'I thought I was going to be killed - but had to wait weeks for a refuge place'

Victims of domestic violence are waiting weeks before being found accommodation in refuges.

Domestic violence victims have shared their stories to highlight the lack of available space at refuges.

One woman said: “I packed my clothes, in a suitcase, and I went. I said 'I cannot go back, if he knows that I left, he will kill me'.

“I called a helpline and I said that I need help now. The support worker wanted to put me in a refuge that day, which didn’t happen. I spent weeks on friend’s floors before they found a refuge for me.”

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Jess Phillips, Labour MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Domestic Violence: “This evidence certainly backs up what I have heard from around the country. Specialist domestic violence services are being hollowed out by council cuts forced by the government’s austerity programme.

“The government keep saying that they are investing tens of millions in to domestic violence services but this is not being felt on the ground. Domestic violence services need consistent funding they simply cannot manage living hand to mouth year on year. Unless we get this right women and children will suffer.”

Maria Miller, Conservative MP and vice chair of APPG on Domestic Violence, said: “The Government is clearly committed to tackling domestic violence and the Prime Minister has led the way in improving the law and ensuring public services support domestic violence survivors.

"Local authorities are under financial pressure along with the rest of public services but it is not right that refugees should suffer disproportionately.

"In the new Domestic Violence Bill to be introduced in the coming months I believe the Government needs to put in place a statutory requirement for local authorities to ensure there is a sufficient supply of refuge places in their area. Refuges provide a vital service and need to be protected.”

One refuge manager in North-East England said: “We are sick to death of Labour councils blaming it on Tory cuts, the Tories haven’t actually cut funding to refuges by much, it’s councils choosing to de-prioritise women’s services.

"Women and children are going to die as a result, and tens of thousands more will suffer preventable harm, with lifelong consequences. It is stupid, short sighted, and will costs councils and the country far more in the short and long term, than it would to simply fund services properly.”