Policy & Research
Solace Women’s Aid is committed to elevating the voices of survivors of domestic and sexual violence and seeking opportunities for their insights to be shared with local and national policy makers.
In June 2014 Solace Women’s Aid launched Finding the Costs of Freedom, a 3 year research project conducted in partnership with the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU). This critical research examined how women and children rebuild their lives after domestic violence and is the first study of its kind in Europe.
The research tracked 100 women and their children over a three year period after they had accessed one or more of Solace Women’s Aid’s services. The study identified that for all the participants, removing themselves from the immediate control of an abusive man was only the first step. Over 90% experienced post-separation abuse. During this period specialist services were critical to women being and feeling safe, as well as dealing with the legacies of abuse for themselves and their children.
The research analysed the barriers and enabling factors for women on their journeys to freedom. It examined issues around safety, housing, social and relational networks, health and wellbeing, children and parenting, education, employment and financial stability. The study provides a crucial evidence base on the long term impact of domestic violence and demonstrates the need to invest in holistic support to meet the needs of survivors so that they can thrive in safety and freedom.
Key recommendations from the study include:
- All women and children who have experienced domestic violence should be able to access a range of practical and therapeutic support for a minimum of two years after leaving their abusers.
- All agencies dealing with victims of domestic violence should ensure staff are trained to recognise domestic abuse and have an understanding of coercive control.
- Refuge provision should be guaranteed and funded through a national fund with a move on pathway.
- The end of crisis loans and community care grants has made the rebuilding process even more complex, and welfare benefit reforms have created serious hardship. A specific fund for families relocating due to domestic violence should be created by central government.
- National and local awareness raising work needs to expand understanding of what domestic violence is, alongside clear messages about listening to survivors and offering support when needed.