More children and women in refuges

The number of children fleeing with their mothers to domestic
violence refuges in England increased by almost 8 per cent last
year, according to new research.

Between April 2003 and March 2004, 23,084 children stayed in
refuges – an increase of 1,619 on the previous year – according to
the Survey of Domestic Violence Services, published last week by
charity Women’s Aid.

Lee Miller, training and consultancy manager for mental health
charity Young Minds, said witnessing or overhearing domestic
violence and the upheaval of moving to a refuge could have a huge
impact on a child’s mental health.

He said witnessing domestic violence could cause post-traumatic
stress disorder later in life and called for all affected children
to have access to mental health support.

“They are moving away from all of their community – moving from
school, from their friends to completely new environments – so it’s
a huge upheaval,” Miller said. “All of these factors will increase
their risk of mental health problems.”

The number of women using refuges also increased 8 per cent to
18,569. Almost 250,000 women and children used a range of domestic
violence services including outreach, drop-in centres and floating
In London, the Metropolitan Police claim that murders involving
domestic violence have fallen from 47 in the year up to March 2004
to 23 in the past 11 months.

The Met attributes this fall to a new risk assessment system
that helps officers identify the factors which might precipitate an
attack. It hopes the scheme will be rolled out across the

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