Report – Women who have survived domestic abuse and their experiences of temporary safe accommodation in England: January to June 2023 – National office for statistics

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Qualitative research exploring the experiences of 40 women who have survived domestic abuse with current or previous experience of temporary safe accommodation in England.

In this report, “survivors” and “participants” refer to the 40 women who have survived domestic abuse who took part in this research, with current or previous (within the last five years) experience of temporary safe accommodation in England. Some quotes have been edited for language and grammar to improve accessibility, without changing content or meaning.

Main points
Survivors reported staying in a range of temporary safe accommodation (TSA) types for varying lengths of time and with differing levels of support, including refuge accommodation, hotels, hostels and local authority-provided self-contained and shared accommodation.

Survivors experienced barriers accessing and moving on from TSA, including a lack of available accommodation and suitable options, lack of information on accommodation types and available support, having to navigate complex processes, and not feeling involved in decisions affecting them.

In contrast to hotels and mixed-needs hostels, survivors spoke positively about TSA that was most similar to a traditional home setting (for example, a self-contained flat in a refuge with a suitable number of beds and washing and cooking facilities) and with access to high quality emotional and practical support.

Survivors described the importance of both physical and emotional safety throughout their TSA experiences; TSA that did not feel physically safe because it lacked features such as CCTV and security systems to prevent unauthorised entry was described as having a considerable negative impact on well-being, mental health and emotional safety.

Personalised and empathetic practical and emotional support from service providers helped survivors feel that their individual needs and circumstances were taken into consideration during their journeys through TSA; this created a sense of emotional safety and aided their domestic abuse recovery.

Survivors suggested priorities for future service provision, which included offering flexibility in recognising and addressing accommodation and support needs, better availability of accommodation with safe and appropriate facilities for day-to-day living, and better mental health provision for survivors within TSA and after they leave.

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