13 December 2022

Refuge responds to Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s report on migrant survivors

Ruth Davison, CEO of Refuge, said:

“Refuge welcomes the ‘Safety before Status’ report published by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, which addresses the increased barriers migrant survivors of domestic abuse and those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)  so often face when trying to access specialist services. These barriers leave survivors at risk of homelessness and destitution and lock migrant survivors out of accessing the support they need. The report also spells out the economic benefits to the UK economy which could be unlocked if the government acts now.

“Specialist support must be available to all survivors of abuse, and insecure immigration should never be a barrier to accessing it. The government had a real opportunity to ensure the safety and protection of migrant survivors via the Domestic Abuse Act, but did not do so. This puts women at risk and creates further hurdles for survivors, as well as excluding some women from accessing support, protection and safety.

“At Refuge we see how immigration status is often used by perpetrators to further control and harm survivors, with many women afraid to seek support through fear of deportation or other negative consequences. This leads to further exploitation by abusers, and creates an environment in which survivors are afraid to flee. It is urgent that a firewall is established between public services and immigration enforcement, to ensure migrant survivors can come forward with confidence, report the crimes committed against them and access the specialist support they so desperately need.

“As well as ensuring that all survivors can seek safety and access justice, there is also a very coherent economic argument for making these necessary changes. By extending the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC) AND Domestic Violence Indefinite Leave to Remain (DVILR), it will not only help save the lives of women at risk, but will also save the UK economy significant funds. During a cost-of-living crisis, the government could take urgent steps to free up vital funds and protect women in crisis.

“Refuge stands alongside the Domestic Abuse Commissioner in calling for much needed change. Women’s lives depend on it.”