Rising costs of living are trapping women with their abusers — government needs to step in and help, says Julie Walters

WITH the rising cost of living, the fears of women trapped in abusive relationships have also increased.

According to Charity Women’s Aid, there is a growing number of cases where pressure on household finances has made it impossible for victims to leave dangerous situations.

The cost of living crisis is increasingly trapping victims of domestic violence

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The cost of living crisis is increasingly trapping victims of domestic violencePhoto credit: Getty
Dame Julie Walters says more and more women are becoming victims of financial abuse

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Dame Julie Walters says more and more women are becoming victims of financial abusePhoto credit: Rex

As part of The Sun and Women’s Aid’s Speak Out Against Domestic Abuse campaign, the charity’s patron explains the devastating impact the crisis is having on vulnerable women and children – and what can be done to help them leave violent and abusive partners .

As we move into the colder months, many people are concerned about the impact of rising bills, while at the same time weekly grocery shopping gets more expensive every week.

Despite recently announced government measures, the cost of living has risen dramatically this year.

Now imagine living in fear of an abusive partner and desperately wanting to get away with your kids, but you have less money than ever and it feels financially impossible.

Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and abusive behavior that can include physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, and the majority of those affected are women.

Women’s Aid has spoken to abuse survivors during this worrying time and the cost of living prevents women from walking or makes it difficult for them to walk, with more than a third saying it has been a barrier.

Additionally, the cost of living crisis is exacerbating existing abuse, with more than a fifth of the women we spoke to saying their partners continue to control and restrict their access to money.

Economic abuse affects many women in abusive relationships, who are denied access to money, including their own bank accounts, by the abuser and are often burdened with debt incurred by the abuser.

We work closely with Surviving Economic Abuse to support survivors experiencing this and we find ways to help in a practical way.

The women’s aid program “Rail to Refuge” was created because we know that many women and children who urgently need to leave their homes do not have money and the opportunity to travel by train for free can travel to a women’s shelter.

But fears about the cost of living go far beyond the immediate escape to a safe place.

Half said they were concerned they would not be able to provide for their children once they left, and more than half feared going into debt or having even more debt than they already are.

“He almost killed me”

Amy* said: “It’s been so stressful every month and I’m now selling personal belongings to make ends meet.”

And Sara* told us, “I feel like the only way I can keep my kids is to go back to the house of marriage where he almost killed me.”

Additionally, vital bills for life-saving domestic violence shelters are becoming unmanageable across our national network.

An employee at the refugee home revealed: “We just renewed our energy costs with our supplier and they have increased by 300 percent.

“We increased our budgets by 45 percent, but the 300 percent increase completely blew our budget for this year.”

These mounting bills are having a devastating impact on our national network of sanctuaries and other services.

It’s impossible to pass the cost on to the women who use the services – because they can’t afford it.

It is clear that we need support for women who want to leave abusive and dangerous partners, as well as support for the domestic violence shelters and services that survivors need to be safe and recover from the trauma of domestic violence.

This crisis could mean the difference between life and death for abused women this winter, especially when terrified women want to leave an abusive partner but cannot raise enough money to leave their abuser.

Almost 70 per cent of the women we spoke to said they didn’t have savings of £200 or more.

Many see no way out and feel trapped in a situation they know is dangerous.

With three women killed every two weeks in the UK by a current or former partner, their fear is real.

Women are being killed by male partners every week in this country and we need to make sure abused women struggling with the cost of living crisis have a way to a safe place.

The Speak Out Against Domestic Abuse campaign calls on everyone to take a stand to end domestic violence.

Women's Aid wants the government to provide an emergency relief fund for survivors

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Women’s Aid wants the government to provide an emergency relief fund for survivorsCredit: the sun
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Today at Women’s Aid, we are calling on the government to urgently provide an emergency relief fund for survivors to offset the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and to offer discounts on energy bills for domestic violence services that provide lifesaving support.

If we work together now and provide much-needed support, we can save lives.

*Names have been changed.

Sun Debate at Tory Headquarters

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THE Sun is teaming up with Women’s Aid to host a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham tomorrow.

Our Speak Out events on violence against women will feature a panel discussion focused on the pressing issues faced by survivors of domestic violence.

Mel B, Patron of Women’s Aid and Spice Girl, will appear on the panel alongside Mims Davies, Home Secretary for the Home Office, and Maggie Blyth, Deputy Chief Constable who coordinates the National Police’s response to violence against women and girls.

Farah Nazeer, CEO of Women’s Aid, will also appear on the panel, which will be chaired by Kate Ferguson, Political Editor of The Sun on Sunday.

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6342449/soaring-cost-living-traps-women/ Rising costs of living are trapping women with their abusers — government needs to step in and help, says Julie Walters

DevanCole

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