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Nearly three quarters of domestic abuse survivors say the cost of living crisis has prevented them from leaving or made it harder to leave their abuser.
The current financial climate has seen the cost of utility bills, fuel and even basic food items like butter rising to extortionate levels, and studies now suggest that it can even have a knock-on effect on domestic abuse victims.
Studies conducted by Women’s Aid have shown that the cost of living crisis has 'created extra barriers to women fleeing abuse', with 73 percent of women being tied to financial links with their abuser during the cost of living crisis, which has either prevented them or made it more difficult for them to leave.
The study also revealed that 69 percent of victims were unable to flee due to an inability to afford current living costs on a single income, while 67 percent could not afford the immediate costs of living.
Meanwhile, 52 percent of survivors were concerned about getting into debt, 50 percent were unable to financially support their children and 48 percent feared that government benefits would not cover increased living costs.
Furthermore, the domestic abuse charity has found that abusers are now using the current financial situation as a means to implement coercive control.
Over a fifth of survivors told the charity that their abuser used the crisis as a way to justify controlling their access to funds, including reducing the money they are given for essential items.
Women also revealed how ex-partners used the crisis to justify reducing child maintenance payments.
It comes as the UK government recently announced that millions of households would be receiving cost of living payments in July.
However, Women’s Aid is now calling for the government to launch further action to support survivors of domestic abuse.
They have suggested that an Emergency Domestic Abuse Fund should be facilitated to meet the increasing demand towards the rising cost of delivering safe care, as well as a reduction in energy costs for all refugees during the cost of living crisis.
They have suggested that the government-led incentive of the Warm Home Discount Scheme – which is currently only available to pensioners and those on low income who meet specific energy suppliers’ criteria – should be extended to include refugees.
They are also calling on 'better provision of legal services for survivors', including reducing legal costs, implementing interest-free loans for legal support where necessary, and allowing fairer access to legal aid for survivors.
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said in a statement: “This crisis is having an unprecedented impact on women and children and requires urgent action. While the government has made some positive progress in this area, more must be done.
“We urge the government to provide an Emergency Support Fund for Survivors to offset the impact of the cost of living crisis. We also ask that the government offers discounts on energy bills to domestic abuse services that provide lifesaving support.
“We are quickly approaching the winter months where the crisis will only get worse. Survivors have suffered enough, having been trapped in their homes during COVID: they must be offered the help they need to support their children and to be free from abuse.”
Tyla has contacted the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, Jess Phillips, for a comment on whether these actions are something that the government could facilitate.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays.
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