In a UK television first, the Victoria Derbyshire show broadcast live on BBC 2 from one of our domestic abuse refuges on 23rd April 2018.

For those affected by domestic abuse, making the decision to escape and seek support can be incredibly difficult and can come with many barriers – it is never as simple as ‘just leaving’. One of those barriers is the uncertainty of what will happen once you arrive at a domestic abuse refuge. 

As such, the two hour programme addressed myths and stereotypes and showcased the reality of living in a domestic abuse refuge, while raising crucial awareness of the types of support available.

Victoria spoke to several residents about their harrowing experiences of domestic abuse, their journey to fleeing their relationships and life within the refuge, including one woman who stayed at the refuge as a child but had to return after experiencing abuse as an adult. Victoria also spoke to a resident called Holly*, whose partner violently attacked her, after accusing her of spending ‘too long’ at the hospital after giving birth.

Other guests on the show included Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of UK SAYS NO MORE, our national campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence. Lyndsey spoke further about the support available to those affected – namely the free  Bright Sky app, which provides information and support for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or for those concerned about someone they know.

Judith Banjoko, Area Manager of our domestic abuse services, spoke alongside Lyndsey and reiterated the fundamental role of a refuge is to provide a safe, secure haven for those in need. Our Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) create support plans and offer emotional and practical support, specific to the needs of the individual.

Katie Ghose, CEO of Women’s Aid, spoke about the need for a support service that works for all victims of domestic abuse, while Labour’s Harriet Harman MP and the Conservatives’ Luke Graham MP spoke about the requirements of the Domestic Abuse Bill and introducing effective government policy. Retired Police Officer John Sutherland and HMIC Zoe Billingham discussed police response to victims, and how vital it is for victims to be listened to.

We’re incredibly proud to be able to provide a national platform to the discussion around domestic abuse and to give the public an insight into life inside a refuge. Thank you to Victoria Derbyshire and the whole team behind the show for enabling this to happen and for handling the topic with sensitivity and due care.

Hestia is the largest provider of domestic abuse refuges in London. In addition to our refuge services, our Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) , Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) and floating support teams work to support those at risk of violence and abuse. Last year, we supported 3,657 women and children, helping them to rebuild their lives.

To help the women and children in our domestic abuse refuges, like Holly*, please click here. Your generous donations will allow them to feel comfortable as they start to rebuild their lives.

Missed the show? Watch on BBC iPlayer now.

*Names have been changed.