16 Days: 16 Women


Refuge is proud to be supporting the UN’s 16 Days of Activism, celebrating International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 until International Human Rights Day on December 10. We’re sharing stories of 16 Women who’ve accessed our services, their experiences of violence, and how Refuge supports survivors of violence and abuse. We stand for equality and justice for all victims of violence against women and girls, for empowering women everywhere, and for creating a world where gender based violence is not tolerated. You can view the stories of 16 Women below.


Refuge staff reassure, care and know what women who’ve experienced domestic violence need.


‘Sarah’ – who stayed in one of our refuges – is one of the 16 Women who has accessed Refuge’s services and is telling her story for 16 Days

Refuge’s staff are specially trained to support those who’ve experienced sexual violence. Here, ‘Lottie’ explains how one of Refuge’s Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVA) supported her.

Refuge runs a number of services that support women like ‘Julie’ who’ve experienced female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is a crime and a violation of human rights. We provide expert specialist support to survivors, raise awareness amongst professionals, and take the voices of women and children we support to the policy tables.

Refuge supports victims of human trafficking and modern slavery across its national services. Some people see modern slavery as an unfortunate by-product of migration. This is wrong: modern slavery is a crime, it is a violation of a person’s human rights, and victims need and deserve protection and support. Refuge runs specialist services that provide support to women who’ve experienced trafficking.

“Every 30 seconds there is a domestic violence call to the police. Two years ago, it was every minute”. The rising use of technology to monitor, control and harass women is impacting the capabilities of abusers. Many victims of domestic violence report being either being harassed via online messages or having their activity monitored via their phones. Euleen’s story of tech abuse is an example of the growing use of technology to spy on or harass a partner. Refuge, in partnership with Google, has launched a new programme to tackle technological abuse and economic and technological exclusion, caused by the growing misuse of modern technology against victims of domestic abuse.

The 24-hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, which Refuge runs in partnership with Women’s Aid, supports women like ‘Nina’ to access specialist services across the country. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please call 0808 2000 247 to speak to one of our experts. The Helpline is open every hour of every day, every year.

More than half of the residents in our refuges are children. ‘Amanda’ escaped to a refuge with her mum and brother when she was 10-years-old – here, she shares how Refuge’s staff supported her and her family.

The legal system can be frightening and isolating for women who have experienced domestic violence. Refuge’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocates enable women to access justice and support them through the court system.

Refuge supports women like ‘Thanh’ who have been victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. Many victims of modern slavery are trafficked into the UK and many others are trafficked within and across the UK and held in conditions of slavery. Many victims do not realise that they are experiencing modern slavery; many feel unable to tell anybody what has happened to them in fear of deportation, the authorities and their abusers. 

In many of Refuge’s services, women benefit from peer-to-peer support to help them overcome their experiences and rebuild their lives. To help more women like Melanie over the holiday season, check out our different Christmas appeals, show your support and make someone smile this Christmas.

Some women may not need to, or may not want to access refuge accommodation. Instead, they may benefit from practical and emotional support in the community while they make decisions about their future. This is where Refuge’s outreach workers come in.

Support from one of Refuge’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocates is crucial to women who have experienced abuse. Refuge’s IDVA team support women who’ve experienced domestic violence access the criminal justice system.

At Refuge, we recognise that each woman has unique needs. Refuge’s staff speak over 40 languages between them, which helps break down barriers to accessing support.

‘Komal’ was forced to marry her cousin as a teenager in Bangladesh. Her now ex-partner and his family abused Komal, and her own family disowned her. ‘Komal’ eventually found the courage to leave and fled to one of our specialist refuges. Refuge’s expert staff helped her report the abuse as well as gave her emotional support. They also supported her to access education and volunteering.

There are a lot of myths surrounding sexual and domestic abuse among teenagers. 27% of teenage girls aged 13-17 have experienced sexual violence in their relationships. Refuge’s specialist Youth Advocates support young women like ‘Stacey’ to rebuild their lives following abuse.