones. Other women may have fled their abusive partners, but find themselves spending the festive period miles away from family and friends.

Our amazing Shero partners at McCann Bristol have launched a series of incredible, emotive poems about domestic abuse at Christmas time to help raise awareness of the women affected and where they can get help. Read them top down and they appear as standard poems; read them in reverse and stories of domestic abuse unfold. Powerful stuff.

Take a look and share them widely.

If we are to create a safe and equal world for our daughters and granddaughters, then we need to be talking now to all children about role models, gender equality and healthy relationships.

We need to ensure positive role models exist for boys growing up, right from the outset – both around them at home and in the media, at school, and in clubs. We need to recognise and challenge power imbalances between men and women, and break down traditional roles and gender expectations. We must educate young people that violence is a choice and not an acceptable way to handle stress or anger. Controlling behaviour and non-physical abuse needs to be talked about and challenged more widely, and equally important is discussing what constitutes healthy relationships early on at school and beyond.

Make sure you are having these conversations with the children in your life. Ask your school about their healthy relationship policy and gender neutrality. But also endeavour yourself to model healthy relationships based on equality and respect. We can make a difference for those who will be the future. Take a look at these useful tools and questions on respectful and equal relationships and gender equality.

Perpetrators are increasingly using technology to facilitate their abuse of women. Abusers can and have gained access to women’s personal and home devices, their online accounts and even their children’s toys and devices to control, isolate, humiliate and dominate them.

As of August 2018, our frontline staff had recorded close to 1,000 cases of technologically-facilitated abuse, also known as ‘tech abuse’, and this number continues to rise across our services every day. Read more about this rising trend in the Evening Standard.

At Refuge our nationwide team of specialist frontline staff have been trained to empower women to use technology positively and safely. Do you know how to protect yourself – or your children – digitally? Your action for today is to read and share these quick tips to check and secure your home and mobile devices, developed by our US partner, Safety Net.

Did you know that specialist services for survivors of domestic abuse are facing an ongoing funding crisis? None of our services at Refuge are fully funded by the Government, meaning we have to fundraise to make up the shortfall. This is not sustainable.

As it is, demand outstrips supply. On one day last year 180 women and children could not get a place in any refuge.
Some VAWG survivors literally cannot access the vital support they need. This could be a life or death matter – we need your help.

For your Refuge Sheroes action today, email your local councillor(s) and call on them to provide sufficient funding for domestic abuse services in your area. Do please send us their responses. Find instructions below:

    • Go to https://www.writetothem.com/
    • Type in your postcode and hit ‘GO’
    • A list of your local councillors should load. Next to the list of names, you will see a link that says ‘Write to all your councillors’. Click this.
    • The next screen you’ll see is an email template; this is where you should add your message. You will see pre-populated text which reads ‘Dear [councillor names]. Below this and above the pre-populated ‘Yours sincerely’ text, copy and paste the following message. Please feel free to customise this message as you wish:

Did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime? Or that 2 women are killed a week by a current or ex-partner and 3 women a week escape abuse by taking their own lives?

Despite these shocking statistics, services for the victims of domestic abuse are experiencing an ongoing funding crisis. Refuge, the country’s largest provider of services to survivors of violence against women and girls, reports that none of their services are fully funded. Instead they have to fundraise from their supporters to make up the shortfall – meaning Refuge is effectively subsidising the state for essential services.

As it is, demand outstrips supply. On one single day last year, 180 women and children could not get a place in any refuge.

Without sufficient funding and service provision, some survivors are not able to access life-saving support. As your constituent, I am asking you to ensure that if women do not have access to the full range of domestic abuse services in our local authority, they are commissioned as a matter of urgency. If our local authority does fund a domestic abuse service, I ask that the funding allocated when the tender comes up for renewal is increased in line with the funding actually required to run the service, not at a deficit.

I look forward to your response.

  • Below the pre-populated ‘Yours sincerely’ text, type your name to sign off the email.
  • When you’re happy with your email message, scroll down and fill in your contact details so your councillors can respond. Press the ‘Preview and send’ button.
  • You will next see a preview of your email. Click the ‘I’m happy, send it’ button.
  • If and when you receive a response, please forward it on to us and let us know at comms@refuge.org.uk.

1 in 5 adults has experienced economic abuse, according to research by Refuge and the Cooperative Bank. Refuge’s Lisa King spoke at a Surviving Economic Abuse conference this week about the shocking findings, which contributed to the crucial development of the new UK Finance Code of Practice. But she stressed that much more still needs to be done to challenge economic abuse and protect victims. Do you know how to spot the signs?

Your Shero action today is to use our quick resources to understand the various forms of economic abuse and how to support someone you know.

At Refuge, through decades of supporting victims of domestic abuse, we have identified a nexus with modern slavery. Many of the women we support first present as domestic abuse survivors but later, as they build trust, reveal that they were trafficked or are victims of modern slavery. The Home Office estimates that there are as many as 13,000 people held in slavery in the UK. For today’s Shero action, find out more about the issue.

It isn’t always easy to know whether you could be inadvertently supporting modern slavery – it’s often referred to as ‘hidden in plain sight’ for good reason. But here are some signs to look out for next time you are out shopping or choosing local services.

As we near the end of 16 days, we want to congratulate all our pioneer SHEROES!
Do let us know on social media using #RefugeSheroes which actions you have taken of the 14 we have shared so far and anything else you are doing to challenge VAWG.
Share your achievements on our Shero cards.
But our mission doesn’t end here, it’s just the start!
Get out there, let’s recruit more Sheroes.
We will be sharing more resources, more letters and more actions over the coming weeks.
Whatever it takes!

It’s the end of 16 days of action and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Sadly, the UDHR is just as relevant and necessary today as it was back then – especially for the millions of women and girls subjected to gender inequality and abuse.

At the heart of the Declaration are the ideals of equality, justice and human dignity – values essential to ensuring a safe and equal world for all women and girls. Learn more about the UDHR and how upholding these rights remain central to all our lives, here and what the UN is doing to promote human rights 70 years on.