Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Housing benefit is the lifeblood of women’s refuges – and it’s under threat by Sandra Horley

Refuge opened the world’s first women’s refuge in 1971. Women and children flocked to our doors. For the first time somebody was saying to them: “This is not acceptable, and it is not your fault.” Since then we have become the largest single provider of specialist refuge accommodation in the country. Last year 1,500 women and children fleeing domestic violence were kept safe in our refuges. Yet now our emergency accommodation may be under threat.

Refuge is a social landlord. If organisations such as ours are not exempted from the government’s decision to extend Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to social housing – effectively a cap on housing benefit – it could mean the collapse of the sector we started more than 40 years ago.

Housing benefit is the lifeblood of women’s refuges. As a non-profit organisation, Refuge relies on the rental income from women who stay with us to fund the service. LHA is set in line with the lowest 30% of market rents in a given area. These rates would not even meet refuge rent charges, let alone the additional funds needed to maintain specialist emergency accommodation like ours. In this scenario we would be forced to shut down our life-saving refuges and turn women and children away.  ...


This article was written by Sandra Horley, the Chief Executive of Refuge and published in the Guardian on 17.2.16. You can read the rest of the article here.


Inspired by our participation with the Write to End Violence Against Women awards organised by Zero Tolerance, we are now collecting examples of good journalism and writing about domestic and sexual violence and abuse to make it clear that it is possible to write about DSVA without resorting to myths, misrepresentations, minimisation and victim blaming.

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