The new government fund will provide a vital lifeline for those experiencing domestic abuse. But how can we make sure survivors aren't alone when they choose to leave an abuser?
A new scheme is launching on 31st January to provide a ‘flee fund’ for survivors of domestic abuse. Last year a government pilot in partnership with Women’s Aid saw 600 women given £250 or £500; most women used the money to flee to a safe location and buy essentials such as food, nappies, and even security cameras.
The success of that pilot has led to this new £2 million scheme, which will provide an additional £2,500 to be used as a rental deposit or to pay bills.
Why don't they just leave?
This kind of fund could prove to be a lifeline for women who have felt trapped with their abusers. One of the many myths that surround domestic abuse is that if the abuse were ‘that bad’ then the victim would just leave. The reality just isn’t that simple: fear, isolation and sometimes even faith can hold women with abusers, believing that leaving simply isn’t a viable option.
Finance has a huge role to play in the decision to leave. Those who have been subjected to domestic abuse have often had their financial independence taken away; perhaps they haven’t been allowed to work, or have had to give all their money to their partner and have no access to funds. Leaving seems financially impossible - how would they afford a deposit? How would they get to a new location? How would they survive even if they could leave? When you add concern for children’s well-being into the mix, plus the increased costs of living that we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s easy to understand why some women choose to stay with an abuser rather than live in potential destitution.
One woman put it like this:
“I feel like my only option to keep my kids is to go back to the marital home where he nearly killed me.”
This new fund will empower women to choose freedom, and provide an essential starting block for new life.
It’s a great start. But at Restored, we know from speaking with hundreds of survivors that the road to recovery is long and about more than money, vital as that is. Community or connection is critical too. Survivors have often been isolated from friends and family; making the decision to leave a frightening and lonely one.
That’s why we're committed to developing partnerships with churches across the country to ensure that those who find the courage to leave an abuser do not have to be alone. Through our Restored Beacon Network, we’re training churches to provide a warm welcome to those who’ve experienced domestic abuse, equipping them to walk alongside survivors on the road to recovery and helping them access specialist support on the way.
If you have been affected by domestic abuse, you can join the online Restored Survivors’ Network.