School of Law

Domestic Violence: The Fight For Refuge

Jonathan Hollingsworth, LLB Law student: 

The Queen Mary Pro Bono Society recently welcomed domestic violence charity, Refuge, to host a heartfelt lecture detailing the workings of the charity and the inspiring efforts of their independent legal advocates.

23 September 2014

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It can be hard to identify what domestic violence is and at what point a person becomes a victim. Paula McGoveney said that 'domestic violence exists whenever a victim is afraid of the reaction of her partner, in this case an executioner.' Domestic violence was highlighted to take many forms and not just the physical abuse that remains so prominent in our thoughts.

What costs does domestic violence have on society?

Refuge supporter, Wendy Turner Webster recounted her conversation with the charity's CEO saying that 'considering the impact on the economy and the blows to our social fabric caused by domestic violence, isn't it strange that it is left down to charity to pick up the pieces?' Domestic violence can destroy a person's confidence, self-belief and their perceived value yet there is little help done to ensure they can carry on and move on. Charities such as Refuge help mentor and guide victims to get 'back on their feet' and move forward creating a positive future for themselves.

In most cases it is hardest for victims to move away from their abuser. With time victims become too scared or used to the abuse that they don’t believe anyone can help them or that they can't escape. Refuge gives these victims immediate help, providing safety and shelter. Melissa Altman explained that a 'team of Independent Domestic Violence Advocates provide their clients with information right away, so they know exactly what they need to do. They help them plan around their safety and find another house once perpetrator is released from custody'.

The lecture also contained many personal stories and information about what we can do as students to show our support. It is with pride that Queen Mary's students actively support Refuge through fundraising and will continue the fight against domestic violence.