It is well documented that lockdown saw a steep rise in domestic abuse cases. Sanctuary Hosting and Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Service (ODAS) saw this reality first-hand through the experiences of several women in spring 2020. Working together, these two organisations were continually astounded by the resilience and strength of the women who fled domestic violence during a global pandemic, a time when support from friends and family was largely closed off. The capacity of organisations to make a great change for the safety and wellbeing of women is remarkable and showcased in the story below.
One lady, we will call her Anna, was helped to escape her home after the police were called. Anna was placed in a hotel. The next day, Sanctuary Hosting received a call from ODAS to see if she could be found safe shelter with a volunteer host. A video call was set up with Anna the same day. Thanks to her resilience, and the hard work for her ODAS advocate, an interpreter and Sanctuary Hosting staff, Anna shared the details of her situation, a little about her past and her hopes for the future. With this information, Sanctuary Hosting set about finding her a host to stay with. Her caseworker at ODAS worked with her to make a safety plan to keep all involved safe and connected her to a solicitor.
The next day, Sanctuary Hosting arranged a taxi and Anna, just 24 hrs after she had fled her home, arrived at her hosts’ home. While initially nervous, as days passed Anna began to enjoy the garden and space, and tranquility of the rural home.
Thanks to legal aid, she was told she could apply for public funds, and then move to a refuge but this would take 2 weeks. After 10 days, the solicitor let her know she could now apply for public funds. Without delay, ODAS set about applying for a refuge space for her. One was rapidly found, and she prepared to move again. Anna left the host’s house feeling cared for and supported.
Recognition of the fortitude and resilience of these women, and the agencies that are there to support, is something to celebrate today on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25th November 2020.