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Contact the Refuge press team on:

press@refuge.org.uk | 0207 395 7731 | 07970 894240 (out of hours)

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Working with survivors

Refuge facilitates interviews between journalists and domestic violence survivors who are safe to speak out. Find out more

Press releases

Refuge responds to Femicide Census stats
Refuge responds to Femicide Census stats

In response to the Femicide Census stats released today, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: This data shows the shocking reality of the sheer scale of violence against women and girls. It is horrific that women continue to be killed at such a rate by violent men. Sadly, it is not surprising that the majority of women are killed by their current or former partner. Women’s lives lost to male violence - leaving children without mothers, parents without daughters, families without loved ones. We know that leaving an abusive man is complex and often dangerous. At the very core of our work is ensuring that women fleeing abuse have a safe place to go and the right support to help rebuild their lives. Austerity cuts have meant specialist services being cut to the bone and urgently in need a long-term funding solution to prevent them from being forced to close. Refuge awaits the new statutory duty to fund refuges, with sufficient funding to ensure every woman has somewhere safe to go if they need it. No woman or child fleeing domestic abuse should ever be turned away from safety. The Government has a real opportunity with the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill to cement its commitment to addressing gender based violence - and this opportunity must be taken. We hope the Bill will be strengthened, making it truly transformative, and that it will see a smooth and swift passage into law. Women’s lives depend on it. For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to Government’s announcement of funding for support services for survivors of domestic abuse
Refuge responds to Government’s announcement of funding for support services for survivors of domestic abuse

In response to the Government’s announcement  of funding for support services for survivors of domestic abuse, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: The announcement by the Government of extra funds to support domestic abuse services is a crucial and welcome temporary measure - but will only go some way towards solving the ongoing funding crisis refuge services are experiencing. Refuges form part of an essential national network of support, yet years of local authority funding cuts have had an impact on their sustainability. Services have been cut to the bone and urgently need a long-term funding solution to prevent them from being forced to close. Refuge has worked closely with the Government on sustainable funding for services and eagerly awaits the new statutory duty to fund refuges, with sufficient funding to ensure they every woman  has somewhere safe to go if they need it. No woman or child fleeing domestic abuse should ever be turned away from safety. The upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill offers the Government a real opportunity to cement its support for addressing domestic abuse.  We hope this opportunity will be embraced, and that the Government will ensure the Bill is strengthened, so it can be truly transformative, and has a smooth passage into law. Women’s lives depend on it. For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to ONS annual homicide statistics
Refuge responds to ONS annual homicide statistics

London 13th February 2020:  Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, responds to Office for National Statistics (ONS)  annual homicide statistics. In response to the release today of homicide statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: 'These statistics show that violence against women and girls continues to be a scourge on society. In 2019, almost half the number of adult female homicide victims were killed in a domestic homicide. Domestic abuse continues to harm and kill women at an alarming rate, and Refuge is extremely concerned that the 2019 statistics show a 27% rise in the number of women killed in a domestic homicide compared to the previous year.  While these statistics dropped in 2018, this rise in 2019 proves that any indications domestic abuse was reducing were wholly unfounded. On average, two women every week across England and Wales are killed by a current or former partner. Women’s lives lost to male violence -  leaving children without mothers, parents without daughters, families without loved ones. This must serve as a stark reminder to Government and law enforcement alike that domestic abuse is a crime, must be taken more seriously and addressed with urgency. The Government has a real opportunity to address gender-based violence by ensuring that the Domestic Abuse Bill comes back to Parliament as soon as possible. We hope that the Government will act quickly to ensure the Bill is strengthened, and has a smooth passage into law. We are eagerly awaiting the new statutory duty to fund refuges, which must be backed up with enough funding to ensure that every woman has somewhere safe to go if they need it. No woman fleeing domestic abuse should be turned away from safety. The Bill has the ability to transform the response to domestic abuse – and that chance must not be lost.  Women’s lives depend on it.’ For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to Government announcement of consultation on pre-charge bail
Refuge responds to Government announcement of consultation on pre-charge bail

In response to the Home Office announcement that the Government is launching a public consultation on pre-charge bail, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘Refuge welcomes this important consultation announced today, and shares the Government’s desire for change in the way those accused of domestic abuse are processed by the criminal justice system. Over recent years we have seen a 65% drop in the number of perpetrators reported to the police for domestic abuse being released on bail. What this means in practice is that women who take the difficult and often traumatic decision to report their abusive partners to police may see them released, with no conditions, able to contact them and in many cases continue the tirade of abuse. Refuge will respond to the consultation and call for a presumption of bail for suspects of domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. Women reporting their abusive partners must feel confident that when they approach the police that basic measures will be put in place to protect them and that safeguards will be immediately enacted. As the largest service provider supporting the greatest number of women and children on any given day, Refuge will ensure that this consultation is shared widely among survivors and that their voices are listened to and heard. Refuge hopes that the consultation will be completed and the recommendations implemented with minimal delay. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure survivors of domestic abuse receive the protection they desperately need. ‘ Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on press@refuge.org.uk call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge comments on CPS Violence Against Women and Girls statistics
Refuge comments on CPS Violence Against Women and Girls statistics

In response to the CPS Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) statistics released today, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘These statistics are both disappointing and frustrating. Rape reports to the police are increasing, yet referrals to the CPS are in decline. What sort of message does this send to women? That they will not be believed? That their experiences are not valid? It is crucial that women feel empowered to report abuse and that they have confidence in the system. These statistics should be a wakeup call for culture change within the justice system and law enforcement.” For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge welcomes new Stalking Protection Orders
Refuge welcomes new Stalking Protection Orders

New powers to stop suspected stalkers under police investigation contacting victims have come into force today in England and Wales. Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of National Domestic Abuse charity Refuge said: "Refuge welcomes the new Stalking Protection Orders giving victims further tools to protect themselves from violence and abuse. We are particularly pleased that a breach of the order an automatic criminal offence, but SPOs should never serve as a substitute for prosecutions. Whilst they have the potential to bridge the gap in protection for victims of stalking, SPOs only function properly if used consistently across police forces. The police must be given adequate resource and training in how to use them if they are to be a success." For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

72% of Refuge service users identify experiencing tech abuse
72% of Refuge service users identify experiencing tech abuse

Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity says 72% of service users experience abuse through technology and launches chatbot to provide real-time information to survivors Launch coincides with ‘Tonight, Tech Abuse: Stopping the Stalkers’ with Julie Etchingham on ITV at 7.30pm Refuge has today launched an online chatbot which aims to provide safe and accessible information to thousands of women across the country experiencing abuse through technology. In 2019, 72% of women who accessed support from Refuge services identified experiencing tech abuse, which can range from persistent telephone calls from perpetrators, being targeted via social media, having their location tracked or spyware installed in their homes. Refuge is the leading national domestic abuse charity working with survivors experiencing tech abuse, which is almost always experienced alongside other forms of domestic abuse. Refuge has supported women that have experienced many forms of tech abuse, from perpetrators creating fake accounts to harass them online, impersonating their online identity, putting recording devices inside children’s toys, attaching GPS trackers to cars, or logging into online storage to monitor messages. The new chatbot can be accessed via the Refuge website here. It offers instructional videos as well as practical real-time tips on how to secure devices such as mobile phones and ensuring your location-tracking or map applications aren’t accessible to abusive partners. It was designed by Roxanne Leitao, a PhD student at Central Saint Martins, with funding from LDoc. Leitao said: "The idea for the chatbot developed from my PhD research, which looks at the intersection of technology and domestic abuse. I interviewed survivors of domestic abuse and a group of support workers as part of my research, and I realised that most of the women I spoke to weren’t confident in managing their digital devices. I then ran a series of co-design workshops with survivors and support workers. Working with Refuge’s tech abuse team and, based on the findings from the PhD research, we identified the need for an online resource that could show women how to secure their devices. The chatbot provides clear and simple instruction videos that women can access anywhere, anytime, and offers guidance for securing a number of devices including iPhones and Android. I worked closely with survivors of tech abuse and directly with Refuge to shape and test the design, and make sure it was as effective and user-friendly as possible.” Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “Tech abuse is domestic abuse. Women are reporting tech abuse to us on an alarming scale, and we know that being able to access quick, safe and accessible support in order to secure devices is crucial. We have worked with clients who have had spyware installed in their homes, or their movements tracked by abusive partners, as well as women whose children have had their toys tampered with, and tracking devices placed in them. This chatbot will help save and change lives, and will empower women to ensure their devices are safe. It will enable Refuge to upscale the support offered to women, not just in Refuge services, but wherever they are.” The chatbot launches on 9th January to coincide with ‘Tonight -Tech Abuse: Stopping the Stalkers’ broadcast date 9th January 7:30pm  ITV For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to Queens Speech
Refuge responds to Queens Speech

Ahead of the Queen’s Speech today, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “Refuge eagerly awaits the Queen’s Speech, which will outline the Government’s agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session. It provides a new opportunity for the Government to reaffirm its commitment to ending violence against women and girls by reintroducing and strengthening the Domestic Abuse Bill. This is needed now more than ever. “The Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the response to domestic abuse, but was unfortunately waylaid due to the snap election. Refuge hopes that the Speech will include the Bill, which we hope to see strengthened, and passed with minimal delay. A renewed Bill that ensures survivors are prioritised for housing, that the welfare system properly supports survivors, migrant women receive adequate protection, and includes a gendered definition of domestic abuse, is essential if the Government is to enact meaningful change for survivors of abuse. “Refuge also hopes that the Queen’s Speech will establish the Government’s immediate commitment to adequate funding for refuges. Up and down the country, refuges are facing closure, and women and children fleeing domestic abuse are being turned away when they are most at risk of harm. In 2017/18, over half of all referrals to refuges were declined. “In England and Wales alone, almost one in three women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Domestic abuse is the single biggest issue facing women in the UK today and these numbers haven’t changed in years, in fact they are only getting worse. The Government can afford no more delays to reform – women’s lives depend on it.” For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.