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

Press releases

Refuge responds to appointment of first Domestic Abuse Commissioner
Refuge responds to appointment of first Domestic Abuse Commissioner

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘We are delighted with the appointment of Nicole Jacobs as the UKs first Domestic Abuse Commissioner. Nicole has a terrific history of championing women’s rights and supporting survivors. Having had the pleasure of working with Nicole here at Refuge and her work at Standing Together we believe she will do a brilliant job and will ensure survivors and their needs are front and centre of her new role. We now need to see assurances from the Government however that, as previously promised, they will legislate for this role in the Domestic Abuse Bill and make sure it has the powers and money needed to make a real difference.’ For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to domestic homicide stats
Refuge responds to domestic homicide stats

In response to the domestic homicide statistics released today, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: 'These statistics are truly horrifying. Domestic violence is a national travesty and the biggest issue facing women and girls worldwide. At Refuge we know only too well what happens when violence against women and girls goes unchallenged, and these statistics should be a wakeup call for politicians and the criminal justice system. Now more than ever, violence against women and girls must be taken seriously. But change will not happen without pressure, and we know that women and girls depend on us to keep pushing for action. To put it simply, without the necessary action to address violence against women and girls, these appalling statistics are unlikely to be reduced. However, there are immediate measures that the Government can take. These measures need to ensure that women can reach safety quickly - for example by committing statutory funding to refuges. This would be a welcome first step in ensuring that women fleeing domestic abuse are able escape from violent partners. There is a straightforward route to addressing violence against women and girls, and prioritising the safety of survivors. We hope the government will stick to its welcome commitment and ensure that the Domestic Abuse Bill is given priority in the Queen’s Speech, along with a clear and simple agenda for its passage into law. We know that the Bill has the ability to transform how violence against women and girls is addressed, and we hope that the Prime Minister will reaffirm this when Parliament reconvenes next month.' For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to homelessness statistics
Refuge responds to homelessness statistics

Responding to the release of statistics on homelessness, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: 'Between April 2018 and March 2019, more than 22 thousand survivors had to leave their homes as a result of domestic abuse. This is a shocking statistic and one which reaffirms what we already know: that statutory funding for refuges must increase, and those fleeing domestic abuse must be granted priority housing status. As the law currently stands, fleeing domestic abuse does not automatically qualify you as being in urgent need of rehousing. This is unacceptable and in some cases can mean a survivor of domestic abuse having to choose between staying with the perpetrator or facing homelessness. This is not a choice any survivor should be forced to make. There is a straightforward way that the government can ensure domestic abuse survivors are not faced with such a choice. The Domestic Abuse Bill, currently on hold while Parliament is suspended, must, as indicated by the Prime Minister today, be prioritised in the Queen’s Speech, and a clear timetable for its passage into law with minimal delay must be laid out. The Domestic Abuse Bill has the potential to save lives and transform the response to violence against women and girls. But it must ensure that survivors of domestic abuse are recognised as being in priority housing need and get access to the housing they desperately need to stay safe. We look forward to working with the government to make this a reality.' For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Response to CPS Violence Against Women and Girls report
Response to CPS Violence Against Women and Girls report

Refuge responds to Crown Prosecution Service Violence Against Women and Girls report. In response to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report, Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘These statistics are sadly not a surprise - but they are nonetheless extremely disappointing. More and more women are reporting rape, yet numbers of prosecutions and convictions have reduced dramatically. What kind of message does this send to women and girls? That they won’t be believed? That their experiences are will be trivialised? That their voices are not valid? Additionally, there has been a large decline of more than 11% for completed domestic abuse prosecutions, even though more and more women are reporting domestic abuse to the police. With one in every four women experiencing domestic abuse in their lifetime, these figures show that the criminal justice system is continuing to fail women. With a reduced hope of seeing their perpetrators prosecuted for their crimes, women are likely to become increasingly unconfident to call the police, and will be disempowered when they should be supported. Women have a right to be safe and the authorities have a legal duty to protect them. We have a real chance to address violence against women and girls with the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill and we will be looking to the Government to ensure that the Bill is a priority in the Queens speech and that a clear pathway is set out for its passage into law. With these figures released today, we know that women’s lives depend on radical action and we look forward to working with the Government to deliver systemic change.' For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Geoffrey Boycott statement
Geoffrey Boycott statement

Responding to the news that Geoffrey Boycott has been awarded a knighthood, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: “The news that Geoffrey Boycott has been awarded a knighthood is shocking and disappointing. It also sends an extremely concerning message: that violence against women and girls is tolerated, and even rewarded. Across the UK two women every week are killed by a current or former partner, and one in four women experiences domestic violence at some time in their life. Awarding an honour to a man convicted of domestic violence serves to trivialise and normalise domestic abuse, making a mockery of attempts to address it. Refuge hopes that this knighthood will be revoked with immediate effect. This would go some way towards acknowledging the seriousness of this error, and would also send a clear signal to society that violence against women and girls must stop.” For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731.

Refuge responds to announcement that the Domestic Abuse Bill will be carried over into the next parliament.
Refuge responds to announcement that the Domestic Abuse Bill will be carried over into the next parliament.

In response to the announcement today that the Prime Minister intends to ensure that the Domestic Abuse Bill is carried over into the next parliamentary session, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of national domestic abuse charity Refuge said: ‘We are delighted that the Government has today made a clear statement confirming that the Domestic Abuse Bill will be carried over into the next parliamentary session. This Bill represents many years of work for Refuge and our colleagues across the Violence against Women and Girls sector. In England and Wales, two women every week are killed by their current or former partner and this Bill has the potential to transform the response to violence against women and girls. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure the Bill is as strong as possible and transforms the lives of women and girls across the country.’ For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. Outside of working hours, please call 07970 894240.

Refuge welcomes the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill
Refuge welcomes the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill

Refuge welcomes today’s announcement of the Domestic Abuse Bill and seeing the Government tackle the vital topic of domestic abuse. Reforming the criminal justice system is vitally important but so is providing emergency accommodation. Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Refuge welcomes the Domestic Abuse Bill and the important changes it will bring. Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today. “The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has championed the issue of domestic abuse and has brought this important piece of legislation to bear.  As the Bill stands it will bring about changes to the criminal justice system and improve the response of state agencies to women and children who experience abuse. This is much needed and Refuge supports these positive developments. “But the criminal justice system is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to addressing domestic abuse.  It is essential that within the Bill there is a duty to provide sustainable funding for life-saving specialist domestic violence services, in particular refuges. Refuges are much more than a roof over a woman and child’s head – they provide emergency support and save lives. “Refuge also hopes that the Bill will incorporate the suggestions made by MPs and Peers and will address the welfare system so it meets the needs of survivors, whilst giving priority access to housing and funding for women with insecure immigration status. “Making the Bill broader in its terms of reference will ensure this once in a generation opportunity brings about much needed change to an epidemic which claims the lives of around two women every week in England and Wales alone. “Refuge looks forward to working with the Government in the weeks to come to ensure the voices and needs of survivors are enshrined in this essential piece of legislation.” For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. Outside of working hours, please call 07970 894240. A spokesperson is available    

EastEnders working with Refuge and Women's Aid on Chantelle Atkin's storyline 
EastEnders working with Refuge and Women's Aid on Chantelle Atkin's storyline 

  EastEnders is working with Refuge and Women’s Aid on a domestic abuse storyline involving Chantelle and Gray Atkins. Chantelle and Gray moved to Albert Square earlier this year with their two children Mia and Mackenzie. As they settled into Walford, they seemed to have the perfect life. Gray, a successful solicitor and Chantelle a hair stylist, they were the vision of a young professional couple, deeply in love. However in tonight’s episode (Friday 12th July), viewers saw the devastating truth about what was happening behind closed doors. Gray attacked his wife the instant they were alone and it soon became clear this was not the first time it has happened. Despite being part of the close-knit Taylor family, Chantelle has yet to tell anyone the truth about the abuse she suffers at her husbands hands and continues to harbour the secret. Sandra Horley, CBE, chief executive of Refuge says: “Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today.  It is a crime which takes the lives of two women every week in England and Wales alone, with one in four women experiencing abuse in their lifetime.  Domestic abuse mostly happens behind closed doors – hidden, lurking in the shadows of our society. “The more we all understand domestic abuse – be it the physical, emotional, sexual, financial control exerted by one partner over another – and are able to spot the signs – the more women, like Chantelle, will be able to seek help from specialist organisations like Refuge.   No one should live in fear of their partner; Refuge commends Eastenders on for shining a light on this insidious issue.” Teresa Parker, Head of Communications for Women’s Aid added: “It is important when portraying domestic abuse on screen to make it as realistic as possible, and EastEnders have been working with us from the early stages of the storyline, through to advising on themes to the detail of the scripts. From the initial red flags to seeing what is going on behind closed doors, this storyline has been thoroughly researched with experts in domestic abuse. As well as using our knowledge of survivors’ stories to inform our feedback, we visited the show with Natalie, who is a survivor of domestic abuse who campaigns with us at Women’s Aid. She met with the scriptwriters and with Jessica who plays the part of Chantelle, to talk through what it is really like to experience abuse in a relationship. We look forward to supporting Jessica, Toby and the EastEnders team as they develop this new storyline, which will raise so much awareness of what is often a hidden issue.” Kate Oates (Head of Continuing Drama Series) added: “When Chantelle and Gray arrived on the Square, they gave many of their neighbours a big dose of life-envy with their perfect relationship and no-filter-needed looks and lifestyle. But there is truth in the old adage that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors; and the very first time we crossed the threshold of No 1, we saw the truth of their relationship, and the violence Gray subjects Chantelle to. In this story, we seek to acknowledge the fact that any relationship, however outwardly enviable, can be affected by violence and abuse. Chantelle is strong and capable, with friends and family to support her; and yet she is still unable to voice what is happening to her, and is therefore preventing anyone from helping her because she regards her abuse as a shameful secret. We hope this story encourages women and men who experience violence to seek out the help we know they deserve.” Taking on the storyline Jessica Plummer who plays Chantelle Atkins commented: “I feel honoured to take on the responsibility of Chantelle’s story.  This is an issue that I, and everyone at EastEnders, hope we can raise awareness of. Many women and men that are in Chantelle’s situation suffer in silence and we really hope that by showing this story we can highlight an issue and encourage those in similar situations to seek the help they need.” Toby Alexander Smith who plays Gray Atkins added: “Chantelle and Gray’s journey is about to take a huge turn for the audience. This storyline will depict how hidden from sight domestic abuse remains even today. To the unaware eye Gray appears to be a loving husband and a committed father; but his charm is a front for the power and control he exerts over Chantelle – an experience all too common to thousands of women up and down the country today. Domestic abuse, in all its forms is against the law and is shrouded in secrecy. I hope that by tackling such a sensitive subject matter we can raise awareness of the importance of changing societal values so that both women and men’s rights to live free from abuse, invasion, disempowerment and intimidation are respected.”   Get help now. If your partner turns on you, turn to us. If you are in need of support please visit our support pages. For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. Outside of working hours, please call 07970 894240.  

Refuge subverts Father's Day with hard-hitting ad
Refuge subverts Father's Day with hard-hitting ad

  Domestic abuse charity looks at the flipside of Father’s Day with its ‘Turn To Us’ campaign telling opposing stories in one poem Emotional poem shines a spotlight on child who witness and experience domestic abuse One in five children thought to be living with domestic abuse The poem tells a retrospective tale of a child remembering instances of domestic violence at the hands of his father when read in reverse Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic violence charity, has unveiled a hard-hitting poem to raise awareness of the physical, psychological and emotional effects of domestic violence on children. In the lead up to Father’s Day, the poem recites a story of a child remembering his father while recounting specific instances of domestic abuse faced at home whilst growing up. One of five in a collection of reversible poems, “Remembering my Father”, when read top to bottom, tells the story of a happy child reminiscing his loving father, but when read in reverse, it depicts the terrifying tale of domestic abuse as experienced by a child. The award winning campaign[i], created for Refuge by advertising agency McCann Bristol, aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic abuse and the huge number of children affected on a daily basis and that no one, no matter what time of year, should suffer in silence. They should turn to Refuge for support. Even now, domestic abuse is persistent and widespread; there are more than 800,000 children in the UK each year living in a family with domestic violence[ii]. Refuge believes that no-one should have to live in fear of violence and abuse. Speaking on growing up with domestic abuse as a child, award winning actor and Refuge patron Sir Patrick Stewart OBE says “As a child I witnessed repeated violence against my mother – but there was nowhere to go for help. The truth is, domestic violence is protected by silence. More women and children just like my mother and me, will continue to experience abuse unless we all speak out against it.”  Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says “Children witness and experience domestic abuse all year round; for many Father’s Day will be like any other day, filled with fear and uncertainty. Refuge supports over 3,000 children across its specialist services every day and with our expert support they can overcome the trauma of witnessing or experiencing violence and go on to live safe, happy lives. “On Father’s Day we hope the ‘Remembering our Father’ poem is shared far and wide to raise awareness that any woman and child experiencing domestic violence should reach out and access support – they are not alone. Today’s children are tomorrow’s future and we at Refuge want to give all children a future growing up free from violence and fear.” Click on the thumbnail image below to read the poem in full. Get help now. If your partner turns on you, turn to us. If you are in need of support please visit our support pages. For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. Outside of working hours, please call 07970 894240.   [i] The reversible poem campaign has won a slew of awards as a result, including a D&AD wood pencil, a One Show silver pencil, and nine Creative Circle accolades. It is now hotly tipped at the Cannes Lions, the advertising world’s Oscars, which start on Monday 17th June. [ii] According to the Children’s Commissioner.    

Landmark coercive control ruling: Survivor Sally Challen will not face a retrial
Landmark coercive control ruling: Survivor Sally Challen will not face a retrial

Sally Challen was convicted of murdering her husband Richard in 2011, following decades of emotional abuse. In light of a change in the law in 2015 recognising coercive control as a crime, Sally’s conviction was successfully appealed and overturned earlier this February; setting a precedent in terms of recognising the psychological impact of coercive control on victims. On 7 June 2019, prosecutors accepted Sally's manslaughter plea ahead of a second murder trial scheduled for next month. She has been sentenced to nine years and four months for manslaughter but has been released due to time served. In response to the landmark coercive control ruling, Refuge’s CEO Sandra Horley said: “Refuge is delighted that Sally Challen will no longer face a retrial for the murder of her husband. We strongly welcome the decision by prosecutors to accept her manslaughter plea on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Sally suffered decades of emotional abuse and coercive control by her husband before she killed him in 2010 and she has already served over eight years in prison following an earlier trial for murder. “Eight out of 10 women supported by Refuge in 2017 had suffered psychological abuse, on average for a period of six years. The impact of non-physical abuse can be equally as devastating and long-lasting as physical abuse. Today’s ruling is a huge achievement on the part of her sons, David and James, who have tirelessly campaigned for the release of their mother.” For more information, please email press@refuge.org.uk or call 0207 395 7731. Outside of working hours, please call 07970 894240.