Media centre

Contact the Refuge press team on:

press@refuge.org.uk | 0207 395 7731

Please note: due to the number of requests we receive and our limited resources, we are unable to provide personal support to student projects. There is lots of information on this website, including many of our publications and reports which are available to download, so please make the most of these resources.

twitter smallerFacebook smallerInstagram smaller youtube smaller

Working with survivors

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

Press releases

Refuge announces Survivor Ambassadors
Refuge announces Survivor Ambassadors

Refuge announces Survivor Ambassadors to mark 50th year, empowering women and children to live a life free from domestic abuse. As Refuge marks its 50th Anniversary, reflecting on half a century of supporting women and children against domestic abuse, and providing lifesaving and lifechanging services, Refuge is proud to announce newly appointed survivor ambassadors. Survivors are at the heart of Refuge’s work, inspiring and courageous individuals who have lived experience of domestic abuse and work alongside Refuge to implement much-needed change and raise awareness of the biggest social issue impacting women and children today; violence against women and girls (VAWG.) During 16 Days of activism against gender-based violence, which started on the 25th November - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10th December- Human Rights Day, Refuge is sharing the stories of survivors who have been supported by its services and as Refuge marks a mile-stone 50th anniversary year, the charity seeks to shine a light on survivors' voices and ensure their stories are amplified and heard. Without the tireless campaigning of survivors, vital changes to the way society responds to domestic abuse may not have been achievable. Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Chair of Refuge’s board of trustees said: “Refuge is proud to place survivor voices at the heart of our work. Throughout 2021 we have all seen violence against women and girls become higher on the public and political agenda. Every day, we hear horrific stories of domestic abuse and murder; the statistics sadly speak for themselves: two women a week are killed by their current or former partners, one in four women will be impacted by domestic abuse in their lifetime. Enough is enough. Although significant gains have been made over the last 50 years, there is still much work to do, and Refuge will continue campaigning until all women are able to live free from abuse. Our service and survivor informed campaigning is what has secured changes that will help ensure millions of women are able to access support and live free from abuse, and I am absolutely delighted that today Refuge is able to recognise the work of these incredible people, without whom Refuge would not be the organisation it is today. Using their voice comes at a huge personal sacrifice to them, but their bravery in sharing their own stories has been fundamental to change and it is absolutely right that we recognise their contribution in this way.” The newly appointed survivor ambassadors are: Amy Aldworth Erica Osakwe Hollie Woolford Melanie Clarke Melony and Hayden Slack Natasha Saunders Amy Aldworth, is a campaigner against tech abuse and a survivor of tech facilitated stalking, Amy has worked with Refuge over the past year, supporting on campaigns raising awareness of Refuge’s Tech Safety website and specialist Tech Abuse service – the only one of its kind in the UK. Amy most recently shared her personal story of experiencing tech abuse around the launch of Refuge’s 50th anniversary tech abuse campaign, a partnership with ad agency BBH which explained that 50 years on domestic abuse is getting smarter and Refuge’s job is getting harder. Watch the advert here. Amy Aldworth, said: “As a survivor of domestic stalking my hope is that every woman and every child can be free of domestic abuse and violence. I am honoured to be working with Refuge as an ambassador to raise awareness and campaign for change.” Erica Osakwe, recently worked with Refuge to campaign for an amendment to be made to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to protect victims being ‘timed out’ of accessing justice when reporting Common Assault. This amendment would extend the period that survivors of abuse have to report common assault. Erica has recently set up her own charity, Victims Too and was announced as the winner of Marie Claire Future Shapers 2021 ‘Women’s Rights Champion’ which Refuge were thrilled to nominate her for. Erica Osakwe, said: “I am incredibly grateful to be asked by Refuge to stand alongside so many inspiring individuals as an ambassador. Having worked alongside Refuge already to campaign for change, I am excited and determined to continue the work that is necessary to help ensure the safety of woman and girls across the country” Hollie Woolford has supported Refuge for nearly eight years working with Refuge’s communications and policy teams on a number of campaigns. Hollie Woolford, said: “Domestic Abuse could have taken my life. Today, I’m still here thanks to Refuge’s work and support. I want to make sure as many women as possible know about Refuge’s lifesaving and life changing services and how to access support.” Melanie Clarke has been working with Refuge for nearly a decade, Melanie was heavily involved in Refuge’s ‘Grow’ video a music video created in partnership with singer songwriter Frances which featured an animation of a young woman experiencing domestic abuse, which was based on Melanie’s experiences of physical and psychological abuse. Melanie Clarke, said: “After years of abuse, I understand how survivors feel, which is why I think I connect well with women. Helping women to find their light again from something so dark is a beautiful thing. On my journey of raising awareness, I have learnt we have nothing to be ashamed of, speaking out not only brings inner peace but saves lives.” Melony and Hayden Slack have been incredible spokespeople for Refuge over a number of years, raising awareness through talking about the deaths of Hayden’s sister Rachael and nephew Auden. Melony and Hayden Slack, said: "We have worked with and been supported by Refuge since Hayden's sister Rachael and her toddler son Auden were killed by her ex-partner in 2010. We were horrified to learn that two women a week are killed by a current or ex-partner (*in England and Wales *) which means that over a thousand more women have lost their lives to domestic violence since Rachael and Auden were killed. We are honoured to have been given this opportunity to speak out on Rachael's behalf and to help ensure other women in her situation can access the vital support services that Refuge offers. " Natasha Saunders has supported Refuge for the past two years, most recently working on Refuge’s successful ‘The Naked Threat campaign’, sharing her experiences which helped implement necessary change to the Domestic Abuse Bill earlier this year. The Naked Threat Campaign changed the law to make threatening to share intimate images a crime. Hear more from Natasha  in this video. Natasha Saunders said: "I'm working with Refuge to be the voice for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. When two women a week die at the hands of their abuser, I feel it is my job to speak the words they didn’t have the chance to. With awareness and education, we can make positive change" Find out more about Refuge’s survivor ambassadors on our website.   ENDS. Images and assets available here. For more information or to arrange an interview contact the press office on email press@refuge.org.uk  About Refuge: Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org

Refuge anniversary: 50 years on domestic abuse is getting smarter
Refuge anniversary: 50 years on domestic abuse is getting smarter

50 years on domestic abuse is getting smarter: Refuge brings into sharp focus the rise of tech abuse on 50th anniversary with launch of new ad campaign. Refuge has seen a 97% increase in number of complex tech abuse cases compared to the first three months of 2020 In the last 50 years, Refuge’s job has got harder as the progression of technology has made abuse smarter and easier Refuge has created a compelling multi-platform campaign to raise awareness of insidious, growing tools of tech abuse Watch the ad on YouTube Today, Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, marks 50 years of providing specialist services and campaigning to end domestic abuse. In tribute, the non-profit is launching a harrowing campaign to raise awareness of tech abuse, a fast-growing form of domestic abuse. While the formal definition of domestic abuse is ever-evolving, power, manipulation and control will always remain at its core. Despite Refuge’s immense and ongoing efforts, the ways in which perpetrators manifest control over women is becoming increasingly complex, making Refuge’s job more important than ever before. As technology becomes ever powerful as well as accessible, perpetrators have been able to adjust their tactics when plotting abuse against their victims. Products like smartphones, smart doorbells and smart heating, mean that abuse can be carried out invisibly and remotely – these are all highlighted in the campaign. On its 50th anniversary, Refuge brings awareness of the rise of tech abuse and the expert support the charity provides for survivors to the fore. The campaign subverts a seemingly top-end tech ad to create a dramatic rug pull effect on viewers, showcasing how easily tech can be used as a form of domestic abuse. The core message is that while domestic abuse is getting smarter, Refuge’s job is getting bigger and needs support now more than ever. Through a dramatized film, radio, three poster ads and a tech influencer and celebrity take over from supporters like Stacey Dooley and Zara McDermott, Refuge hopes to reach more survivors of tech abuse and spread awareness of the warning signs whilst raising much needed funds. Between April 2020 and May 2021, Refuge saw on average a 97% increase in the number of complex tech abuse cases when compared to the first three months of 2020. In the last 5 months, this number has jumped to an average of 118% more complex tech abuse cases compared to before March 2020, a statistic that illuminates this ever-growing form of abuse. Wider research of 2,000 women in the UK, recently carried out by Refuge and Avast, uncovered data that further highlights the challenges faced with the rise of tech abuse. This research brought to light 10 Internet of Things home devices that can be used as tools to perpetuate domestic abuse. The data showed 66% of women did not know where to source information to help secure the devices in their home if they felt they had been compromised by an abuser – a statistic that rises to 79% for those aged 45 and over. 41% of women in the UK said that a partner or family member knows the password to their personal devices – with 28% of these women saying that they did not give this password willingly . Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: “50 years on from opening the world’s first refuge there is sadly little to be celebrating. The numbers of women experiencing domestic abuse, especially in the arena of tech abuse, is rising – not decreasing. Refuge has never needed support from the public to help raise awareness of and support its work more. The rise of tech and smart products are of major concern to Refuge. Whilst tech is a massive enabler in our lives, for women experiencing domestic abuse it is an ever-growing tool used to create fear, harass, intimidate and control them. Refuge is dealing with these complex issues head-on. It is our job to ensure we support women and meet their needs in a climate where abuse is becoming easier and more complex. It is our job to ensure that women are not forced offline, or to abandon their tech devices, but instead are empowered to use tech safely and confidently. But we can't achieve this on our own. We need support from the public and our funders more than ever – women's lives depend on it.” Amy Aldworth, survivor of tech abuse, said: "As a survivor of tech abuse, I know how intimidating and terrifying it can be to be harassed online and via personal devices. For me it started by receiving numerous harassing messages via my phone and social networks. Being on the receiving end of threatening messages interrupted my everyday life and made normal tasks feel impossible. We are reliant on our phones and social media to socialise with friends, work and be part of society but so many people still don't realise how these technologies are weaponised against women by perpetrators of abuse, it's very real and very scary. This Refuge campaign shows the true story of what it is like to experience domestic abuse in 2021 as we all rely on these technologies that are supposed to make our lives easier but for survivors of abuse like myself can be the very tool used against us. Hopefully people will understand that abuse has become even more complex than when Refuge was formed 50 years ago and the need for support is bigger than ever.” --ENDS-- Notes to editors About Refuge: Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Working with creative studio Optical Arts, founded by director and photographer Dan Tobin Smith, BBH created a haunting pro bono campaign designed to lure people in and stop them in their tracks highlighting the impact tech abuse has on thousands of women across the UK and the ongoing support Refuge offers. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool. Visit Refuge’s Tech Safety Website at www.RefugeTechSafety.org for information on tech abuse and to find guidance on how to secure your personal and home devices. For real time automated support Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool. Footnotes: *All statistics shared within the release are taken from research carried out by Censuswide, surveying, 2,000 women in the UK Link to assets IG Story image , 1 x 1 image, 4 x 5 image, 9 x 16 video (15 seconds), 9 x 16 video (40 seconds), 1 x 1 video (40 seconds)

Refuge to hold a 50th Anniversary Art Auction at Bonhams.
Refuge to hold a 50th Anniversary Art Auction at Bonhams.

Refuge: Recognising 50 years of supporting women and children against domestic abuse Refuge are to hold a 50th Anniversary Art Auction at Bonhams. Fifty years on from the world’s first refuge being set up in Chiswick, West London in 1971, Refuge reflects on the last fifty years of a growing raft of life-saving services, whilst working hard to empower women and children who experience domestic abuse. As Refuge marks this milestone 50th Anniversary, demand for its services is higher than ever before, and fundraising remains a pivotal aspect of the charity’s work, which is essential to keeping its vital services running. Refuge will be holding its first ever art auction at Bonhams which will comprise 11-lots of high-value artworks kindly donated to the charity. 100% of the proceeds will go to the charity. The auction also aims to raise awareness of all forms of domestic abuse and reflect on the past 50 years, whilst also pausing to think about how Refuge will be tackling new challenges that may emerge throughout the next 50 years. Whilst social changes and legislation have progressed since the 1970’s, including the passing of the landmark and much-needed Domestic Abuse Act earlier this year, new threats to women’s safety such as the rise of accessible technology which is misused by perpetrators of abuse are growing concerns for the charity. The auction will take place Wednesday 1st December and can be accessed online via Bonhams website. A private view for invited guests will take place on Monday 29th November at Bonhams, 101 New Bond St, London, W1S 1SR. Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive Officer, said: “Refuge is so proud to partner with Bonhams for our 50th anniversary. Through this collaboration we are another step closer to a world where domestic abuse is not tolerated and where women and children can live in safety. 50 years ago, we opened the world’s first refuge and sadly 50 years on, our work is as essential and more in demand than ever. Domestic abuse is getting smarter, with the rise of complex cases such as tech abuse, and thus, our job is getting harder and bigger. We are so grateful to Bonhams, the artists and our supporters for this opportunity to raise essential funds, without which we cannot run our vital services.” Highlights of the artworks that have kindly been donated and will be available to bid on during this auction include: Chantal Joffe (B. 1969), Bella in a Yellow Cardigan, 2013. Estimate: £3,500 - £5,500. Maggi Hambling (B. 1945), Moon and Sea, 2020. Estimate: £2,000 - £3,000. SWOON (B. 1977), Girl from Ranoon Province (Bangkok), 2021. Estimate: £2,000 - £3,000. The Connor Brothers & Noel Gallagher, These Are Crazy Days, 2021. Estimate: £2,000 -£3,000. David Hockney (B. 1937), Bowl of Fruit, 1986. Estimate: £4,000 - £6,000. Images are available here. View the catalogue at Bonhams here Cassi Young, Bonhams Head of Sale, commented: “We are very pleased to be partnering with Refuge for this exclusive sale. Refuge is such an important charity, which supports women and children facing domestic abuse across the country. We are delighted with the response we have had from the artists, who have kindly donated their artworks, and we expect a lot of interest in all of these wonderful pieces.” ENDS. For more information or to arrange an interview contact the press office on email press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org

Refuge launches 'Unsocial spaces' - a report on the online abuse of women
Refuge launches 'Unsocial spaces' - a report on the online abuse of women

On International Internet Day, Refuge launches 'Unsocial spaces' - a report on the online abuse of women and says social media companies, and other online platforms, are ‘failing to protect women and girls from abuse.’ Report calls on the government to explicitly include Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in the Online Safety Bill to compel platforms to act. More than one in three UK women (36%) have experienced online abuse on social media or another online platform. This is equivalent to 11 million women across the UK. 1 in 6 of these women experienced this abuse from a partner or ex-partner, equivalent to almost 2 million women in the UK. Online abuse is twice as common among young women, with 62% experiencing online abuse. 95% said the abuse had an impact on their mental health or impacted them in other life-debilitating ways - for example by affecting their income. 1 in 10 survivors said they felt suicidal as a result of the abuse. Women are seven times more likely to experience sexual harassment on social media than men. Government can better regulate social media companies via the Online Safety Bill – but it must ensure Violence Against Women and Girls is central to this Bill. Members of the public can get involved with the campaign here. Refuge, the country's largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, has today launched its 'Unsocial Spaces' report and campaign, which calls for greater scrutiny and regulation of social media, and other online platforms, to ensure they better protect women and girls from online abuse. Refuge is calling on the government to ensure the Online Safety Bill is as strong as it has the potential to be and that it includes Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) as a priority. Research carried out by Refuge has found that more than one in three women have experienced online abuse on social media or another online platform. The draft Bill, which is currently in its ‘scrutiny’ stage, does not contain any references to VAWG, which is a glaring omission, particularly given the government’s own purported commitment to prioritising tackling violence against women and girls in the ‘Tackling VAWG’ strategy, and as one of their priorities as chair of the G7. Refuge hopes that the Bill’s scrutiny committee will provide comprehensive feedback to the government, based on our research, and ensure the draft Bill is significantly strengthened. Tech abuse is a growing form of domestic abuse; Refuge is the only frontline organisation with a specialist tech abuse service and has identified significant failings by social media companies in dealing with online abuse of women and girls. The rise of social media has helped many of us stay connected with our loved ones and participate in public debate, particularly given the ongoing pandemic, but online abuse is a major part of online life for women and girls, and social media companies are currently not doing enough to deal with this growing problem and how their platforms facilitate and exacerbate online VAWG. The solution must not be for women to come offline, as is too often the case currently; instead, social media companies need to ensure they are protecting women and girls and ensuring they can access online spaces safely. Refuge's specialist tech team works with women every day who are experiencing abuse via technology. Domestic abuse perpetrated on social media features in 35% of issues reported to the tech abuse team. Tech abuse rarely occurs in isolation, frequently occurring alongside other forms of abuse. According to our survey, 94% of female survivors experience other forms of domestic abuse alongside the abuse they receive on social media. In order to better understand this growing form of abuse Refuge commissioned a representative survey of 2,264 UK adults. The results paint a concerning picture about the prevalence of online abuse as well as wholesale inadequacies in the way social media companies respond to it, leaving women feeling unsupported and in distress. It is clear that much more needs to be done not only to protect women and girls but also to hold perpetrators to account. The survey found that more than one in three women in the UK has experienced online abuse (equivalent to 11 million women across the UK), rising to almost two in three (62%) amongst young women (aged 18-34). 1 in 6 of these women experienced this abuse from a partner or ex-partner, making abuse on social media a clear domestic abuse issue, and one which Refuge is uniquely qualified to address and advise on. Topline results from the survey (full report is here) More than one in three UK women (36%) have experienced online abuse on social media or another online platform. This is equivalent to 11 million women across the UK. Of these women, 1 in 6 experienced this abuse from a partner or ex-partner. This means that almost 2 million women in the UK have faced online abuse from a partner or ex-partner. Online abuse is twice as common among young women, with 62% experiencing online abuse. The effects on survivors are serious; 1 in 10 survivors told us they felt suicidal as a result of the abuse. 38% of women who experienced abuse on social media from a partner or former partner said they felt unsafe or less confident online as a result. 95% said the abuse had an impact on their mental health or impacted them in other life-debilitating ways - for example by affecting their income. Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: “The rise in tech abuse is a problem which Refuge has been leading the fight against. Our specialist tech abuse team are supporting large numbers of women every day who have experienced this form of abuse. What our survey data shows is the staggering scale of abuse against women on social media and the failure of social media companies to act accordingly to protect women and girls. From our experience supporting survivors, we know that platforms are failing survivors, frequently leaving their reports unanswered for weeks, if not months, with very little, if any, action taken. With so much of our lives lived online, particularly during the pandemic, it is vital that social media companies are both taking steps to tackle and prevent online abuse of women and girls, including survivors of domestic abuse, and to understand the devastating impact it has. The government has a unique opportunity, via the Online Safety Bill, to protect women and girls, by better regulating social media companies and requiring them to put policies and practices in place to provide the support and protection women deserve. But right now, the draft Bill doesn't contain a single reference to VAWG, which is a glaring omission. When the Bill scrutiny committee reports back to the Government later this year, we hope that they will insist on VAWG being central to this Bill, encouraging the government to use this opportunity to take concrete action against VAWG, and make good on their commitments to prioritise this insidious crime.” Amy Aldworth, survivor of tech abuse, said: “I was stalked and harassed on social media by a man I met on a dating app. Somehow he managed to find all of my social media accounts and even those of my friends and family. The messages just kept coming and no matter how many times I blocked him, he would manage to create new profiles and continue to harass me. At first, the police didn’t take the situation seriously and it took me filing an official complaint for them to press charges. Just because abuse is happening online, it doesn’t mean that the effects of it aren’t serious. My anxiety and depression spiraled because of the abuse and I had to take time off work. I was terrified that he was behind every corner. What made everything worse was not receiving a response from the dating app I used, after I had reported his abuse. For all I know, he could still be using the platform, free to abuse other women just like me. It’s not good enough. The government needs to ensure that these platforms are held accountable for the harm caused on them. Only through regulating online platforms can the government ensure that women like me are able to access justice and continue using these online spaces safely.” Cecilia*, a survivor of tech abuse supported by Refuge, said: 'One of the most devastating impacts of the tech abuse I experienced from my abusive ex-partner was being humiliated by him on social media. Even before I escaped him, my abuser was always posting things online. I never felt comfortable with how much he wanted to share. Then his abuse escalated and he began posting abusive messages about me on social media for all to see. He messaged everyone we knew with lies about me and even used community group chats and forums to tarnish my name. It was so humiliating. I lost friends and I lost my standing in the community. It affected my ability to provide a supportive, community environment for my child. Social media platforms make it very difficult to report this type of abuse and I had very little faith in them to actually do anything about the abuse I was experiencing. When you’re experiencing domestic abuse, the last thing you want to do is fill out a form with only an “ABC” of options for what’s going on. It’s more complicated than that and not something that an algorithm can just figure out. Social media platforms must provide more options for women like me and the government has an opportunity to ensure this happens. The government must also do more to raise awareness of how this type of abuse affects women, because I felt that there was a general lack of awareness within my community that what I was going through was actually tech abuse.” *name has been changed ENDS Editors notes: Full list of Refuge recommendations. Recommendations – an action plan for change: All online platforms should be legally obliged to prioritise the prevention and investigation of tech abuse occurring on their platforms Statutory regulation of online platforms should explicitly reflect the harms and impact of tech abuse and other online violence against women and girls (VAWG) Online platforms should be obliged to cooperate with the police and with other platforms to pursue perpetrators of tech abuse Online platforms must consider how their products can be used to perpetrate tech abuse, and a responsibility placed on platforms to embed safety by design Online platforms should be regulated by a robust, independent regulator and regularly report on tech abuse taking place on their platforms Social media companies should invest in human moderation to support reporting and content moderation systems, and training and support which enables staff to respond effectively to tech abuse – domestic abuse is too nuanced and too dangerous to rely solely on artificial intelligence (AI) or algorithm responses Government should fund specialist violence against women and girls services which provide support to victims of tech abuse and other forms of online VAWG Training on tech abuse should be rolled out to the police, and the police must be allocated sufficient resources and technology to promptly investigate tech abuse Government and social media companies should invest in raising awareness of tech abuse and social media companies should routinely develop and promote safety guidance for users About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org Interviews available with Refuge spokespeople and survivors on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge responds to Autumn budget
Refuge responds to Autumn budget

In response to today’s Autumn budget , Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: 'This is a disappointing budget. Despite the governments very public commitments to addressing and responding to domestic abuse and wider Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), the Autumn budget announced by the Chancellor today contains very little detail on the level of funding for vital, specialist service providers that support survivors of domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG. While it is positive that funding to increase the number of Independent Sexual and Domestic Violence Advocates has been announced, Refuge is disappointed that there appear to be no commitment from the Treasury to provide the critical funding that specialist domestic abuse support services need, which is estimated to be over £400 million per year. Failing to provide this level of funding means that some women and girls will inevitably be unable to access the specialist services they need, when they need them. Refuge is disappointed that the continued public commitment to prioritise VAWG has simply not translated into concrete funding commitments and priorities in this Budget, at a time when demand for specialist services has soared over the course of the pandemic and shows no sign of slowing down. Only by listening to, and hearing, the funding needs of frontline organisations, often making desperate pleas for funding, and committing enough money to specialist services, can we truly believe that the government is serious about its commitment to making VAWG a priority. ' ENDS About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge responds to announcement that government intend to extend time survivors can report common assault
Refuge responds to announcement that government intend to extend time survivors can report common assault

Responding to the news that the government intends to extend the time survivors of domestic abuse have to report common assault, Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: ‘Refuge is delighted to learn that the government intends to adopt the amendment from Baroness Newlove and give survivors of domestic abuse who experience common assault a longer time frame to report the crimes committed against them. We look forward to hearing the detail of their proposal very soon. As Refuge we work with women every day who know just how hard it can be to report domestic abuse - they might not yet have fled their perpetrator, they may fear repercussions, or they might not yet have processed the assault they experienced. Couple that with trust in police being at an all-time low, means the conditions for survivors to come forward is incredibly challenging. Refuge has campaigned along with Centre For Women’s Justice, Women’s Aid Federation of England, and survivor Erica Osakwe for this change. We are delighted to hear that the government intends to support this call and extend thanks to Yvette Cooper MP and Baroness Newlove for driving this work through Parliament and to the Home Secretary Priti Patel for listening to, and hearing, our calls for change. This amendment, when it comes into practice, will make an enormous difference to survivors of domestic abuse and will help offer much greater protection to women and girls.’ ENDS   About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk

Hidden Home Dangers: Avast and Refuge List the Ten Connected Devices Most Commonly Reported by Women Who Experience Domestic Abuse
Hidden Home Dangers: Avast and Refuge List the Ten Connected Devices Most Commonly Reported by Women Who Experience Domestic Abuse

Hidden Home Dangers: Avast and Refuge List the Ten Connected Devices Most Commonly Reported by Women Who Experience Domestic Abuse RING Doorbells, Smart TVs and Amazon Alexas are among the ten most common devices used by perpetrators of domestic abuse New investigative research with 2,000[1] UK women highlights the growing problem of tech abuse Refuge and Avast launch new interactive tool to empower women to secure the connected devices within their homes. Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy, and Refuge, the national domestic abuse charity, have outlined the top ten internet-connected (IoT) devices that are most commonly reported by victims of domestic abuse as being used against them. For most people, smart devices offer convenience in the home and while manufacturers such as Amazon, Google and Apple take precautions to mitigate abuse, in the wrong hands, internet-connected devices can be used by abusers to harm and exert control over their partners. Refuge has experienced increased reports from women seeking guidance on how to secure their technology, and support with the most common devices reported to Refuge as follows: RING doorbells Amazon Alexa & Amazon Echo Google Home Hub Nest systems and smart thermostats Smart TVs Smart Plugs Fitness trackers and Smartwatches (Apple Watch) Wireless systems Smart locks CCTV Cameras Despite the reports Refuge have received, wider research of 2,000 women in the UK carried out by Avast and Refuge found that nearly half (48%) were unable to name a single device they believed could be vulnerable to abuse, increasing to 60% for those over the age of 55. Further to this, 66% of women did not know where to get information to help secure the devices in their home if they felt they had been compromised by an abuser– rising to 79% for those aged 45 and over. The research also illustrates how such technology is used in abuse scenarios: just over half (64%) of women in the UK have admin control over the IoT devices in their own homes; one in four (27%) stated that admin access for these devices has not been shared equally or with transparency in their household; and 18% of women said they have no control over the Wi-Fi settings in their home, but their partner or family member does. Further to this, 41% of women in the UK stated that a partner or family member knows the password to their personal devices – with 28% of these women saying that they did not give this password willingly. Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said “While the findings from this research are deeply concerning, we believe they only scratch the surface of a much harsher reality. Many women might not be able to spot the signs that they have been coerced into giving their password to an abusive partner, or unaware that an abusive member of their household is spying on them through their Wi-Fi. The reality is one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, and tech abuse is increasingly part of that problem, which is why Refuge teamed up with Avast. Not only are we trying to raise awareness of this issue, but we want to equip women to mitigate against the potential dangers of these devices in the wrong hands.” To help women regain control of their digital devices and environment, Avast and Refuge have joined forces to launch an IoT home safety tool: https://refugetechsafety.org/hometech. This interactive tool is designed to highlight the ways smart home devices can be misused and help women keep their devices safe and free from abuse. The interactive tool [pictured below], replicates a typical home setting, highlighting these devices in situ. When each device is clicked on it will provide women with easily actionable steps to secure the device. Jaya Baloo, CISO at Avast, said “The United Nations called domestic abuse and violence against women at the height of the Covid-19 crisis a ‘shadow pandemic’ and tech abuse plays a large part in this growing problem. Our threat researchers found that there has been a 93% increase in the use of spyware and stalkerware apps in the UK since lockdown measures were introduced and we stress-tested these ten devices reported to Refuge. They are all extremely popular and common, so we have focused on providing clear and actionable advice for women on how to keep their devices secured from misuse.” Louise’s Story of Tech Abuse Louise*, a tech abuse survivor supported by Refuge, said: “My abuser works in tech and had control over our home Wi-fi. He would tell me I was too stupid to understand it. During lockdown, his abuse escalated, and I needed to take steps to protect myself. I set up some smart home devices to record the abuse. It never occurred to me that my abusive partner would be able to hack these devices and use them against me; to spy on me, to listen to my calls, to watch me. When I left the house to go out, I’d come back to my things soiled or missing. But when I’d check the logs on my home cameras, the recordings of those times weren’t there. I couldn’t understand it. I continually doubted myself. My abuser would deny ever having touched anything but would drop hints to let me know he knew the contents of my private conversations. It was terrifying, confusing and traumatic. I didn't know where to turn for help, but I found Refuge and contacted them for support. They helped me to recognise my experiences as tech abuse and helped me slowly regain control of my devices. Although he no longer lives in my home, I still find it hard to fully relax around my tech. It never leaves the back of my mind that he could still be listening and watching. You’re never free of it.” *Name has been changed The IoT Home Safety tool can be found here. https://refugetechsafety.org/hometech -ENDS- About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool. Visit Refuge’s Tech Safety Website at www.RefugeTechSafety.org for information on tech abuse and to find guidance on how to secure your personal and home devices. For real time automated support Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool. About Avast: Avast (LSE:AVST), a FTSE 100 company, is a global leader in digital security and privacy. With over 435 million users online, Avast offers products under the Avast and AVG brands that protect people from threats on the internet and the evolving IoT threat landscape. The company’s threat detection network is among the most advanced in the world, using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to detect threats in real time. Avast digital security products for Mobile, PC or Mac are top-ranked and certified by VB100, AV-Comparatives, AV-Test, SE Labs and others. Avast is a member of Coalition Against Stalkerware, No More Ransom and Internet Watch Foundation. Visit: www.avast.com. Keep in touch with Avast: Follow us on Twitter: @Avast For security and privacy insights, visit the Avast blog: https://blog.avast.com/ For handy guides, advice and tips, visit Avast Academy: https://www.avast.com/c-academy Join our LinkedIn community: https://www.linkedin.com/company/avast/ Visit our Facebook group: www.facebook.com/avast Research Methodology: This research was conducted by Censuswide in July 2021, with 2,000 women in the UK aged 18 and over.

Refuge responds to new BBC FOI request data on women being timed out of justice
Refuge responds to new BBC FOI request data on women being timed out of justice

Refuge responds to new BBC FOI request data on women being timed out of justice Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO, said: “Refuge is grateful to the BBC for shining a light on the issue of the common assault six-month time limit in cases of domestic abuse. It is wholly unacceptable that we have seen a 159% increase in cases failing because of the six-month time limit from 2016-17 to 2020-21, while assaults flagged as instances of domestic abuse have increased by 71%. This is incredibly concerning, yet sadly, these statistics don’t come as a surprise. Refuge knows of the many barriers that women face when reporting domestic abuse to the police. It can take many months and a lot of courage for women to feel able to come forward, yet many will never see justice being served. Women are being timed out of access to justice, and that is neither fair nor acceptable. Police forces across the country are routinely failing women. Dismissive attitudes and delays to investigations are common. That’s why Refuge is campaigning for the common assault charging time-limit to be extended. Refuge wants to see a change to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would extend the length of time survivors have to report incidents of common assault to the police from the current six months to a maximum of 18 months. This would enable many more women to have access to the justice and protection they need and deserve.” Erica Osakwe, founder of campaigning organisation Victims Too and survivor of domestic abuse, said: “Coming forward to the police about the abuse I experienced was an extremely difficult thing to do, made even harder by the response I received. My case was mishandled and delayed from the beginning, resulting in no charge being brought against my abuser. Nor did the police refer me for additional support to an organisation like Refuge, or even inform me that support is out there. The experience made me feel like my story wasn’t valid, like the police didn’t believe I was a victim.” ENDS. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge launches 'Enough is Enough' campaign to call for amendment to Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill
Refuge launches 'Enough is Enough' campaign to call for amendment to Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill

Refuge launches 'Enough is Enough' campaign to call for amendment to Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill Campaign calls for Bill to explicitly include domestic abuse, sexual violence, and domestic homicide in Serious Violence Duty Since 2009, 16 women have lost their lives to male violence where the perpetrator is a serving or former police officer (source, Femicide Census) Campaigners from Refuge, including CEO Ruth Davison, along with supporters Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and Jo Brand, will today gather at 09:15am outside New Scotland Yard to display 16 silhouettes with the important words 'Enough is Enough' to represent the 16 women that have been killed by current or former police officers since 2009 (source 'Femicide Census'). Karen Ingala Smith, co-founder of the Femicide Census will be available remotely. Refuge, the country's largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services has, together with the Femicide Census co-founder Karen Ingala Smith, today launched its 'Enough is Enough' campaign, asking the government to take immediate, affirmative action to better protect women and girls. Supporters will be emailing the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, urging her to take action. We know that the Home Secretary shares our concerns that violence against women and girls must be urgently addressed and echoes our call that 'Enough is Enough'. According to the Femicide Census, since 2009, 16 women have lost their lives to male violence where the perpetrator has been a serving or former police officer. Since the horrific murder of Sarah Everard, 81 women have lost their lives to male violence. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill, due back in the House of Lords on 20th October for its Committee Stage, provides the perfect legislative vehicle by which the government can make change. At a time when Violence Against Women and Girls has never been higher on the public or political agenda, Refuge is hopeful that the government will act. Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: 'Refuge has launched this campaign today to send a very clear message to the government that we need action. Earlier this week, we heard that a new inquiry would launch - but that is simply not enough. The Home Secretary herself has said 'Enough is Enough' and we hope that our campaign can bring about real change for women and girls. We need to insist that the culture of misogyny in the police is challenged without delay. That is why Refuge is gathering outside New Scotland Yard today. We know that the government has a clear mandate to do more, and we are hopeful that they will implement the very clear and much needed recommendations that came from the recent Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Refuge Services (HMICFRS) report. The report made it very clear that violence against women and girls is an epidemic, and it should be given the same priority as terrorism. Refuge hears from women every day that have no trust in the police to protect them. We know that police officers accused of domestic abuse are a third less likely to be convicted than those who are not police officers. We have heard the horrific accounts of how Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer, was able to use his position to kidnap, rape, and murder Sarah Everard. Enough is enough.' Karen Ingala Smith, co-founder of the Femicide Census said: 'Since 2009, the Femicide Census has documented that 16 women have been killed by men who were serving or former police officers. Men’s violence cannot be allowed to continue to end and degrade women’s lives. We need to see urgent and radical action from the government if we are going to see progress reducing men’s violence against women, including fatal violence. I find it astonishing that the work to document the lives and deaths of women killed by men is done by me, from home, simply because I feel so strongly about ensuring these women are named and recognised, rather than by a government appointed body whose job it is to record when women are killed, by who and in what circumstances. What message does that send to women and girls? What message does it send to abusive men? Enough is enough. The time for the government to hear our warnings and take action is long overdue.' Supporters can take action by emailing the Home Secretary here: https://campaign.refuge.org.uk/page/91228/action/1   ENDS. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk

The West End hit production of Tina - Tina Turner the Musical have paired up with Refuge
The West End hit production of Tina - Tina Turner the Musical have paired up with Refuge

The West End hit production of Tina - Tina Turner the Musical is delighted to have paired up with Refuge national domestic abuse charity to celebrate their 50th anniversary since opening the world’s first refuge. A special performance of Tina - Tina Turner the Musical will take place this Sunday, 10 October 2021. With a cast led by Aisha Jawando and Jammy Kasongo as Tina and Ike, Chanel Haynes who plays the role of Tina at some performances each week and is an active supporter of Refuge will join the pre-show reception. For the month of October, when you book through the website for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical patrons will have the opportunity to add a £3 donation per booking for Refuge. Ruth Davison Refuge CEO said: ‘Tina Turner epitomises the thousands of women Refuge supports every day – women who are resilient and, like Tina, are survivors of domestic abuse. With one in four women across the country experiencing domestic abuse at some time in their lives, this is an issue that should concern us all. Refuge is delighted that the Tina Turner Musical team is raising awareness and funds for our vital life-saving and life-changing work at this wonderful West End gala event. 50 years ago, Refuge opened the world’s first refuge – yet still domestic abuse remains rife across the country today. Refuge wants women to know that if they are experiencing domestic abuse they are not alone and that we are here to support them. Thank you to the cast and the production team for supporting our work – together we are shining a light on domestic abuse and ensuring women across the country know how they can access support.’ Chanel Haynes said: “When I got the call that I had been chosen to play Tina in our musical. I was going to live my dream. But there was one thing I didn’t prepare for – how to properly channel the physically-abusive aspect of her life. I asked a dear friend of mine who survived her abusive past to reveal to me and pour into me her pain. After hearing her story, I vowed, I would use this opportunity to shine light on those that need it most. That’s when I found Refuge. Refuge is a lighthouse, and I want to be one of God’s daughters that fuels it’s flame.” Tali Pelman, Producer of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with Refuge in their 50th anniversary year and we hope our charity performance will help to highlight and amplify their hugely important work. Tina Turner has led an extraordinary life and we hope our show serves as a legacy of her inspirational message and her triumph over adversity. We are looking forward to a very special afternoon.” Tina - Tina Turner the Musical which is based on the life of legendary artist Tina Turner and produced in association with Tina Turner herself is currently booking to 26 June 2022. The critically acclaimed production received its world premiere in April 2018 in London and subsequently broke all Box Office records at the Aldwych Theatre. This new musical reveals a comeback story like no other, of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of racism, sexism and ageism to become the global Queen of Rock n’ Roll. Tina - Tina Turner the Musical is a celebration of resilience and an inspiration of triumph over adversity. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and written by Katori Hall with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, Tina - Tina Turner the Musical is choreographed by Anthony van Laast, with set and costume designs by Mark Thompson, musical supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Bruno Poet, sound by Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Jeff Sugg and orchestrations by Ethan Popp. Tina - Tina Turner the Musical is produced in the West End by Stage Entertainment, Joop van den Ende and Tali Pelman, in association with Tina Turner. See It safely Tina - Tina Turner the Musical is fully committed to the safety of our audience, performers, staff and everyone who works at or visits our theatre. To help us welcome audiences back safely, we have taken care to meet Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and are partnered with Society of London Theatre’s ‘See It Safely’ campaign. Patrons can find out more at https://officiallondontheatre.com/see-it-safely/ about the safety measures that have been put in place ready for their visits. Images: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qd4v6qjzpueiyum/AAD9NeThGdsBiKvbyLuq85Dea?dl=0 FAQs regarding Covid-19: https://tinathemusical.com/uk/ticket-information/ Listings information: Theatre: Aldwych Theatre, Aldwych, London WC2B 4DF Dates: 28 July 2021 – 26 June 2022 Performances: Monday at 7pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm and Sunday at 3pm Box Office: 0845 200 7981 Website: www.tinathemusical.com Facebook: TinaTheMusical Twitter: TinaTheMusical Instagram: TinaTheMusical __________________________________________________________________________________ For further press information: Janine.shalom@premiercomms.com or ella.taibel@premiercomms.com OR Press@refuge.org.uk ENDS. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org For more information contact Sarah Berry-Valentine, Press and Communications Officer on press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge responds to Home Secretary's speech to Conservative Party Conference
Refuge responds to Home Secretary's speech to Conservative Party Conference

Responding to the Home Secretary's speech to Conservative Party Conference today, Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: 'While it was heartening to see Violence against Women and Girls as the headline item in the Home Secretary's speech to Conference today, Refuge is concerned that the limit of government ambition to tackle this serious issue is nothing more than an inquiry and a task force. These measures will cause delays, spend more public money, and push the issue into the political long grass. What we need is affirmative action to address the systematic failures in policing which allowed Wayne Couzens, a serving police officer, to commit such a heinous crime, and we need to see that action now In March, this government committed to ensuring its 43 police forces sign up to recognising misogyny as a hate crime. Yet so far, only 11 forces have done so. This morning the Prime Minster said that addressing domestic abuse and rape were his number one policing priority. The announcements today do not reflect this. The culture of misogyny which runs through policing is continuing without challenge. Refuge and the women it serves, need to see meaningful action from the government now – actions which holds the police to account and dramatically improves how they respond to violence against women and girls. Refuge remains resolute in its demands - violence against women and girls (VAWG) must be treated as the serious crime that it is. The Policing Bill, due to return to the House of Lords later this month, offers a real opportunity to extend the Serious Violence Duty so it includes VAWG. That would be a first step to seriously addressing the circumstances which led to the horrific murder of Sarah Everard, and the 81 other women whose lives have been lost to male violence since Sarah's tragic death. The time to act is now. For Sarah. For Sabina. For every woman who has lost her life to male violence, the government must act now.’ ---- Ends ---- Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Ahead of Black History Month, Refuge calls for better protection for Black women experiencing domestic abuse
Ahead of Black History Month, Refuge calls for better protection for Black women experiencing domestic abuse

Refuge data shows Black women experiencing domestic abuse less likely to be referred for specialist support by police New data from Refuge, the UK’s largest single provider of domestic abuse services, shows that Black women are less likely to be referred by police to Refuge for support. Between March 2020 and June 2021, Black women were 14% less likely to be referred to Refuge for support by police than white survivors of domestic abuse. However, Refuge also found that Black survivors were 3% more likely to report the abuse they experienced to the police than white survivors of domestic abuse, over the same period. This data suggests that the police are routinely failing Black women. By not referring them to specialist domestic abuse services, the police are effectively cutting Black women off from a lifeline that is crucial for their safety. Refuge, a frontline organisation, which supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day knows just how important access to frontline services is for women experiencing domestic abuse. The police are often the first professional agency to be alerted to cases of domestic abuse and as a result have a unique insight into the abuse taking place behind closed doors. It is crucial that the police refer survivors to specialist agencies, ensuring women don’t have to face abuse alone and that they can access the support they need swiftly and easily. Prior research from SafeLives also suggests that survivors who are referred to specialist domestic abuse services by the police or health services will experience abuse for a significantly shorter period than if they self-refer (2.1 years vs 4.9 years). Sistah Space, an organisation set up to support African heritage women and girls who've experienced domestic or sexual abuse, have also highlighted the many ways police fail to recognise and address abuse against Black women in their campaign for Valerie’s Law. Valerie’s Law would ensure that police and specialist agencies undergo mandatory, culturally appropriate training to better understand the needs of black women affected by domestic abuse. Refuge’s data also shows that during the pandemic, Black women supported by Refuge were 3% more likely to have experienced physical abuse and 4% more likely to have experienced sexual abuse than white survivors of abuse. This suggest that Black women are more likely to reach Refuge’s services when they are experiencing the most visible and extreme forms of abuse and may not be taken as seriously when reporting more hidden and insidious forms of abuse such as psychological and financial abuse. Erica Osakwe, a campaigner and survivor of domestic abuse, said: “Coming forward to the police about the abuse I experienced was an extremely difficult thing to do, made even harder by the response I received. I’m a Black woman and was accompanied to the police station by a white friend. One of the officers involved in my case immediately assumed that it was my friend who’d come to report a crime. What does this say about how seriously the police take abuse against Black women? My case was mishandled and delayed from the beginning, resulting in no charge being brought against my abuser. Nor did the police refer me for additional support to an organisation like Refuge, or even inform me that support is out there. The experience made me feel like my story wasn’t valid, like the police didn’t believe I was a victim.” Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said: “Time and again, Refuge hears about the additional barriers Black women face when coming forward to report domestic abuse. We know that Black women’s concerns are less likely to be taken seriously and this new data from Refuge shows that they’re also less likely to be referred for the lifesaving support that our organisation provides. What message does that send to Black women experiencing domestic abuse? We wholeheartedly support the tireless campaigning of Sistah Space for Valerie’s Law, which would mandate culturally specific training for police officers, ensuring signs of abuse are not ignored when Black women come forward. We must ensure all agencies work better to protect Black women and ensure they are able to access support swiftly and easily.” ---- Ends ---- Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org. About Sistah Space: Sistah Space work with African heritage women and girls who've experienced domestic or sexual abuse or who have lost a loved one to domestic violence. Their mission is to encourage African heritage survivors to report abuse by providing a safe cultural venue, in a confidential environment, and to encourage community integration. Sistah Space is campaigning for Valerie’s Law to make specialist training mandatory for all police and other government agencies that support black women and girls affected by domestic abuse. Police and agencies should have culturally appropriate training to better understand the cultural needs of black women affected by domestic abuse. Visit the Sistah Space website at https://www.sistahspace.org/ and sign the petition for Valerie’s Law at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/578416

Refuge responds to Wayne Couzens hearing
Refuge responds to Wayne Couzens hearing

Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: 'The news today that Wayne Couzens handcuffed Sarah Everard, pretending to arrest her for a breach of Covid guidelines, before raping and killing her is horrifying. This man, who was tasked with protecting all of us from harm, who Sarah should have been able to trust, used his power to rape and kill a woman who was just walking home. I stand alongside Sarah's family, alongside the family of Sabina Nessa, and alongside the families of every woman who has lost her life to male violence. I cannot imagine the pain they are feeling. Women's lives matter. The work to end the abuse of power by men over women and to tackle misogyny must continue at pace. Women's lives depend on it and the memories of every woman who has lost their lives to male violence deserve a robust criminal justice response and urgent steps to be taken to ensure that we create a society where this kind of abuse is not tolerated and never happens again’. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Refuge outlines concerns about scrapping Universal Credit uplift.
Refuge outlines concerns about scrapping Universal Credit uplift.

Refuge issues stark warning to the government and outlines fears that scrapping the £20 uplift to Universal Credit will have a damaging impact on survivors of domestic abuse. Refuge, the country's largest single provider of specialist domestic services, and sole provider of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline has issued a warning over fears scrapping the £20 Universal Credit uplift will have a damaging effect on women experiencing domestic abuse. Currently the government are set to scrap the uplift on Wednesday 6th October.   37.32% of survivors Refuge supported across all its services from 1st September 2019 - 31st August 2020 were receiving Universal Credit. This rose to 63.23% for survivors who accessed emergency Refuge accommodation, with Universal Credit being a lifeline for the majority of women who needed to flee abuse. Further research from Refuge into the impact for survivors living on Universal Credit throughout the pandemic, shows that more women were forced to rely on benefits during Covid-19, at a time when calls and contacts to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline rose by 61% previous to the demand prior to March 2020. Rachel* a migrant survivor of domestic abuse, who experienced economic abuse and was originally locked out of specialist services as she had ‘no recourse to public funds’ but is now receiving Universal Credit, said:  “As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know that financial independence is often crucial when fleeing an abusive relationship and attempting to reach safety. However, as a condition of my spousal visa, I was subjected to the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) rule, and therefore barred from accessing benefits or housing support when leaving my former partner.   Like many migrant survivors, I was completely alone— it all felt so cruel and inhumane. I ended up applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK on the domestic violence route. But despite the economic abuse I’d experienced, the Home Office did not consider this when determining my eligibility for legal aid and/or a fee waiver, and the application exhausted my finances.  Following approval of my immigration application, my NRPF condition was lifted, and I was finally able to apply for Universal Credit. But even with the existing £20/week uplift, Universal Credit is still not enough to live on. For me, £20 a week is what I currently spend on food, so I’m struggling to work out what else I could cut as the rest of my benefit goes toward rent and essential utilities.   If the government scraps the Universal Credit uplift, I know that it will have devastating consequences for survivors of abuse, many of whom will be trapped with their abusers and unable to flee as a result.”  *Name changed to protect identity.  Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive Officer, said: “Refuge is extremely concerned about the end of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, and we urge the government to rethink. Whilst we acknowledge the government originally introduced this as a ‘temporary measure’ during the first Covid-19 lockdown, this last year has shown us how vital this payment is. It is a lifeline for many survivors of domestic abuse.   Refuge has seen a surge in cases of domestic abuse in the last 18 months and Universal Credit is a lifeline for survivors who are trying to rebuild their lives, and flee abuse, often at a huge emotional and financial cost. We have concerns scrapping the £20 uplift will push already vulnerable women and children further into poverty and worryingly may mean some women have to make the difficult choice between staying with an abusive partner or being unable to provide for themselves and their children.   Prior to the pandemic Refuge raised concerns about the safety of women on Universal Credit, who are already struggling to make ends meet, often reliant on food banks to feed themselves and their children. Refuge calls on the government to keep the £20 uplift and for fundamental welfare reform to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, including survivors of domestic abuse.” Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Refuge responds to HMICFRS report
Refuge responds to HMICFRS report

In response to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) final report on the inspection into police engagement with women and girls, Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: 'Refuge welcomes Her Majesty’s Inspectorate’s final report into police engagement with women and girls. We are pleased to see HMICFRS have highlighted the vital changes that Refuge and our colleagues across the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector have long called for. But while these recommendations are necessary, the real success will be in the actioning of them. For too long, Refuge has seen report after report which has outlined a positive path forward, yet too often we see a failure to implement strong recommendations. This must change. The report rightly calls for ‘radical action’ and we hope that the Home Secretary, who has commissioned this report, will look at the recommendations carefully and respond accordingly. The report found several areas in which the police are currently failing women and girls. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales and from the high number of VAWG cases closed without charge, to major gaps in the data recorded on VAWG offences, we know that women and girls have been let down for too long. Refuge supports the report's recommendation for “an immediate and unequivocal commitment that the response to VAWG offences is an absolute priority for government, policing, the criminal justice system, and public-sector partnerships”, matched with the resourcing needed to achieve this recommendation. This report also highlights a much-needed ‘whole system approach’ to violence against women and girls. Refuge knows that the police alone cannot challenge the misogyny which underpins, and is the root cause of, domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. Radical culture change is necessary if we are to see the progress necessary. Refuge also supports the reports recommendation for ring-fenced and long-term funding for community-based specialist support services for victims. Ensuring this dedicated funding is vital if we are to continue to prevent and support women experiencing domestic abuse and other forms of male violence. Refuge stands ready to work with the government to ensure the report’s recommendations are actioned and implemented. Until that happens, we will continue to hold the government’s feet to the fire to ensure better protection for women and girls experiencing domestic abuse.’ Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Refuge response to police super-complaint
Refuge response to police super-complaint

In response to the joint report from HMICFRS, CoP and IOPC, Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive said: “Refuge welcomes the findings in the joint report from the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), College of Policing (CoP) and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), published in response to the super complaint submitted by Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) on police use of protective measures in cases involving violence against women and girls. Refuge is grateful to CWJ for submitting this super-complaint and their tireless work fighting for better justice outcomes for survivors of violence against women and girls (VAWG.) The report illustrates a systemic failure within the police to use their powers to protect women and girls who have reported domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG. This culture of misogyny must change and this report should serve as a wake-up call to the police, who are supposed to provide support. How can trust in the police be achieved when they continually fail women and girls who need them? These findings show that police are routinely not aware of the measures they can use to protect women reporting these crimes of violence and abuse, that they find the processes for applying protective measures confusing or claim a lack of understanding in how to use them. This demonstrates the clear and urgent need for improved gender and trauma-informed training for police officers to ensure they are putting the safety of women and girls first. As Refuge knows too well, police officers not taking the safety of survivors seriously and leaving them at risk of further harm from their perpetrators, leads to women feeling deeply let down by the criminal justice system and contributes to underreporting of these crimes and to women withdrawing their support for prosecutions. We know that only around a fifth of women experiencing domestic abuse report to the police and we need to ensure there are better outcomes for those that do, as well as improving women’s confidence in how they will be treated by the police when coming forward. Every day Refuge supports women who have been left unsafe when the measures designed to protect them - whether these be non-molestation orders, restraining orders, domestic violence protection notices/orders and pre-charge bail conditions - are either not applied by the police at the point of reporting or are breached by perpetrators who face no real consequences from the police as a result. Prosecutions in cases of domestic abuse have halved in just three years, and whilst we support many of the recommendations in the report which aim to ensure that the full range of protective orders available to the police is properly understood by officers, consistently applied across police forces and effectively communicated to the women and girls who are victims of these crimes, we do not believe the recommendations go far enough in addressing the lack of resourcing within the police that is needed to make a real difference on the ground. The Domestic Abuse Act is bringing new protective measures into force, with a Domestic Abuse Protection Order pilot scheme due to launch in the coming months. It is paramount that these new measures are properly implemented by the police and fit for purpose to protect survivors. Refuge calls for robust assurances that police are going to be provided with proper training that ensures they have a deep and thorough knowledge of how to use these new and existing powers to protect women and girls. The report also calls for increased data collection but doesn’t give enough detail on what purpose this will serve. Refuge urges improved data collection across police forces be consistent and provide valuable insight into the experience of women and girls who face barriers in reporting such as Black and minoritised women and other minoritised groups so that better outcomes can be achieved for all survivors of abuse. Whilst new legislation and a stronger government focus on domestic abuse via the VAWG strategy and incoming Domestic Abuse strategy is welcome, we need to stop kicking this issue into the long grass and deferring the problem of responding to domestic abuse to a future date. Government policy and legislation is only effective if it is being put into practice and properly monitored, with real consequences for agencies that are falling short of expectations. This report shows the police response is falling wide of the mark and failing those it seeks to protect.” ENDS Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Refuge announces appointment of new Director of Service Delivery
Refuge announces appointment of new Director of Service Delivery

Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services has appointed Abigail Ampofo as its new Director of Service Delivery. Ampofo will take up this post in October this year. Formerly Regional Director of Operations at Hestia, under Abigail’s leadership Hestia has become one of the largest providers of domestic abuse refuges and of support to survivors of modern slavery in London, including the award-winning Phoenix Project. Abigail led Hestia’s development and expansion of domestic abuse services, including their first domestic abuse service outside of London, developed a centralised refuge referral line to streamline the process for women and their children accessing Hestia’s refuges and launched their first dedicated FGM support service. Currently Abigail is leading Hestia’s digital strategy development. With over 15 years’ sector leadership experience and having worked with a range of client groups with multiple and complex needs, Abigail started her social care career in housing related support services for people living with HIV. Abigail said: “Refuge is an incredible organisation powered by expertise, a dedicated workforce and an unwavering commitment to supporting women and children to live free from domestic abuse and harm. I am thrilled to be joining Refuge at a time of pivotal change both internally and externally and working with all Refuge people to shape the future of the organisation and increase our impact”. Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: “I am excited to welcome Abigail to our Senior Leadership Team. Abigail’s wealth of experience and expertise will enable Refuge's frontline services to go from strength to strength. The pandemic has drawn into sharp focus the sheer level of need for the specialist support Refuge provides, and I am thrilled to welcome Abigal to our team at a time when women and children need us more than ever’. Abigail holds an MSc in Business Psychology and professional qualifications in programme management. ENDS Interviews available on request. Please contact the Press Office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk. Photographs of Abigail Ampofo available for use. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Blog: The government’s Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy
Blog: The government’s Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy

Refuge's director of communications and external relations, Lisa King, on the government’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy. Last week, the country started to fully open again, after a challenging 16 months. Refuge knows first-hand just how difficult the pandemic has been for so many across the world - not least for women living with an abusive partner. For many women experiencing domestic abuse, this won’t have been their ‘first lockdown’, with abusers routinely using isolation as a form of control – cutting women off from their networks, preventing them from working, tracking their locations, restricting their access to cash. These are all forms of abuse that Refuge sees every day, and we are acutely aware of the impacts of lockdown on the women we support.   But as restrictions continue to loosen, and with domestic abuse never higher on the public or political agenda, we have a new opportunity to really challenge the response to domestic abuse and hold the government’s feet to the fire, making sure they deliver on their public commitments to do more for women and girls.   The VAWG strategy  Just last week, the government unveiled its long-awaited Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy – what the government intends to do in order to respond to and ultimately prevent VAWG. Refuge welcomes the ambition to increase support for survivors, hold perpetrators to account, and ultimately reduce the violence and abuse women experience. However, we can’t help but feel that an opportunity to act boldly is being missed – with minimal funding commitments and some glaring omissions.   Domestic abuse is a form of VAWG – so why have separate strategies?  Despite all VAWG specialist organisations calling for otherwise, the government has continued with its plans to produce a separate Domestic Abuse Strategy. This separation could spell disaster for ensuring a cohesive response to domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls, leading to a piece-meal approach, with reduced impact.   Domestic abuse is gendered in its nature – it is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and overwhelmingly experienced by women. It is therefore entirely unsurprising that domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG are intimately and inextricably connected. It is common for women to initially seek support from Refuge for what appears to be a ‘straight-forward’ case of domestic abuse, but then also disclose that they have experienced domestic and sexual servitude, forced marriage, or stalking once our frontline staff have gained their trust. By introducing two separate strategies, there is a risk that the root causes of these crimes – gender inequality – will be obscured, and the response siloed. One single, integrated strategy is needed to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse. Failure to do so risks fragmenting the response to VAWG and will result in ineffective strategies which are not rooted in the experiences of women.   Where is the money?  One of the major problems faced by frontline organisations across the sector is funding. Refuge has experienced significant cuts in recent years across a range of our services, with frontline services too often finding themselves on a funding cliff-edge. Long-term, sustainable, ringfenced funding is urgently needed to ensure specialist services are able to provide the support survivors need. What this strategy lacks are commitments to providing anything close to what we know is required to ensure that survivors have access to the full range of services they and their children need. Women’s Aid estimates that £393 million is needed for domestic abuse services alone. Without this, the sticking plaster approach bumps organisations from one funding crisis to the other and does little to ensure staff retention or longer-term planning. The commitment in the VAWG strategy to provide additional funding for ‘by and for’ specialist support services this year and to fund a new rape and sexual assault helpline is of course a move in the right direction - but the amount of money provided is far from adequate and is yet another example of short-term funding, which simply doesn’t guarantee the long-term provision of life-saving services.   VAWG is a crime – so why aren’t abusers being brought to justice?   Ensuring improvements in the way the police and the criminal justice system respond to domestic abuse and VAWG should be a priority. Too often, promises are made but very little is delivered. Confidence in the criminal justice system and the police to protect women and ensure they have access to justice is staggeringly low. Is this any surprise when rape convictions are at an all-time low and when we know that police officers are a third less likely to be convicted of domestic abuse than the general public? Official statistics on domestic abuse and rape show that not only are prosecutions and convictions are continuing to drop, but that rape survivors are being left in limbo for almost five months while they wait for the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) to decide whether or not to charge the perpetrator. Women are being left in limbo and are often fearful for their safety.   So, while the announcement of a ‘top cop’ policing lead for VAWG is welcome as a first step, we remain sceptical about whether this will actually translate into an increase in protection for the women who need it. At the very least, this post should be accompanied by VAWG becoming a national strategic priority, to ensure the police are held accountable. We have also welcomed amendments to the pre-charge bail system, reversing changes made in 2017 which resulted in a huge drop in the use of bail, meaning perpetrators of domestic abuse were free to continue the abuse with no legal limits whatsoever. Yet too often the criminal justice system focuses on survivors’ ‘credibility’ when they report domestic abuse, rather than on investigating and prosecuting perpetrators. Refuge calls for wholesale reform across the criminal justice system, which must include a significant investment in cultural change within the police and other criminal justice agencies  to ensure women are better protected and able to access the justice and support they need.   Leading the way internationally?  Next year also marks a decade since the UK signed the Istanbul Convention, yet disappointingly the government has failed to ratify it, despite the repeatedly stating their ambition to ‘drive forward a strong agenda on women’s rights, both domestically and internationally’. We must hold the government to its commitment to ratify the convention in the strategy - and urge them to do so as soon as possible. Central to this ratification process is ensuring that migrant women, so often locked out of accessing specialist support, have equality of access to protection. Insecure immigration status should never be a barrier to accessing support and safety, but the government has continued to fail to ensure all women in this country can access safety and support. The government needs to extend equal protection to migrant women as part of ratifying Istanbul.  As the largest specialist provider of services for survivors of domestic abuse in the country, it is incumbent on Refuge to work positively to identify where policies fall short, but also to be on hand to help improve them, to ensure future legislation is well informed, has input from survivors, and that it really puts an emphasis on delivery, rather than on rhetoric. We are disappointed with the missed opportunities in the VAWG strategy, and urge the government to demonstrate its commitment to ending violence against women and girls in forthcoming legislation. The Online Safety Bill, the Domestic Abuse strategy, the implementation of both the VAWG strategy and the Domestic Abuse Act should serve as real tests of intention. The government has a chance to make history - we hope they take it and will encourage them to do so at every turn.   For all media/communications queries, please contact press@refuge.org.uk.

Refuge statement on Joey Barton’s court appearance
Refuge statement on Joey Barton’s court appearance

In response to the statement by Bristol Rovers Football Club last night, which was released following media coverage of manager Joey Barton’s court appearance, Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive said: ‘One in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime and 2 women a week across England and Wales are killed by a current or former partner. Bristol Rovers average attendance pre covid was 8,320. If that was compromised entirely of women, at least 2,080 would have experienced domestic abuse at an average game. A tactic often used by perpetrators of abuse is to tell women that no one will believe them. I would challenge Bristol Rovers to consider whether their use of the term ‘victimless crime’ will dispel or exacerbate that notion. If we want to seriously challenge attitudes towards violence against women and girls then we must work to challenge male attitudes, which are propped up by misogyny and patriarchy. At a time when violence against women and girls has never been higher on the public or political agenda, and conviction rates at a shockingly low level, we expect better. There is clearly a lot of work to do. Words are important and should be chosen carefully. If you are experiencing abuse and need support, refuge is here for you. You can call us free on 0808 2000 247, 24 hours a day or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org. You are not alone. Refuge will listen to you, we will hear you, and we will believe you. We know there will be many Rovers fans, men and women, who will be deeply troubled by the clubs statement. We thank every single one of you who is helping to raise this issue and challenge the language used.' ENDS About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Refuge responds to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) quarterly data summary
Refuge responds to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) quarterly data summary

In response to the quarterly data summary, issued on 22nd July, Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: "The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) statistics report draws into sharp focus the problems with the criminal justice system and the challenges women face when reporting domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. While Refuge is pleased to see that the courts have increased the number of hearings they hold as they attempt to deal with the backlog to the pandemic, it is not yet meeting need, and it is vital that these delays are addressed with speed. That will require sustained, increased funding to enable the courts to continue to tackle the backlog and high caseloads. Despite ongoing recovery form the pandemic, the CPS statistics on domestic abuse for this quarter (1st January to 31st March 2021) show a disappointing drop in completed prosecutions, falling by 6.7% from the previous quarter (1st October to 31st December 2020.) Convictions for domestic abuse offences similarly have been on a downward trend with a drop of 6.6% over the same period. The data also shows the unacceptable length of time it takes to charge rape cases with an average 145.9 day - almost five month - wait from cases first being submitted by the police, to the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision to charge. The average time to charge in domestic abuse cases has also risen by 22% in the last year. Women are left in limbo and are often fearful for their safety. Refuge calls for survivors of domestic abuse and rape to have swift access to justice - delays in charging decisions and to trials put survivors at risk, can compound trauma, and increase the chances of women dropping out of the criminal justice process. Prosecutions for rape also continue to be extremely low, and whilst we welcome the government’s apology for systemic failings on rape in the recent End-to-End Rape Review, we fear the review will do very little to change the experiences of victims here and now. Refuge continues to demand wholesale reform of the criminal justice system to ensure better outcomes for survivors." Kelly* is a domestic abuse survivor and a training barrister who knows first-hand about the traumatic wait from CPS: “As a training barrister, I know how important it is for women to have access to justice. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know first hand how the system can fail women. I have been waiting for a decision from the CPS for more than a year and a half, after reporting rape, ABH and coercive control by my ex-partner. To date, I have still not received a charging decision. To date, the system has failed me. I'm trying to take care of myself and remain strong - but it can be exhausting and upsetting, not knowing what is happening with my case. Every time I try to access information about my case, the CPS say, “it’s with the police”; the police say, “it’s with the CPS” and I am unable to get answers. Neither seems to be taking any responsibility for these delays, instead simply blaming each other. The system needs to work for women, and I am both frustrated and dismayed by what I consider to be a failure in my case.” ENDS Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit refugetechsafety.org.

Refuge welcomes new trustees and committee members
Refuge welcomes new trustees and committee members

Refuge welcomes two new trustees to its board of trustees and three independent sub-committee members as the charity’s governance goes from strength to strength This month Refuge welcomes two new trustees, James Watson-O’Neill and Jon Rowney, to its board of trustees. James and Jon join eight other trustees and chair who oversee the charity’s work, delivered by CEO Ruth Davison. Jon and James will be pivotal to the development of Refuge’s new five year strategy; selected as a result of their professional expertise and experience and their commitment to Refuge’s values. Refuge’s current board of trustees, led by Chair Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, provide governance oversight and leadership on the future direction of Refuge. Hetti Barworth-Nanton said: ‘The introduction of new Trustees to our Board and independent committee members is part of our ongoing journey to increase the diversity and experiences across Refuge, including our Board. James and Jon join Refuge at an important time. Not only are we strengthening our governance structures, but also undertaking a strategic review to inform the development of a new five year strategy. The skills, experience and passion Jon and James bring to Refuge will hold us in good stead as we move forward. ‘James, a leader in disability rights and developing services for adults and services, is chief executive of the Deaf health charity SignHealth and has worked in the charity sector since 2001. It was James’ experience in equality, diversity and inclusion, alongside his commitment to justice and his clear alignment with Refuge’s feminist values, which made him the perfect candidate for this role.’ Said Barkworth-Nanton. ‘Our second appointment, Jon, is executive director of corporate services for the London Borough of Camden. His wealth of housing, welfare and social care experience adds specialist expertise to Refuge’s board. Jon joins as Treasurer to Refuge, and not only brings his financial acumen to the organisation, but also a deep commitment to the work Refuge does and its commitment end domestic abuse and all violence against women and girls. ‘This is an exciting year for Refuge – in November the organisation turns 50 and as we approach our sixth decade of running life-saving and life-changing services for women and children across the country these appointments will make Refuge more robust for the future. We are thrilled to welcome James and Jon.’ Alongside the two trustee appointments Refuge’s board has appointed three independent committee members. Barkworth-Nanton said ‘Vanessa, Leon, and Rachael each bring unique and brilliant experience and perspectives to our work and I am really excited to see the contribution they will bring’. - Vanessa Sanyauke will join the People, Remuneration and Nominations Committee - Leon Ward will join the Safeguarding Committee - Rachael Crook will join the Services Committee Notes to editors James Watson-O’Neill is Chief Executive of the Deaf health charity SignHealth which provides a range of services, including the only specialist domestic abuse service for Deaf women delivered by Deaf women, directly in British Sign Language. James has worked in the charity sector since 2001, including a variety of roles at Scope and the NSPCC and has significant experience in leading operational services at a strategic level, including a wide range of residential and educational services for adults and children. James is a trustee of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group; a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce; and a Leadership Fellow at the Society of Leadership Fellows at the College of St George at Windsor Castle. Jon Rowney is the Executive Director Corporate Services in the London Borough of Camden. Jon has over twenty years experience working in local government across a range of social policy areas including housing, education, welfare and health and social care. Jon previously worked in London Councils, working with all London Boroughs, the Mayor of London, the GLA and central government on how London government could become more independent and shape services for benefit of its residents and communities. Leon Ward is the Programme Innovations Director at the national education charity Future First. His background is in youth social action and education and so brings a deep understanding of working with children and young people safely. His career has largely been launching and growing charities in Wales; having done this for three national organisations over the last 6 years. Alongside his executive career, Leon is an experienced trustee having served on the boards of Plan UK, Interact Worldwide, Leap Confronting Conflict and Brook Young People, where he is Deputy Chair. He's also a member of the organisational development committee at The Children's Society. Leon was also one of the founding members of the Young Trustees Movement and has published several best practices guides around diversifying trustee boards. Rachael Crook is the CEO and Co-founder of Lifted, an innovative start up on a mission to fix the care crisis by revolutionising home care. In just over two years, Rachael has grown Lifted to employ more than 100 people, deliver over 50,000 hours of care while retaining exclusively 5 star reviews, and raised over £8 Million in investment. Prior to Co-founding Lifted, Rachael was a consultant with McKinsey and Consultant where she advised FTSE 100 businesses and charities on business strategy and operations. Previously to this Rachael was a Senior Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Implementation Unit advising Cabinet Ministers on how to meet the Government’s highest priority commitments. As a Civil Servant, she set up and led a programme of 17 projects to protect women from female genital mutilation and forced marriage. She led the development of the UK Faith leaders; declaration against FGM, signed by every major faith in the UK. Rachael holds a BA (Hons) First Class from University of Warwick and an MPhil from the University of Oxford. Rachael is also a volunteer on the National Domestic Violence Helpline run by Refuge which inspired her desire to get more deeply involved. Vanessa Sanyauke is a multi award-winning and globally recognised diversity and inclusion leader and social entrepreneur as the Founder of Girls Talk London, a global community that connects women with global businesses via programmes, events and digital content. Vanessa has 14 years of experience in diversity, inclusion, responsible business and sustainability working in the financial services, technology and government. Her expertise is in creating and executing global diversity, inclusion and sustainability strategies and programmes. She was listed as #15 in the Financial Times, Yahoo Finance and EMpower top ethnic minority future leaders in Europe, U.S and Canada. Recognised as one of 30 people changing the world by the London Business School and one of London's most influential people by the Evening Standard Newspaper. Recognised as a thought leader in Diversity, Equality and Inclusion by Sir Richard Branson and Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and in The Guardian, Cosmopolitan magazine, Sunday Times Style magazine, Stylist magazine, The Evening Standard newspaper, Yahoo Finance, Financial Times, London Business School Review and Data Economy magazine. ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge responds to Online Safety Bill committee appointment
Refuge responds to Online Safety Bill committee appointment

Ruth Davison Refuge CEO said: “With online abuse becoming increasingly common, and voices from all sectors of society urging action, Refuge welcomes the appointment of this joint committee to scrutinise the draft Online Safety Bill. This is an important next step in ensuring we address the harm being caused to domestic abuse survivors, which is ever more commonly being perpetrated online. At Refuge we know that online platforms are commonly weaponised by perpetrators of domestic abuse and cases of tech abuse are ever present across our frontline services. The Online Safety Bill presents an opportunity to meaningfully address online violence against women and girls, and it is vital the Bill secures basic protections for survivors of tech abuse. Refuge looks forward to working with the government and the committee to ensure that the Bill is as transformative for women and girls as it has the potential to be.” ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge responds to HMICFRS interim report on police engagement with women and girls
Refuge responds to HMICFRS interim report on police engagement with women and girls

In response to the HMICFRS interim report on the inspection into police engagement with women and girls, Ruth Davison Refuge CEO said: ‘Refuge welcomes this interim report into police engagement with women and girls. We echo the HMICFRS’ call for urgent strategies to address the significant failings in the current police response to women experiencing domestic abuse and other forms of male violence. With a domestic abuse call to the police every thirty seconds, (yet only around 20% of people experiencing domestic abuse ever report to the police), this should be a priority issue. Yet time and again Refuge sees reviews which fail to deliver the radical progress we so urgently need to see. Recent findings from the Victim’s Commissioner’s survey of rape complainants, for example, found that only 14% of survivors felt reporting to the police would help them to get justice. Additionally, police perpetrators of domestic abuse are a third less likely to be convicted than the general public. What sort of message does this send to women who are experiencing domestic abuse? Refuge is concerned that a culture of misogyny runs through the police, unchecked. As the first and last bastion of support, it is incumbent on the police to change.  As things stand, year after year the police continue to fail women. Today’s report, however, offers the opportunity both for a step change in the response from the police, but also to inform the government’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and Domestic Abuse (DA) strategies, as well as the Victims Bill. Refuge urges the government to seize the recommendations in this report and prioritise, alongside urgent police reform, the following issues to: -Provide tailored, consistent support to survivors from Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs), Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs)and other specialist services which make a crucial difference to women being able to access justice. -Commit and prioritise ring-fenced, long-term, sustainable funding for the full range of specialist support services. -Support HMICFRS’ wider call for a ‘whole system approach’ to violence against women and girls. We believe this would be best implemented by introducing a statutory duty o all government departments and public bodies to engage with specialist organisations to better support survivors in all their diversity ensuring the voices of migrant women, black and other racially minoritised women, deaf and disabled women as well as LGBT+ survivors voices are represented. -Ensure that police receive rigorous gender-informed and trauma-informed training when responding to incidents of domestic abuse to ensure that women are not re-traumatised when they seek help. Too often, women who report abuse to the police find themselves unfairly detained and questioned over malicious allegations of counter abuse. Refuge looks forward to working with HMICFRS ahead of the final report being published in September and welcomes the opportunity to comment on this interim report.  We stand ready to work with government to ensure that the proposed Victims Bill reflects the findings from the HMICFRS final report by placing the rights of survivors going through the criminal justice system on a statutory footing, and that the findings of the report help inform the VAWG and DA strategies. Refuge hopes this report will start to put in place the change, and action, that is needed – the change that is called for year after year and the action that remains woefully overdue.’ ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge statement on Policing Bill debate
Refuge statement on Policing Bill debate

Refuge and campaigner Erica Osakwe respond to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill debate. Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge said: ‘We are grateful to Yvette Cooper for today raising the issue of common assault perpetrated in domestic abuse contexts and the 'timing out' of access to justice for so many women who are unsafe or unable to report the incident to police immediately. Women like Erica Osakwe, who launched 'victims too' last year, after reporting her abuse to the police, only to have her case closed almost as soon as it was opened. Women like Erica deserve so much more, and Refuge is grateful to Victoria Atkins for acknowledging the need for action and committing to look into solutions. Refuge stands ready to support any and all efforts to better protect women and girls experiencing domestic abuse.' Erica Osakwe, survivor and organiser of Victims Too said: 'When I started this petition in October last year, I hoped to secure a parliamentary debate. Today, I sat at home and heard Yvette Cooper raise this issue as part of the policing bill, and I couldn't be happier. Thank you, Yvette, for listening to women like me and acting, Thank you also to Refuge, Women's Aid and the Centre for Women's Justice for helping amplify my campaign and push for change. Together, we are stronger. Thank you to Victoria Atkins for listening to the need for change. Women like me deserve better.' ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge also has a Tech Safety Tool.

Refuge statement on SafeLives report
Refuge statement on SafeLives report

Refuge responds to the Report 'Understanding Court Support For Victims Of Domestic Abuse' commissioned by Nicole Jacobs and carried out by SafeLives.   Ruth Davison, Refuge CEO said: 'It is disappointing but not surprising to find the vast majority of domestic abuse survivors are not receiving the specialist support they need in the court system and are finding the court process traumatic. The report published today by SafeLives and commissioned by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner shows that 89% of domestic abuse victims didn’t get any support through the family courts. Specialist domestic abuse services have been decimated by funding cuts over the past decade, leaving many women stranded without recourse to the support they need to access justice and protection. This situation has been compounded by the pandemic, which has caused severe court delays and backlogs which we know have been growing by around 1,000 cases a month leaving many survivors in limbo, unable to progress with their lives and fearing for their own and their children’s safety. Refuge’s experiences chime with the findings from this report - we hear too often that the courts, and in particular the family courts, are failing to offer appropriate support to survivors and that court professionals often do not understand domestic abuse. We know that when survivors are accompanied in the criminal justice system by specialist trained Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors (IDVAs) they feel more supported and in control and are much less likely to withdraw from the court process. For women who have had control taken away from their lives due to domestic abuse, feeling unsupported, unheard and misrepresented in the court system is disempowering and re-traumatising. Specialist support can make all the difference – it is life-changing support which needs to be properly funded and offered to all survivors. Refuge supports calls for a sustainable long-term funding model, rather than ad-hoc, short-term funding pots to ensure the full range of services including IDVA support are available to survivors going through the traumatic family and criminal justice system. The upcoming Violence Against Women and Girls strategy and Victims Bill provides a critical opportunity for the government to ensure all survivors receive the support they need. For domestic abuse survivors, the court process is an extremely stressful and isolating time and providing specialist support within the court system is vital in ensuring women feel confident in the court process and are empowered to access justice and protection. Refuge is also calling for urgent action to manage case backlogs including opening more courts and ensuring that funding is provided to enable existing courts to operate at maximum capacity beyond this year, so that survivors receive the justice they deserve ENDS For more information contact press@refuge.org.uk. About Refuge: Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.