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Press releases

Refuge sees online traffic to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline website rise by 700%.
Refuge sees online traffic to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline website rise by 700%.

Following a media push to ensure women experiencing domestic abuse know how they can access help and support during periods of lockdown, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “We have today reviewed the statistics for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline website, run by Refuge. Traffic to this website, designed by survivors for survivors and which contains valuable information for women on how they can access life-saving support rose by 700% on Monday compared with the previous day. In fact the website visits on Monday alone were greater than the combined number for the previous five days. The website, a critical function of Refuge’s Helpline also contains a webform in which survivors can request a safe time to be contacted. What this shows us is, as we anticipated, women under lockdown who are experiencing domestic abuse are finding the window in which to call us - already ordinarily very limited - has further reduced, and are seeking support online. Whilst we have also seen calls and contacts to our National Domestic Abuse Helpline sharply rise, the spike in visits to ‪‪nationaldahelpline.org.uk have been phenomenal and shows us that women are turning to Refuge’s digital tools and resources as a way to get in contact with us and access critical information. We hope that around the country women will be reassured to know that even during these unprecedented times, Refuge is there for them. With one in three women across England and Wales between 16-59 experiencing domestic abuse at some point in there lives, it’s never been more important to know the National Domestic Abuse Helpline details - ‪0808 2000 247 / ‪http://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/. Please share these details as widely as you can. Women’s lives depend on it.” Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk.

Refuge sees calls and contacts to  National Domestic Abuse Helpline rise by 120% overnight.
Refuge sees calls and contacts to National Domestic Abuse Helpline rise by 120% overnight.

Refuge, the UKs largest domestic abuse charity, sees calls and contacts to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline rise by 120% overnight. Following significant media coverage of Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, calls and contacts logged on the 06th April were up by 120% compared to the previous day. While this dramatic increase shows that more women are asking for support during lockdown it is important to recognise that lockdown itself is not a cause of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is rooted in power and control and stems from gender inequality. It does not occur by appointment – it happens all year round. We know that abusers systematically isolate their wives and partners. During lockdown this may be exacerbated with abusers using isolation as a tool of abuse. The increase in calls and contacts to the helpline demonstrates why, more than ever, women need access to immediate help and support. However, Refuge’s concerns remain that women may find it more challenging to call for help during periods of protracted isolation. The true number of women experiencing domestic abuse is likely to be much higher and is why Refuge has also developed an online webform which women can use to access support if they are unable to call. This webform allows women to specify a safe time in which they can be contacted. Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said: ‘On Monday, Refuge released the first set of statistics which indicated an average increase in calls and contacts to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline of 25% since the UK entered lockdown measures. After significant media coverage directing women to Refuge’s Helpline, our statistics show that the number of calls we logged increased by 120%. This is an enormous increase which underscores what we already know - domestic abuse is a scourge on society and must be addressed. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Domestic abuse is a crime and it must be addressed. We know that some forms of abuse are not as widely recognised as others. Domestic abuse is not just physical violence - it can be misuse of technology, economic abuse and coercive control. We hope that women seeing our public communications will feel reassured and supported and recognise that what they are experiencing is against the law and not acceptable. Women are not alone and Refuge is here to provide support. Domestic abuse is a crime, and it is a choice a man makes. Only he is responsible for changing his violent behaviour. We extend our thanks to media outlets who have diligently helped Refuge to make sure as many women as possible know the number for its National Domestic Abuse Helpline. 0808 2000 247 can save lives and we want every woman across the country to know that Refuge is providing round the clock support” Natasha Saunders, a domestic abuse survivor who accessed the Helpline said: “Living with my ex was like being inside a prison. He raped me repeatedly and he tried to control every aspect of my life. I can’t imagine being in this lockdown with him. Home was not a safe place for me - and it’s not a safe place for thousands of women living with abusive partners. I understand the panic, fear and claustrophobia these women must be feeling at the moment, but help and support is out there. With the support of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, I was able to leave my ex-husband and start a new life with my family. The female adviser on the phone reminded me that I wasn’t alone. She validated my concerns and the abuse I was experiencing. She gave me the courage to phone the police and ultimately saved my life. If you’re living with abuse during this pandemic, please know that you are not alone. The Helpline is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All you need to do is call.” If you need support, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, any time of day. At the start of lockdown procedures being announced, Refuge undertook a huge technological operation and moved its entire Helpline, usually located in a cyber secure office environment, to an entirely remote system. This happened quickly and smoothly. Refuge has a full team working round the clock to ensure as many women as possible who need support are able to access it. Almost one in three women across England and Wales, aged between 16-59, will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime. Now, more than ever, women need to know that confidential help and support is available and that Refuge stands with them today, tomorrow and in the future. Victims of domestic abuse are not alone. Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email press@refuge.org.uk.

Refuge responds to Chancellor's charity funding package
Refuge responds to Chancellor's charity funding package

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement today of a funding package for charities, in particular the £360 million for organisations providing vital frontline services, including those supporting survivors of domestic abuse, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘Refuge is delighted with the Chancellor’s announcement today and its clear recognition of the life-saving work our frontline services carry out every day. Refuge saw a 120% increase in calls and contacts to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline on Monday, compared with the previous day - showing the sheer scale of need from women in the country today. On any given day Refuge supports more than 6,500 women and children across its services. As the UK’s largest specialist domestic abuse service provider, since the outbreak of COVID-19 we have moved quickly to ensure that our services have continued to run safely and effectively, ensuring no woman who needs us is turned away. These are unprecedented times. Refuge has worked day and night to mobilise its critical services, for example moving our National Helpline from a cyber-secure central office to offsite locations, whilst maintaining security and confidentiality. Our loss of income from pre-organised events, which are rightly paused or postponed during lockdown, has been a great concern for us, and we’ve worked round the clock to make sure our services remain open and safe. Refuge stands ready to work closely with the Government to ensure that an adequate portion of this funding is ring-fenced for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) services. The level of funding must be enough to ensure domestic abuse survivors can access vital services. Almost one in three women across England and Wales aged between 16-59 will experience domestic abuse at some point during their life. We know that abusive partners often use isolation as a tool of abuse, and that while the lockdown is not causing abuse, it can aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive men. Refuge’s services are needed more than ever, and we look forward to working with the Government to ensure its welcome charity support package protects the services that domestic abuse survivors need. Women’s lives depend on it.' For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk

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 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.