“Domestic abuse survivors are being forced to stay with abusive partners because the financial help just isn’t there” says Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness

Kim McGuinness is backing fresh calls for the Government to step in with emergency funding that she said would be a ‘lifeline to trapped survivors of domestic abuse across the North East’.

Figures released by Women’s Aid last week revealed the devastating impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on those wishing to flee abusive relationships, yet fear they lack the finances to do so.

Earlier this year the North-East overtook London as the UK’s child poverty hotspot, with two in five children living below the poverty line. As a region with the highest levels of poverty, the commissioner believes there could be more victims trapped in abusive relationships because they can’t afford to leave, and especially if the perpetrator controls the family finances and restricts what resources their victim has access to.

Women’s Aid findings show almost all survivors (96%) had seen a negative impact on the amount of money available to them as a result of cost-of-living increases. Almost three quarters (73%) said the cost-of-living crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave. They are, therefore, calling on Government for an Emergency Support Fund to help offset the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Right now domestic abuse victims wishing to escape their abuser are being failed. Rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis is making life harder for everyone, but for those living with domestic abuse every single day, the impact and consequences don’t bear thinking about, but we must and we must find solutions for these survivors.

“With economic abuse, perpetrators control a victim’s access to finances and the things money can buy such as a phone, food, clothes, fuel, heating and so on. Perpetrators may use the cost-of-living crisis as an excuse to further tighten the economic abuse of their victims.

“We can’t keep piling the pressure on the refuges either,” she added. “We have wonderful organisations who are there picking up the pieces, supporting victims and doing all they can, but they can only do so much and the reality is, they too are hit hard by rising energy and running costs.

“These survivors have suffered enough, poverty shouldn’t be another obstacle in their way, surely Government can’t choose to ignore the needs of people who could be in real danger any longer?”

Sarah Davidge, Head of Research and Evaluation (Interim) at Women’s Aid Federation of England welcomed the support from Kim McGuinness. She said:

“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.

“Time is of the essence: we are quickly approaching the winter months, when 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 be free from abuse.”

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can report an incident by ringing 101 or visiting www.northumbria.pnn.police.uk. Also, in a non-emergency situation you can text 07786 200814. In an emergency, always call 999. For free, confidential support and advice you can call the Northumbria Victims and Witnesses Service on 08000113116. For more information on Surviving Economic Abuse, click here.