Press Release

5 January 2021

Domestic Abuse Bill returns, Refuge calls for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime

Refuge calls for threats to share intimate images to be made a crime, as the Domestic Abuse Bill returns to the Lords.

Refuge, the largest specialist domestic abuse service provider in England, is calling for the Domestic Abuse Bill to include the provision to make threatening to share intimate images and films a crime.

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Chair of Refuge said:

“We are delighted that the Bill returns to parliament today for its second reading in the House of Lords. As a priority, Refuge would like to see the Bill incorporate a simple change to the law, which would better protect women and girls from image-based abuse. At the moment, while sharing intimate images without consent is a crime, threatening to do so is not. This is an issue affecting millions of women and girls up and down the country.

Refuge research found that 1 in 14 adults in England and Wales had received such threats, with 1 in 7 young women impacted. 72% of women who received these threats experienced them from a current or former partner – making this a clear domestic abuse issue. The government has the perfect legislative vehicle to make this change with the Domestic Abuse Bill, and we hope they will seize this opportunity.

Today’s second reading is a hugely important moment and one which Refuge hopes the government will seize as there is still so much more to be done”

In addition, Refuge is campaigning for the Bill to ensure:

  • That Universal Credit advances are paid as grants not loans to survivors of domestic abuse, and that they are paid, by default, into separate accounts. This is vital for women who are fleeing an abusive partner and who need financial independence from perpetrators.
  • That the Bill carries a gendered definition of domestic abuse. The overwhelming majority of victims of domestic abuse are women and the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are men. The Bill must be grounded in this reality.
  • That migrant survivors, often locked out of accessing domestic abuse services due to their immigration status and having ‘no recourse to public funds’, are able to access they support that they need.
  • That the funds made available for the legal duty to fund refuges are ring-fenced for specialist refuge provision and are sufficient to ensure that no woman or child is turned away.

The Bill’s journey through the House of Lords is the final chance to make these crucial amendments, and Refuge is working around the clock to help ensure the Bill is as bold and transformative as it has the potential to be.

Refuge is delighted that more than 90 peers have registered to speak in today’s debate. This demonstrates the support that exists for a strong and robust Bill that helps save and change lives.

Women and children cannot wait – the time to act is now.


Notes to Editors

Refuge supports more than 7,000 women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. With a sharp rise in women seeking support during lockdown, and as the country is moved into a third lockdown the need to address the response to domestic abuse has never been greater.

Supporters can join Refuge’s campaign to end the Naked Threat here.

Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm Monday to Friday). For real time automated guidance on how to secure your personal devices Refuge has a Tech Safety Tool at