How is the cost-of-living crisis affecting victims of domestic abuse?
With the cost-of-living crisis causing financial strain for many households, Amy Blaettler discusses how this is having a significant impact on victims of domestic abuse and she points to some useful charities that provide advice, support, and resources.
What is the cost-of-living crisis?
A cost-of-living crisis is when the costs of basic, essential items such as food, energy bills, fuel, and rent increase rapidly in a short period of time, and much faster than average household wages. The effect of this, simply put, is that individuals are forced to spend more money without an increase in their salaries to go along with that spending.
A cost-of-living crisis often goes hand in hand with inflation, which causes the prices of goods to rise, without salaries being adjusted at the same speed, in order to keep up with the increase of these costs. It was recently reported in the Guardian that inflation remains at one of the highest levels in 40 years.
How the cost of living crisis has led to an increase in domestic abuse
With households facing financial hardship as a result, this can lead to increased tension and arguments in the home. Often witnessed by children, the effects of frequent and repetitive arguments can be long-lasting.
Sadly, women are said to be disproportionately affected by the cost-of-living crisis, particularly those who find themselves living in an abusive household or in an abusive relationship. This is even more acute for Black women and women of other ethnic minorities, who experience significantly higher rates of poverty. Women’s Aid surveyed women who have experienced domestic abuse in the past year and the majority (96%) said the crisis has had a negative impact on their financial situation.
Some women face the impossible choice between staying in an abusive relationship, or leaving and experiencing further financial hardship or destitution. Several charities have expressed concern that the situation is making it difficult for women to escape from their abusers.
In some cases, women have been required to return to live with their abusers because they cannot afford to live alone. Almost three quarters of women (73%) living with, or having financial links with, their abuser said that the cost-of-living crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave. This has left them at risk in an unsafe home.
The situation is often compounded by the fact that abusers sometimes cut off their victims from any financial resources (for more information, see our article on economic control). Abusers are relying on the cost-of-living crisis to further justify restricting access to money, leaving victims cut off.
The organisations which help victims in need are facing an increased demand on the services they provide, which comes at a time when the cost of delivering these services is also increasing.
Do you need help?
If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.
The following charities provide a range of advice, support, and more detailed resources regarding domestic abuse:
- Galop – LGBT+ Domestic abuse helpline
- Respect – men’s advice line
- Surviving economic abuse
- Women’s Aid
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.