6 Month Time Limit
Until recently, women experiencing common assault had a six-month time limit to report their case to the police. We saw a 159% increase in reported cases failing from 2016-17 to 2020-21 because of the time limit, while assaults flagged as instances of domestic abuse had increased by 71%.
The time limit was unjust and unacceptable. At Refuge we know just how hard it can be to report domestic abuse – survivors might not yet have fled their perpetrator, they may fear repercussions, or they might not yet have processed the assault they experienced. It takes time.
So Refuge campaigned along with Centre For Women’s Justice, Women’s Aid Federation of England, and survivor Erica Osakwe for this change. We asked our supporters to add their names in solidarity. And our efforts worked — in October of 2021, the government announced that it intends to extend the time survivors can report a common assault.
The Naked Threat
Refuge launched ‘The Naked Threat’ campaign, which called on the government to make threatening to share intimate images a crime. Previously, a crime was only committed once an image had been shared — meaning women experiencing threats to share intimate images often faced being controlled by their abusers.
Refuge commissioned a survey that found 1 in 14 adults had been on the receiving end of these threats – with young women (1 in 7) being disproportionately impacted. The threats were overwhelmingly made by current or former partners, making it a domestic abuse issue, and one which should be addressed urgently through the imminent Domestic Abuse Bill.
So what did we do? Refuge partnered with former civil servant and Love Island star Zara McDermott, and survivor of domestic abuse Natasha Saunders, to launch the Naked Threat ad campaign, with ad vans that drove past Parliament to get our message across. We also drove supporters to sign a letter to call for a change in the law — and 45,000 Refuge supporters signed up!
Our efforts worked: The government committed to amending the Domestic Abuse Bill to make threats to share intimate images a criminal offence. It was a victory for women and girls, and testimony to the power of campaigning together.