LauraMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 22-Feb-17 15:57:38

Guest post: "We need to protect the long-term future of refuges"

Survivor of domestic abuse Mandy Thomas says a proposed new funding model puts the future of refuges on shaky ground

Mandy Thomas

Women's Aid

Posted on: Wed 22-Feb-17 15:57:38


Lead photo

"Until we see investment go into the prevention of domestic abuse, there will always be victims on the run."

Perpetrators of domestic abuse destroy lives. I had lived in terror and pain because of my perpetrator, but a refuge saved my life, and the lives of my four children.

Two women a week, on average, are killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. Domestic abuse needs to be at the top of political conversation and the Government must listen to survivors to get the truth of how we have to live to survive.

There is a common misconception that refuges just provide shelter – but they are so much more than just a safe place for a night or two. Refuges provide a specialist service to help you recover and rebuild – and make you and your children smile again. The staff are highly trained, and they can support you with compassion and understanding. Because, when you go into a refuge, it is the most dangerous time for you.

My children and I were forced into refuges by my ex. I have buried two sons because of him. One was lost to a violent physical assault when I was pregnant. My eldest son, Daniel, committed suicide.

There is a common misconception that refuges just provide shelter – but they are so much more than just a safe place for a night or two. Refuges provide a specialist service to help you recover and rebuild

A proposed new funding model for supported housing puts the future of domestic abuse refuges on shaky ground. Last month, Women’s Aid revealed that refuges could be forced to close under plans for a new system where refuge funding is included in a model for all supported housing. The new model lists specialist domestic abuse refuges as 'short-term accommodation' and brings back the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap for refuges too. As proposals stand, the new funding model ignores the specialist nature of refuge services for women and children, and could force many to close. Women's Aid is calling instead for a specific funding model for refuges and permanent exemption from changes to the LHA cap.

We need to protect the long-term future of refuges because there is nothing else out there to fill the gap they would leave if they were gone. A refuge gives the victims of abuse the security they need to breathe, to rebuild and move on, and to process their trauma.

Until we see increased investment go into the prevention of domestic abuse, there will continue to be a need for refuges. Victims will continue to need a safe place to run, they will continue to need domestic abuse services that pick up the pieces. They will continue to need the services provided by organisations such as Women's Aid.

By Mandy Thomas

Twitter: @womensaid

ReginaGeorgeinSheepsClothing Thu 02-Mar-17 16:46:51

Am horrified by this- I am in Scotland so am assuming writing to my MP wouldnt be of use?

venusinscorpio Thu 02-Mar-17 18:05:19

Your story is absolutely horrific and has made me cry. So sorry about all you went through OP and for your poor sons and your family flowers

I didn't know about this new rule and will definitely write to my MP about it. Thank you so much for bringing it to our attention. I'm speaking as a survivor of domestic violence myself though luckily no children were involved.

HackAttack Thu 02-Mar-17 19:31:51

This is terrible sad

highinthesky Fri 03-Mar-17 01:29:19

Didnt the Prime Minister voice her support for victims of domestic abuse recently, apparently it's a cause she's championed for years.

It's time she put her money where her mouth is.

EmpressOfTheSpartacusOceans Fri 03-Mar-17 07:33:34

I'll write to my MP too. Thank you for raising this.

CockapooMum Fri 03-Mar-17 08:47:37

I'm currently in refuge at the moment after escaping from my ex partner who continually breached the restraining order, stalked and harassed me, put the windows thru on my house and car. Whilst in the relationship he was physically, sexually, verbally, financially and emotionally to me.

My local council are refusing to help me as they are saying I could return to my private rented property as he is currently in prison but he will be released 3 weeks today. They do not understand the psychological trauma me and my children have suffered and we need the support of the refuge and my children need to feel safe. I need everything gone from my house by then so he can't find me that way as that is the first place he will look for us but the council want me to see out my tenancy agreement when both the police, local Womens aid and Stalking Helpline agree this would be a terrible idea.

I fear this will only end when either him or me are dead and it terrifies me. I've uploaded a heartbreaking prayer my 6 yr old wrote and no child should feel like that. She's scared he's going to kill me and I share those fears. I've tried to shield her as much as poss but she's not daft.

More needs to be done to get the CJS (Criminal Justice System) to take things seriously as this is his 3rd custodial sentence for breaching restraining order and his sentence was 12 weeks but he'll have served 6. It says on it punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment but why aren't we seeing tougher sentences for repeat offenders.

The National Stalking Helpline recommended he be charged with 4A Stalking and he was charged with Harassment instead which at least he plead guilty to to save me the ordeal of going to court.

I have a new restraining order but can't say I feel at all protected by it as he continually breaches it with impunity.

Please write to your MP's and help ensure Womens Refuges stay open and are exempt from the cuts. The work they do supporting women after Domestic Abuse is saving lives. I'm hoping I can have a fresh start for me and my girls. I'm still working in the same place and the kids still go to school as we've been lucky to stay in the area as all my family are here. I just have to hope he will stop and won't find my new address once I leave here.


SailAwayWithMeHoney Fri 03-Mar-17 14:37:10

Refuge too saved my life and the life of my child. Had we not fled, my ex partner would have killed me. A failed criminal trial and a succesful non-molestation order later, I'm now trying to piece life back together, hoping that he just leaves us alone.

PP is right in that Theresa May has been something of a champion for women's rights and ending violence against women and girls...indeed it is time to put her money where her mouth is.

flowers to you all.

Angelreid14 Fri 03-Mar-17 21:33:33

You are right there law on DV is a joke. Nothing gets taken seriously, these men should be properly charged and reprimanded. Why does it take a child to lose a mum before it gets taken seriously. That goes for the police too.

Akire Sat 04-Mar-17 10:11:16

I heard about this, it's awful and totally unrealistic it will cost more in long term with other services and impact on health. Sadly it's same with homeless hostels and sheltered accomadation with staff all coming under new Cap so they become unaffordable.

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