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Contact the Refuge press team on:

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

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Working with survivors

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

Press releases

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

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

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

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

Refuge responds to Queens Speech
Refuge responds to Queens Speech

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

Refuge responds to CPS Inspectorate review
Refuge responds to CPS Inspectorate review

In response to the CPS Inspectorate review today, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of National Domestic Abuse charity Refuge said: Today’s report is truly shocking and is yet more evidence of the criminal justice system failing to protect women. What kind of message does the poor rate of prosecutions send to survivors of sexual assault? That they are not credible, that their experiences are not valid? That there is no point in reporting and going through the painful and traumatic experience of seeking justice against rapists? Women need to have confidence that they will be protected. Furthermore there needs to be a thorough investigation into why so few cases are being successfully prosecuted and urgent action taken to redress systemic failures. For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to 2019 General Election result
Refuge responds to 2019 General Election result

“We are pleased that the Domestic Abuse Bill remains firmly on the Governments agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session. This is testament to the hard work of many across the sector and to the many survivors of domestic abuse who have been willing to talk about the horrific abuse they have experienced, in anticipation of helping to secure change.

Refuge responds to Queens Speech and Domestic Abuse
Refuge responds to Queens Speech and Domestic Abuse

“We are pleased that the Domestic Abuse Bill remains firmly on the Governments agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session. This is testament to the hard work of many across the sector and to the many survivors of domestic abuse who have been willing to talk about the horrific abuse they have experienced, in anticipation of helping to secure change.

Response to the release of the ONS annual domestic abuse statistics
Response to the release of the ONS annual domestic abuse statistics

London 25 November 2019: Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, responds to the release of the ONS annual domestic abuse statistics. In response to the release of the ONS annual domestic abuse statistics, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of the national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: These statistics should serve as a serious wake-up call to the future Government that domestic abuse is a major crime in this country and must be top of the political agenda. ‘It is clear that the likelihood of women and girls experiencing domestic abuse at some point in their lives is increasing. This is devastating news given this time last year we knew 1 in 4 women would experience domestic abuse – this figure is edging towards 1 in 3. Alarmingly, incidents of domestic sexual assault are also increasing. This rise is set against a backdrop of lower conviction rates. These statistics are a national travesty. ‘The only way to address violence against women and girls is to prioritise legislation which gives domestic abuse national attention, works to reduce the numbers whilst increasing funding and the number of specialist services to which women can turn to for support. Refuge calls on the future Government to bring the Domestic Abuse Bill back to parliament, and to work towards its swift passage into law. Women’s lives depend on it.’ For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Response to media coverage of Grace Millane's death
Response to media coverage of Grace Millane's death

Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, responds to media coverage of Grace Millane's death. In response to the ongoing press coverage concerning Grace Millane's death, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of the national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: 'Refuge is shocked and saddened by the recent coverage of the murder trial of Grace Millane. It is reckless and irresponsible to frame her death as anything other than the result of grievous violence, perpetrated by a sexual partner. Her sexual preferences are irrelevant and need to be removed from any discussion surrounding the circumstances of her death. Of course, Grace cannot challenge or rebut the assertions being made about her, as the man making them has taken her life. "The narrative being pursued serves only to normalise violence against women and girls, instead of addressing and challenging it. What message is this sending young women – that sexual violence is their fault? That their sexual history will be used against them? That they might be told they were asking for it? "Whilst this trial took place in New Zealand, we have seen several similar cases in England and Wales this year. The law clearly needs to change. Refuge is calling for the next Government to put an end to the ‘rough sex’ defence and ensure that no woman is ever blamed for her killer’s actions. Only then will the rest of society begin to see sexual violence and murder for what it is – an unacceptable crime for which there is no excuse." For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to Queens Speech and Domestic Abuse
Refuge responds to Queens Speech and Domestic Abuse

“We are pleased that the Domestic Abuse Bill remains firmly on the Governments agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session. This is testament to the hard work of many across the sector and to the many survivors of domestic abuse who have been willing to talk about the horrific abuse they have experienced, in anticipation of helping to secure change.

Refuge response to Domestic Abuse Bill second reading
Refuge response to Domestic Abuse Bill second reading

In response to the second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill today, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national Domestic Abuse charity Refuge said: “Refuge is pleased that Robert Buckland presented the Domestic Abuse Bill for its second reading in Parliament today. This Bill is many years in the making and the product of incredibly hard work across the sector. The Bill has the potential to transform the response to domestic abuse -  but to be effective, Refuge hopes to work with Government to make sure the Bill goes further. Statutory funding for refuges is essential. Women must be able to flee their violent partners and find safety. The Bill must ensure that domestic abuse survivors are in priority need for housing, and must end the ‘postcode lottery’ of support so everyone, regardless of their immigration status, is able to reach safety and access the help they need. Refuge supports more than 6,500 women on any given day. Two women every week across England and Wales are killed by their former or current partner. We are hopeful that Government will cement its commitment to addressing violence against women and girls by making sure this Bill becomes law with minimal delay. “ Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.