As the cost of living crisis deepens in the UK, more and more women are finding themselves unable to afford basic necessities. This is especially true for women who are fleeing abusive relationships. Without access to affordable housing, childcare, and being able to afford basic necessities as the prices continue to rise, these women are forced to choose between staying in an abusive situation or becoming homeless.
A recent study from Womens Aid found that the majority of women who are fleeing abuse are unable to find safe and affordable housing.
Almost three quarters (73%) of women who live with their partners and have financial links with them said that the cost of living crisis has either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave.
Reasons women were unable to flee include being unable to afford ongoing living costs on a single income (69%), the immediate costs of leaving (67%), getting into debt (52%), not being able to support their children, (50%) or fear that benefits would not cover increased living costs (48%).
The first step in breaking free from an abusive relationship is getting out. But for many women, this is easier said than done. A lack of financial stability prevents women from leaving an abuser. The cost of living crisis is undoubtedly isolating vulnerable women and make it difficult for them to get out of an abusive relationship.
Women’s Aid surveyed survivors and found that they need more direct financial and practical support during the cost of living crisis, which is only set to get worse over the coming winter months. Mortgage holidays and bill assistance would help survivors immensely and many survivors also need help with essential items like food and clothing. Housing funding options would also immensely help sufferers of domestic abuse throughout the crisis as they have major concerns about running a house due to the sharp increase in utility bills.
“A huge factor constraining women’s and children’s choices in resisting domestic abuse is their economic disadvantage.” the CEO of Scottish Women’s Aid, Martha Scott.
The rising costs of food and fuel, plus the scrapping of the Universal Credit uplift with the continuing rising costs following the pandemic are all major contributors to some women experiencing economic abuse, feeling trapped and isolated and that they are unable to leave their abuser. The situation worsens for those abused that have children as they are concerned of how they can survive with lower disposable income to keep their child safe. There simply is not the adequate support out there to help abuse victims through this worrying economic downturn.
Women’s Aid is calling on the government to provide more direct financial and practical support to survivors of domestic abuse.
With the winter months set to see another increase in fuel costs, and back to school shopping essentials are currently being budgeted for the lack of disposable income, particularly for low income families is more apparent than ever and accessing the right support services is vital to ensure domestic abuse victims are able to escape and support is at hand.