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

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

Press releases

25% increase in calls to National Domestic Abuse Helpline since lockdown measures began
25% increase in calls to National Domestic Abuse Helpline since lockdown measures began

Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity says calls to its Helpline have risen by 25% since lockdown measures began. Isolation has potential to aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive partners but isn’t reason for abusive behaviour. As the UK enters the third week of lockdown measures, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘Since the UK lockdown measures were announced, Refuge has worked round the clock to ensure its life-saving services remain open and accessible to any woman who needs them. Prior to the lockdown measures being introduced, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge, logged on average 270 calls and contacts per day. During the week commencing 30 March, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline increased by an average of 25%, while hits to the national domestic abuse website www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk increased by 150% during the initial stages of Covid-19 lockdown. Ordinarily, the window for women to seek help is extremely limited. During periods of isolation with their perpetrators, this window narrows further. It is critical that women have alternative, digital ways of accessing help. Refuge wants every woman who needs support to know where and how to access it. If it is too difficult to make a call, women can also access support online, filling in a web form, indicating a safe and secure time to be contacted. Isolation is often used as a tool to abuse – and while the current lockdown has the potential to exacerbate abuse - it is not the reason for it. Domestic abuse is a crime and is ultimately rooted in power and control. Violence is a choice a man makes. He alone is responsible for it. Women experiencing domestic abuse are not alone. Refuge is here to support women today, tomorrow, and in the future. I urge any woman who needs help to contact us, and to know that there is support available”. Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge and Chelsea FC join up to raise awareness of domestic abuse
Refuge and Chelsea FC join up to raise awareness of domestic abuse

Refuge and Chelsea FC join up to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Chelsea to gift match donations to national domestic abuse charity Refuge, in outstanding gesture of support. Refuge is delighted to have teamed up with Chelsea FC to raise awareness and much needed funds to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Last year 1.6 million women in the UK suffered from domestic abuse. Reports from around the world show that the Covid-19 global pandemic has led to an increase in domestic abuse incidents during periods of isolation and lock down. Experts are warning that the coronavirus outbreak will lead to a "domestic abuse pandemic”. Self-isolation has the potential to aggravate pre-existing abusive behaviours by perpetrators and can make it more challenging for women to report and seek support. The window for women to seek help ordinarily is extremely limited. The current periods of isolation mean that window is reduced yet more. Refuge wants women to know they are not alone and can still access its support, via its specialist services that run across the country, by telephone and digitally. To support Refuge’s life-changing and life-saving work and help raise awareness and funds, Chelsea FC Women’s manager Emma Hayes along with players from the women’s and men’s team have taken part in a digital campaign to ensure those in need of support know they are not alone. The campaign will also raise funds for Refuge, with Chelsea promising to match all donations received in the next six-week period. Hayes said: “I am proud to lead the club’s support of this worthy cause during such a difficult time for so many. There are many things for people to deal with in the present climate but it is important we support the vulnerable and those who may feel alone or without a voice. I hope this campaign can do that and make a difference to those who need support.” Men’s captain Cesar Azpilicueta added: ‘‘Domestic violence is such a serious issue in society and we must double our efforts to look after those in danger during this ongoing pandemic. I am so proud of my club for supporting Refuge in its vital work protecting vulnerable women and children.” Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge said: “Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country. Almost one in three women aged between 16-59 experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes in the UK and two women are killed in England and Wales every week by a current or former partner. This is a life and death issue. Now, more than ever, Refuge needs to reach women and their children who are in need of its services. We want women across the country today to know that Refuge is there to support them around the clock - they are not alone. Thanks to Chelsea FC and its supporters we hope to raise much needed funds and reach many more women experiencing abuse. Together we can save and change lives.” Refuge provides a national network of specialist services which support around 6,500 women and children every day, including emergency accommodation, community outreach, independent domestic violence advocacy (IDVAs), culturally specific services and a team of child support workers. Refuge also runs the Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, 0808 2000 247, which currently logs over 270 calls and contacts every day. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides additional support information and an online form where women can request a safe time to be called back. This online method of accessing support is especially important now when telephoning for help may be more difficult. Women can also receive automated guidance via Refuge’s techbot on how to secure their devices. To donate to the campaign please click donate.refuge.org.uk/Chelsea. Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge responds to video posted by Billy Joe Saunders
Refuge responds to video posted by Billy Joe Saunders

In response to the video posted by Billy Joe Saunders, which appeared online over the weekend, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘Videos like this reinforce what we already know: society’s attitude towards domestic violence simply has to change. Sharing content like this is as dangerous as it is shocking and we should call it out for what it is. Unacceptable. Almost one in three women aged 16-59 in England and Wales will experience domestic abuse at some point in her lifetime. Domestic abuse is never a joke. It should never be trivialised. Doing so serves only to normalise violence against women and girls when instead we should be steadfastly challenging it. What sort of message does this video send to survivors of domestic abuse? That their experiences are not valid? That the abuse they experienced is trivial? That their experience is appropriate material for online jokes? Across England and Wales 2 women every week are killed by a current of former partner. This statistic should horrify us all, and should mean any attempts to trivialise domestic abuse are met with resistance and shame. Right now, across the country, women are isolated at home with abusive partners. Any woman who is afraid of their partner can call the national domestic abuse helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. If you are unable to call, you can fill in our webform at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk and let us know a safe time to contact you. Refuge is there for you, and you are not alone. Help and support is available’ For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge responds to reports of potential increase in domestic abuse during COVID-19
Refuge responds to reports of potential increase in domestic abuse during COVID-19

Refuge responds to reports of potential increase in domestic abuse during periods of lockdown and issues survivors guide. In response to reports about potential increase in domestic abuse across the country during periods of isolation, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of National Domestic Abuse charity Refuge said: "Refuge is concerned about the potential for incidents of domestic abuse to increase during periods of lockdown. We know that ordinarily the window of opportunity for women with abusive partners to make a call and seek help is often very limited. Now, it is likely that window has become even smaller. With this in mind, we have today issued an online guide for survivors. Refuge has undertaken a huge technology operation over the past eight days to move the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, ordinarily run from a cyber secure office environment, to remote locations. We have achieved this through much hard work and our expert team has been able to continue its life-saving work whilst adhering to the COVID-19 restrictions on movement. We want to reassure women that our Helpline is continuing to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that it is free, and confidential. Domestic abuse is much more than physical violence and we want all women who are experiencing any form of abuse - whether that is physical, technological, economic, sexual, or coercive control - to know we are here. Our message is simple: help exists, you are not alone. Any woman experiencing abuse should call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. If you are unable to call, then you can visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk and fill in an online form, requesting a safe time to be called back. This online method of accessing support is especially important now when telephoning for help may be more difficult. Women can also receive automated guidance via our chatbot on how to secure their devices https://www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/our-services/tech-abuse-empowerment-service/. In an emergency, call 999. If you are worried about a neighbour, friend or relative please make sure they know the number for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge. Our life-saving service is here 24 hours a day 7 days a week and is entirely free to access” Refuge has a guide for survivors, which is online here. Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk

Refuge responds to COVID-19
Refuge responds to COVID-19

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of National Domestic Abuse charity Refuge said: ‘1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse last year, and self-isolation has the potential to aggravate pre-existing abusive behaviours by perpetrators. ‘While in lockdown or self-isolation, women and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom. ‘Domestic abuse isn’t always physical – it’s a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, which can also be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual. Abuse is a choice a perpetrator makes, and isolation is already used by many perpetrators as a tool of control. ‘In the current climate, it is certainly more challenging for women suffering abuse. Lines of communication could be severely limited if women are unable to leave the home. ‘Refuge wants to reassure those experiencing abuse that they are not alone. Our services remain open and we have contingency plans in place for all of our services, including refuges, community-based services and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge. ‘The Freephone Helpline is operating 24/7, with confidential, non-judgmental support available from our team of trained female advisers. While it might not be safe for a woman to call the Helpline with the perpetrator still in the home, the Helpline also has an online contact form, with additional support resources available for survivors, friends and family. Women can request a safe time to be called. ‘Women’s lives depend on being able to keep our services running and we are doing everything we can to keep them open. If you are worried about a loved one, or about isolating with a perpetrator, please call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or contact the Helpline via Refuge’s contact form at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk. To ensure your safety you can let us know how to contact you and what time to contact you. In an emergency, always be ready to call 999 if you are in danger. For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to the Spring Budget
Refuge responds to the Spring Budget

In response to today’s budget announcement, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “Refuge is disappointed that despite announcing significant increases in Government spending in today’s budget, there were no announcements on funding for domestic abuse specialist services. Austerity cuts have decimated domestic abuse services – with Refuge seeing more than 80% of its services experiencing cuts in real terms. We welcome the commitment to funding for rape survivors and trialling the use of domestic abuse courts. However, the Government needs to fund a full suite of services with specialist services at its core, not adopt a piecemeal approach. The funding made available is simply a drop in the ocean compared to the funds needed. It is in everyone’s interest to adopt a three pronged approach - provision, prevention and protection. Only by doing this can we hope to end violence against women and girls. The Government has committed to creating a legal duty to provide refuge accommodation in the Domestic Abuse Bill - but this legislative change will only make a real difference to the more than 6,500 survivors Refuge supports on any given day if it is met with the funding needed to provide more emergency refuge spaces. Women’s lives depend on this and we are disappointed that today’s budget failed to allocate funding to domestic abuse services. We have seen today that the Government is willing to spend money where it is needed - finding 500 million pounds to fund pothole repairs, but remaining silent on refuge funding. It is a glaring omission not to extend the ‘get things done’ approach to funding domestic abuse services to save women’s lives. It is estimated that the funding needed for refuges is 173 million pounds annually - around a third of the money allocated for pothole repairs. With nearly one in three women aged 16-59 experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime, and two women every week across England and Wales killed by a former or current partner, we need to see real commitments to creating long term change. This can only happen by putting forward ring-fenced cash to support women and children escaping domestic abuse. The Chancellor has today committed to launch a new spending review, to conclude in July. We hope that this review, and the upcoming second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill will be an opportunity for the Government to make the commitments that are missing today and so desperately needed, to ensure that no woman or child fleeing abuse is ever turned away from accessing the support they need. We look forward to working with the Government to implement its commitment to transforming the response to domestic abuse. Women’s lives depend on it and this opportunity must not be lost." For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge joins the Duchess of Cornwall’s call
Refuge joins the Duchess of Cornwall’s call

Refuge joins the Duchess of Cornwall’s call for domestic abuse to be recognised as #EveryonesProblem Domestic abuse is the biggest issue facing women and children in the country today – almost one in three women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime The Duchess of Cornwall shines a spotlight on this insidious issue giving a keynote speech about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on hundreds of thousands of women’s lives Duchess of Cornwall shares her first ever hashtag #EveryonesProblem @ClarenceHouse Today, as celebrations begin ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday, the Duchess of Cornwall will give a speech to mark the tenth anniversary of the Women of the World Festival. Her Royal Highness will use the keynote speech to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in the country today. It is staggering to learn that almost one woman in three will experience domestic abuse at some time in her life – a figure which has recently increased from one in four women. In her address the Duchess of Cornwall will use her very first hashtag #EveryonesProblem via the @ClarenceHouse twitter feed. The Duchess of Cornwall is expected to speak about the threat of coercive control, and that she finds it almost impossible to think that any friend of (hers) might be living under that horrific threat, without knowing it, but that is the power of coercive control and violence in the home. (check against speech). Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge says: “Refuge is delighted that Her Royal Highness has chosen to raise awareness of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is a life and death issue – two women are killed every week in England and Wales alone. We all know someone who has or is experiencing domestic abuse – although we may not realise it. Domestic abuse affects us all – loved ones experiencing abuse, family, friends, colleagues, everyone around them. We applaud the Duchess of Cornwall’s #EveryonesProblem hashtag – domestic abuse is not an individual problem but a societal problem. Refuge hopes that today we can bring this issue from the shadows and into the light – women’s lives depend on it.” The Duchess of Cornwall’s speech comes just after the Government reintroduced the Domestic Abuse Bill on Tuesday 3 March and ahead of International Women’s Day 8 March 2020. Refuge hopes that #EveryonesProblem will be shared and retweeted far and wide from 10.45am Friday 6 March 2020. Refuge is urging women affected by domestic abuse to contact the Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge response to reintroduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill
Refuge response to reintroduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill

In response to the the reintroduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “Refuge welcomes the re-introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which is significantly enhanced by the addition of a legal duty on local authorities to provide refuge accommodation. “This Bill offers the government a real opportunity to transform the response to domestic abuse in this country, but key to its success will be meeting this duty with adequate funding, so that no woman or child is ever turned away when seeking safety. “Refuge will continue to work with the government to strengthen the Bill as it progresses into law, and to ensure it best protects the survivors whose very lives depend on it.” For more information contact the Refuge press team on 0207 395 7731. About Refuge: Refuge is a frontline service provider. It runs specialist domestic violence services across the country and opened the world’s first refuge in 1971. On any given day, it supports more than 6,500 women and children escaping all forms of violence against women and girls.

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

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

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

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