Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Benefit Cuts 'Trap Domestic Abuse Victims'

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Benefit Cuts 'Trap Domestic Abuse Victims'

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter

WELFARE reforms have made it harder for domestic violence victims to leave their bullying partners.

That's the view of expert Elaine Langshaw, service director at Newcastle Women's Aid.

The charity, which provides advice services and emergency accommodation to abuse victims, reports a marked change in the needs of the women they come into contact with over recent years.

While their outreach services are currently at capacity, staff and volunteers have seen less demand for places at its specialist refuge, which is in a secret location in Newcastle.

But Elaine fears this does not mean less women are being forced to leave their homes to stay safe.

Instead, she believes that cuts in benefits and housing problems have made it harder for abused partners to make the break - and that could be putting them at risk.

"We have seem a rise in the number of people wanting support from our outreach services," she said.

"There could be many reasons for that, but possibly because welfare reform has made it more worrying for people to leave their homes.

"I think some women are more frightened to leave now because they are worried about money or that they may not get another house because of the cuts in services.

"Cuts in benefits make it more difficult for women to walk out on their old lives. Our outreach services are at capacity all he time now so we have to be very proactive with our fund-raising.

"There will always be women that need the safety of the refuge, but I believe welfare reform is making the hard decision to leave even harder."

Elaine believes cuts in legal aid are also making it harder for women to go to court to get injunctions that will keep their perpetrators away from them. …

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