Student Lidia Mycielska O’Malley has raised more than £200 for Stroud Women’s Refuge by baking and selling cakes and the Women’s Refuge cookbook, Inspire, at her school fair.
Lidia, who goes to the Acorn School in Nailsworth, said, “I had been wanting to do something to help women who are domestic abuse survivors. I feel really strongly that in 2022 we should not be seeing the appalling levels of discrimination and violence against women and girls, that is still so pervasive in our society.”
Taking influence from the recent local Reclaim the Night marches, Lidia went on to say, “I’ve been so inspired by local activists and by reading, listening to and watching amazing women who fight inequality and injustice across the world. I wanted to do my bit, and I’ve been motivated by this to do more.”
This comes at a time when domestic abuse survivors are particularly vulnerable. Women’s Aid recently surveyed their client base. Almost all survivors (96 per cent) responding had seen a negative impact on the amount of money available to them as a result of cost of living increases.
Two thirds (66 per cent) of survivors said that abusers are now using the cost of living increase and concerns about financial hardship as a tool for coercive control, including to justify further restricting their access to money.
Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of women living with and having financial links with the abuser said that the cost of living crisis had either prevented them from leaving or made it harder for them to leave.
Stroud Women’s Refuge quoted one of their clients in their recent newsletter and highlighted the issue for people fleeing domestic violence at this time: “As a single parent, the cost-of-living crisis is having a big impact – everyday costs are rising and it’s a constant struggle to make my money work. I’m always anxious in case of unexpected expenses and the school holidays coming up mean more worries about how to afford to keep the cupboards full and keep my child entertained. It seems like there’s no end in sight to this crisis.”
The economic conditions for survivors to leave their perpetrators are already wholly unfavourable, with finances often acting as a barrier to leaving an abuser. Perpetrators often control household income, which makes it harder for survivors to access the money they need to flee. Economic abuse (where perpetrators limit a survivor’s ability to work or access education opportunities, and where perpetrators run up debts in survivors’ names without their knowledge or consent) is also a huge barrier to leaving. Survivors are already facing making the impossible choice between fleeing into homelessness and poverty or staying with an abuser. With the basic cost of living rising, it is becoming increasingly difficult for survivors to flee to safety.
For nearly 50 years Stroud Women’s Refuge has been there to support women from all over the UK who have been forced to leave their homes due to domestic abuse. Shockingly, it is now Gloucestershire’s only women’s refuge.
To donate, visit https://www.stroudwomensrefuge.org/ways-to-give/