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Government's Policy on Domestic Violence: Cut and Run

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For a young woman this winter, forced to run out onto the streets quite probably with a young child in her arms, domestic violence advisors were a lifeline. Without help from refuges and charities she would have had to end up back in her home being beaten by her partner.

A report by the Everywoman Safe Everywhere Commission shows that services offering help and counselling to battered women have had their funding cut by nearly a third (31%) since May 2010. As a result, women's refuges are having to close or cut services. And with cuts to housing benefits, there are worries that women will not be able to claim help towards staying in a refuge.

The commission has said that it has already found evidence of young mothers being forced to sleep on the streets because there was no refuge accommodation. Some victims of domestic violence are being placed in mixed-sex hostel wards because of a lack of hostel funding. And with more cuts to the Crown Prosecution Service will mean that there will be fewer convictions of rape and violence.

It also worryingly states that because the police are under pressure to save money, they are only handing out cautions for domestic crimes.

We have heard it over and over again, the government's cuts are having an unfair affect on women. Cuts to Sure Start centres, childcare grants, health in pregnancy grant and working tax credits. Then there is female unemployment which has risen to more than a million.

The only good news that we have seen recently is that the beauty industry is thriving, helped by women working later and an aging population. I hardly think this is something to shout about.

David Cameron is chasing the female vote while having no idea that all of these cuts are having such an effect on our lives that they do and will put us at risk. The government is being reckless with women's lives by letting policies through, such as giving rape defendants anonymity, narrowing the definition of domestic abuse for women seeking legal aid, plans to restrict CCTV and cuts to refuges.

To put it into perspective: two women are killed each week by a current or former partner.

Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime. Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic assistance call - yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police.

I know people that have used women's refuges. I can clearly remember our family friends - a mum and two daughters - fleeing to escape the father. And I know that they couldn't have been more thankful for somewhere to hide, escape, figure out their plan and future.

I have also been with a very angry man. Everyone knew he could fly off the handle and I have no idea of what he might be capable of.

And I was sat on a train only a few months ago as two women shared stories about their experiences of being attacked by man on the street, both on separate occasions.

It is crucial that the government puts a stop to these policies and actually puts actions in place to ensure we live a safe life and don't live in fear to walk the streets or enter our own homes.

To put it in a way that the government might understand - there is a cost to society and the economy. Research shows that the total cost of violence to the services, such as health and social services, and housing) is £3.1 billion every year, while the lost to the economy is £2.7 billion. That's a total loss of £5.7 billion a year in total. I don't think this is going to help the public deficit.

But on top of that, there are hidden costs. Police have to visit the same households time and again. Abused women and children end up in casualty wards and in bed and breakfasts. Cost come from children that have to be put into care, and sometimes many assaulted women are unable to contribute to the workforce.

None of this even touches on the emotional scaring that takes place - we can't quantify that.

This International Women's Day, the government needs to turn all of this around and stop feeding women fluffy, warm lines and posing in fashion magazines like it is pleading for our vote on X Factor. Because right now all we see are cuts and the man in charge running away from core issues.