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Cost of Living Crisis Impacting Victims of Domestic Abuse

20 July 2022

calculator and gas bill

The rising cost of living is having an impact on everyone, with household bills increasing, as well as food and fuel prices.

A recent study by national domestic abuse charity Refuge has shown that the cost-of-living crisis is having an even bigger impact on those experiencing domestic abuse, making them less likely to reach out for support.

Despite the challenging financial situation that many find themselves in, it is important that those experiencing domestic abuse can access support, should they need it.

Refuge’s Findings:

The study was conducted by interviewing some of Refuge’s frontline staff to find out the impacts on survivors of domestic abuse and any trends that they were seeing. 97% of frontline staff surveyed said the cost-of-living crisis was having a significant or severe impact on survivors. In many cases, survivors were forced to use foodbanks for essential items.

Nearly three quarters of staff said that the cost-of-living crisis was deterring survivors from accessing support, whilst 68% said that survivors were questioning whether they had made the right decision to leave the perpetrator given how financially challenging it is.

Half of the staff interviewed said that the people they were supporting had to buy new items that they had left behind, including clothes, technology, and other basic household items.

Accessing Support

It is clear that the cost-of-living crisis is already having an impact on those experiencing domestic abuse and it is feasible that this could be heightened in the autumn with bills expected to increase further.

Staying with a perpetrator can be extremely dangerous though, potentially causing further serious harm or homicide. The long-term effects of domestic abuse – such as mental health problems or drug and alcohol misuse – can also be exacerbated by staying in a relationship for a longer period.

This is why it is important that survivors continue to access support during this time and are not put off by the increasing financial barriers that are put in front of them.

As voiced by Refuge, the government needs to ensure that those experiencing domestic abuse and those that have recently left perpetrators are safe and have access to the essentials.

Refuge recommendations, which we fully endorse, are as follows:

  • Universal Credit, working tax credit and other ‘legacy’ benefits should be increased by £20 per week – this would restore the benefits ‘uplift’ provided during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Universal Credit and other benefit advances to be made payable to survivors as grants instead of loans
  • Survivors of domestic abuse to be made exempt from the benefit cap
  • Universal Credit to be paid by default into separate accounts when claimed jointly as a couple.

With a potentially tough autumn ahead, it is important for action to happen quickly. We must also continue to raise awareness of the support that is available to those experiencing domestic abuse, encouraging those people to come forward for support.

If you have been affected by an experience of domestic abuse, you can reach out to us for support by calling 0300 561 0077. If you don’t feel safe to speak, you can still access support by emailing