Domestic abuse victims in UK to receive ‘flee funds’ to escape abusive partners


The payments can be used for rent, study or household essentials to help them start new lives.

Reprinted from Sky News, by Tamara Cohen – 2024-01-09

Regular readers will know that we like to keep abreast of legal developments around the world as well as here in South Africa. Often we find that South African legislation is more progressive, especially in the realm of human rights. We were one of the first countries to sanction same-sex marriage. But we also lead the world in figures we are not so proud of – domestic violence, rape, and femicide. Campaign after campaign does little to move the dial. In the UK an initiative has been introduced to provide tangible, financial assistance to survivors of domestic abuse to enable them to make their escape and start a new life. We recently wrote a series of articles (links below) on the difficulties facing women in violent relationships who want to flee. Fear of reprisal is a big obstacle – many women are killed when they try to leave. But financial dependence is another major hurdle. Economic abuse is a form of domestic abuse that is widely practised by controlling partners. Finding the money for a taxi fare, let alone the first month’s rent in a new home, can be beyond the means of many abused women. We applaud this initiative from the UK and call on our government to introduce a “flee fund”. In a country plagued not only by high rates of gender-based violence but also poverty, this would be a game changer for many women and would save the health system and the police service money in the long run. Most importantly, it would almost certainly save lives. Join us in urging government to set up #safleefund.

Hundreds of domestic abuse survivors will receive cash payments of £2,500* each to help them flee their tormentors, under a new initiative.

The £2m scheme, which launches this month, is described as a “lifeline” for women who can’t flee – or are forced to return to – abusive relationships because they cannot afford essentials.

The new scheme funded by the Home Office and delivered by Women’s Aid charities, will see these “flee funds” rolled out across England and Wales, and offers an additional £2,500 payment to pay for a rental deposit or bills.

The safeguarding minister, Laura Farris, told Sky News: “The most common reasons preventing people leaving a relationship are a lack of money, the strong fear of reprisals or being found in the future and concern about their kids – can you take them with you, how are you going to pay for everything?

“The point of this cash injection is to give them the security and confidence to make that first move to leave the relationship, and then a more substantial amount to get back on their feet, as they pay for those first few months of rental accommodation and look for a job.

“No government has done this before.** Of course, we’re going to have to see how it works and it may be that we need to increase funding.”

*About R60,000.

**This is not quite true. The Scottish government introduced a similar initiative last year. Scotland has its own Parliament which makes laws on matters devolved from the UK Parliament to Scotland, such as health, education, roads, and policing.

If you are experiencing domestic violence

SD Law & Associates are experts in family law with deep experience of helping women escape abusive partners. We can serve a protection order on a controlling partner, connect you to support services, and make sure you and your children are safe.

At Cape Town Divorce Attorneys, we understand how deeply distressing abuse can be. Contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email for a confidential discussion.

Further reading – our series on leaving an abusive relationship safely:

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