A shocking new report has revealed that domestic violence victims are being sent back to their abusers because of austerity cuts to local services.
The Women’s Aid report reveals the horrific ordeal faced by women who need emergency housing when they flee abuse.
Of the women surveyed, more than one in ten were forced to sleep rough during their search for a refuge and eight per cent gave up their search and returned to their abuser.
Almost half (46 per cent) were forced to ‘sofa surf’ with friends – a situation which can put them in a precarious and dangerous position.
Ninety-seven of the women surveyed said they had approached their local housing team for support following an abusive relationship.
Just over half of them (53.6 per cent) were prevented from making a valid homelessness application, and therefore refused assistance with emergency accommodation.
One in six were asked for proof of abuse — including being asked to contact their abuser.
Speaking to Politics.co.uk, one victim said: “We were fleeing for our lives. But when I went to the council to ask for housing support, they wanted written proof from my perpetrator that I had been made homeless because of the abuse he inflicted upon me.
“They wanted me to ask him to write a letter.
“The way councils treat women leaving abusive relationships means we literally cannot escape.”
“They don’t have the housing spaces to put women into, so they will try and defer you as much as possible.
“If they process your homelessness claim, they then have a legal duty to house you.
“So they’re not really willing to help people unless they have the means to do so.”
One in ten women were told they had made themselves intentionally homeless, the research showed, with many relying on charities such as Women’s Aid for help.
Since 2010 one in six refuges has closed, with changes to funding provisions for specialist services likely to lead to more shutting their doors in future.