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Women escaping domestic abuse forced into homelessness, report finds

THE absence of refuge space has pushed women escaping domestic abuse into homelessness, a new report has found.

Women from BAME background are more likely to face homelessness as a result of domestic abuse, the research by leading domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid revealed.

In their report titled No Women Turned Away, released on Wednesday (11), the charity revealed that they helped 309 women who had nowhere to go as they fled domestic abuse.

In the last year, 136 (44 per cent) of these women sofa-surfed, 42 (14 per cent) stayed in local authority emergency accommodation, 22 (7 per cent) slept rough and 12 (4 per cent) stayed in a B&B, hostel or hotel.

Abuse victim Alya said she faced with a choice between homelessness or returning to her abuser. Another victim named Mumtaz said: “By the end of it I was just broken and there’s just pieces of me … I don’t know whether my perpetrator was worse or this was worse … I’d come from one thing and got dumped into another hellhole.”

Women’s Aid’s Annual Audit (2019) found a shortfall of refuge bed spaces of 1,715 in England.

Adina Claire, acting co-chief executive of Women’s Aid, argued it was “scandalous” women fleeing domestic abuse in 2019 still face the “terrifying prospect” of either returning to their perpetrator or facing homelessness.

“We are facing a chronic shortage of bed spaces in specialist refuge services, and this is causing unimaginable suffering for women at a time when they are most in need of support,” she said.

She added: “Women recovering from domestic abuse need the specialist, holistic support that domestic abuse refuges provide. It goes without saying that survivors should not have to sleep rough, yet, for the third year running, we found that this is still happening, even to pregnant women and children.

“As it stands today, a survivor’s access to support services is dependent on her immigration status. We are calling on the government to deliver a domestic abuse bill that guarantees access to support for every survivor, including women with ‘no recourse to public funds’.”