to end violence against women & girls

For 16 Days of Activism, join us as we share real stories and voices of women and children who have been impacted by domestic abuse and violence as we encourage you to take practical steps towards ending violence against women and girls because #YouKnowHerThrough their sometimes familiar stories, and by highlighting some of the services we provide as a result, we hope to raise awareness and encourage everyone to take simple action towards ending violence against women and girls.

You may not know the full details. You may not even be aware at all. But she is in your circle. She could be your mum or you daughter. She could be your sister. She could be your friend. She could be your colleague. Domestic abuse affects 25% of women at some point in their lifetime so it is highly likely that these stories are the stories of someone close to you, or someone you know.

We hope that you will feel inspired by the stories we share and UNITE to end violence against women and girls, by taking one or all of the actions listed at the bottom of this page.

Sharing HERStories

Please note that names have been changed to protect the identity of individuals. Images and graphics are for illustration purposes only. 



Sarah Everard was walking a short distance home after leaving her friend’s house when she was stopped by off-duty Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens who identified himself as a police officer. He reportedly handcuffed her and placed her in his car before driving her to near Dover where he raped and strangled her, before burning her body and disposing of her remains in a nearby pond.

Sabina Nessa was discovered by a dog walker the following evening. Koci Selamaj, a 36-year-old former delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza, was captured on security cameras behind Nessa near the area where she was killed. He was arrested nine days later and charged with her murder.

Sadly Sarah and Sabina are 2 out of 125 women killed in the year March 2021 to March 2022. Many of those did not make the headlines. In the year prior, 110 women were killed by men. In total, 111 men were implicated in their killings, but only 79 men were found guilty or, or pleaded guilty to the killing of a woman, or otherwise have been held responsible for the killing in the cases where the perpetrator was detained under the mental health act or died by suicide prior to conviction.

Femicide: is a term generally to describe intentional killings of women that are gender-related, to highlight the impact of inequality and discrimination, which have been universally identified as a root cause of violence against women.

Day FIFTEEN – I just thought I was married to a horrible man

I would never have realised it was any form of abuse without The Haven’s Domestic Abuse Awareness training delivered at my workplace. I just thought I was married to a horrible man for twenty years. Learning that my children could be affected by all of this is also something I need to explore with them. What I learned really opened my eyes. I now know the signs and the best ways to respond.

~ Debbie

Safer workplaces: It has been estimated that domestic abuse costs businesses £1.9 billion every year, with over half of those being subjected to it having to take time off as a result. It is crucial that we provide support for employees across businesses of all sizes and part of that support is training. Our training team offer CPD-accredited domestic abuse awareness training to businesses across the UK, as well as bespoke courses and the chance to develop domestic abuse champions. Debbie attended our domestic abuse awareness training arranged by her employer where she disclosed her abuse.


Rebecca’s Story

Rebecca* contacted The Haven after being subjected to abuse for 13 years. She was in a relationship with someone who was very controlling and subjected her to emotional, psychological, and physical abuse even after she left him. He stopped her from seeing their child and moved them to a different school when she reported the abuse.

Coercive control: Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 came into force on 29th December 2015 and created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. Before this offence was introduced, case law indicated the difficulty in proving a pattern of behaviour amounting to harassment within intimate relationships. Coercive control is a repeated pattern of behaviours that can include threats, insults, humiliation, stalking, harassment, isolation and as seen in Rebecca’s case, parental alienation. When it became a criminal offence in the UK in 2015, this meant that police and courts can look for patterns of controlling behaviours rather than specific incidents of abuse or violence. If someone is found guilty of this offence they could go to prison for up to five years, receive a fine, or both.

Interesting resources…

Day THIRTEEN – They made me value myself…

Without The Haven’s helpline I would have been lost. They made me value myself. The person on the other end of the phone had a wonderful way of talking. She was very empathic and if I had a golden star I would have given it to her. This service was a great source of comfort. It is a wonderful service.

~ Yara

Helpline: Historically the focus of our Helpline has been to provide callers with safe housing or community-based support with the additional offering of practical and emotional support. This year, we have received a considerable number of calls from both service users and other agencies looking specifically for other support like our Counselling and Therapeutic Service without requiring accommodation services. Yara was so happy with the service she wanted to give us a golden star!


Leanne’s Story

Leanne* was in the audience at her school while our EmpowHER coordinator delivered the programme. After the session, she was able to disclose the harassment she was being subjected to at school and the abuse she’d faced at home. By having open conversations with young people about gendered norms and stereotypes that are deep-rooted in a lot of our cultural beliefs and patriarchal value systems, we empower them to not only recognise red flags but also to set healthy boundaries and understand what healthy relationships look like.  

Challenging gender norms:  As a lead provider of Domestic Abuse services in the city of Wolverhampton for almost 50 years, we have seen consistently how the power dynamics play out in abusive relationships. It was with this in mind, that our MENgage and EmpowHER programme for students in year 9 and above was created. The programme covers topics like consent and respecting boundaries, misogyny, gender inequality etc., all relating to healthy relationships and the end of violence against women and girls. 

Interesting resources…

Day ELEVEN – I have decided to celebrate my CYP worker as my ‘Hero’

I really enjoyed all of my sessions with the CYP worker and I was very sad when they ended. Thank you very much for making me feel better. I have decided to celebrate my CYP worker as my ‘Hero’ for an assembly presentation at my school. I think she is amazing at what she does and I was lucky to meet her.

~ Dionne

Children & young people:  The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 included several provisions like the implementation of a statutory definition of domestic abuse that recognises all types of domestic abuse and for the first time ever, children who witness domestic abuse will now be recognised as victims in their own right. Many children who have been abused by a parent or have witnessed the abuse of a parent sometimes think that growing up and leaving home will help them move on from their traumatic experiences. Many struggle with making a new life for themselves as the effects of their experiences are often long-lasting and they can transition into adults who are prisoners of their childhood, constantly reliving the trauma that they so desperately want to put behind them. Last year at The Haven we supported over … children across our refuges and … in the community. We do our best to provide them with some stability and to put smiles on their faces, given the circumstances. We provide counselling and play therapy sessions among other things with a dedicated team, trained to support children and young people. We also provide programmes to help mothers in their parenting journey after being subjected to domestic abuse.


Adanna’s Story

Adanna* was 10 years younger than her husband when they were introduced and she was pressured to marry him. Soon after the marriage both he and his family began to control her and abuse her. They monitored her every move. Things got worse after they moved to the UK and she tried to leave him. He threatened to take her back to their home country and told her she would be subjected to female genital mutilation against her will.

Female genital mutilation (FGM): Female genital mutilation involves the partial or total cutting of the female genitals. The procedure is mostly carried out on girls from birth to 15 years. It’s estimated that around 137,000 women have been subjected to female genital mutilation in the UK.

Interesting resources…

10 simple ways you can help


Aoife’s Story

Aoife* left her daughter’s father due to domestic violence and moved in with her mother where she lived with her daughter. The environment quickly became unbearable for her when her mother became manipulative and began to verbally, emotionally and financially abuse. She would take her out loans in her name and expect her to pay.

Financial abuse: Financial abuse involves a perpetrator using or misusing money which limits and controls their partner’s current and future actions and their freedom of choice. Did you know that 8.7 million people reported financial abuse in 2020? In that same year a study from the Victims’ Commissioner of the West Midlands Police reported 44% of domestic abuse victims suffered from restricted access to essential resources (e.g. food, clothing or transport), 33% of abusers denied or prevented the victim from working and 36% of respondents suffered from restricted access to money. The current cost of living crisis is creating opportunities for perpetrators to control their victims financially.

Interesting resources…

Day EIGHT – She’s saved my life

I remember the first time he grabbed me by the neck. I knew I couldn’t get away and if I did, I knew he would come for me. The Haven has really helped me, I can’t believe that there are people who could understand how I was feeling. The Solicitor I was put in contact with through The Haven’s legal drop-in service was very helpful and offered me a huge discount as I am not entitled to legal aid. My support worker is fabulous, I couldn’t have done any of this without her, she’s saved my life. She has helped me plan for my safety, made my new home secure, and is supporting me in court.
~ Emily

Community: We don’t just offer practical and emotional support in a refuge setting. We provide many community services, such as legal help, support with emergency items, and counselling. Women in the community can also access our Free to Transform and Dolphin programmes. Last year we supported 1483 women, children, and young people in the community, one of whom was Emily. Emily was able to use our legal drop-in service and is currently being supported in court. 


Tinu’s Story

Tinu* ran away from conflict in her home country in West Africa, in search of safety and protection after her parents were kidnapped and murdered. Only to be met with violence here in the UK when she started an intimate relationship with a man she thought she had a future with. 

No recourse to public funds:  A person will have no recourse to public funds when they are ‘subject to immigration control’. This means they cannot claim benefits or access social housing. During consultations, we advocated for the Domestic Abuse Act to include protections for migrant women. We believe that policies should not be created at the expense of the safety of migrant victims of abuse, who are vulnerable and have no recourse to public funds. There is a wider need for the immigration status of migrant victims of domestic abuse, to be disconnected from their need for support, so that they can be treated as victims first when they find the courage to disclose and ask for help

Interesting resources…

Day SIX – I feel like I can look forward to the future

I would like to thank you for all the support, understanding, care you have shown me. You have been a massive part of my journey to find me and believe in myself again. I have grown and taken so much from our sessions. I feel like I can look forward to the future. I have received such amazing advice, ideas and strategies to work with to get through the things I have struggled with and found so hard to accept. I know all the help and strength I have taken from our sessions have made me grow and become strong enough to move on and be happy.

~ Mari

Counselling & therapy: We have a well established, well-led counselling and therapeutic team that operates efficiently with
professionalism, adaptability, and a commitment to helping service users with their journey to recovery. Counselling is available in the following languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Pashto (Afghan), Arabic, Somali, Miburi, Swahili, Italian and Turkish. We have developed structured and solutions-focused support programmes that explored empowerment, recovery from trauma, and developing healthy relationships with the
women. These programmes were designed to enable women to identify early warning signs and give them the knowledge necessary for them to make informed decisions to break the cycle of abuse.


Rosie’s Story

Rosie* was carrying her two-month-old baby in her arms when she was attacked by her husband in the presence of her mother-in-law. They were both intoxicated and it wasn’t the first time. Read Rosie’s story, to find out how she almost lost her baby and how The Haven was able to support her.

Substance misuse:  Did you know that perpetrators will often enable substance misuse and use it to further control their victims? We recognise that there is limited provision for women engaging in substance misuse mhile also being subjected to domestic abuse. As a result, some women don’t disclose that they have an addiction out of fear that they will be unable to access safe emergency accommodation. Our substance misuse support worker provides help and support to victims who are experiencing this issue. She helps women to understand their addictions and connects signposts them to the support that is available. 

Interesting resources…

Day FOUR – I opened up more as I became more comfortable.

I contacted The Haven after I was physically and emotionally abused repeatedly by my step-mum. They offered me a space in refuge. At first, I really struggled to engage but I opened up more as I became more comfortable. When I felt safe and I felt like I could trust my support workers, I was able to disclose that I’d been raped a year prior to contacting The Haven. I received support from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) who gave me the guidance that I needed. I also came to realise, through counselling, that I am not to blame for what happened to me.
~ Tilly

Safe accommodation: Our communal accommodations continue to play a critical role in providing safety and support for vulnerable women and children; especially those who are high-risk and in need of emergency support. Last year we introduced a Safe Accommodation Manager who oversees these accommodations and ensures safety remains a priority. 


Fatima’s Story

Fatima* came to the UK to meet a man whom she thought was the love of her life. They had been in a long-distance relationship for a while. They were planning to get married but she quickly realised that he was not who she thought he was, when the sexual violence began.

Sexual violence:  Fatima talks about how she was persistently subjected to “rough sex”. Though she survived her ordeal to tell her story, until very recently, perpetrators like her ex-partner are getting away with murder by claiming they ‘accidentally’ killed their partners during ‘rough sex’. The Domestic Abuse Bill 2020 included an amendment against the rough sex defence which means a perpetrator can no longer claim a victim consented to violence or their own murder since the bill received Royal Assent and became law.

Interesting resources…

Day TWO – He smashed my windows and attempted to get into my house…

He became very possessive, to the point where he’d constantly monitor me – who I was with, where I was going and what I was doing. I felt trapped. I went into refuge to run away from him, but he convinced me to return. I started to realise the impact the relationship was having on my well-being, and mental health. I went on to cut ties with him when I moved into my new home. I called the police several times when he continued to stalk and harass me. On one occasion, he smashed my windows and attempted to get into my house.

~ Catherine

Stalking & harassment: Stalking is a pattern of repeated behaviour that includes unwanted attention, contact, harassment, or other conduct towards a specific person. Harassment is a form of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination which is against the Equality Act is unlawful. Harassment is unwanted behaviour that you find offensive or that makes you feel intimidated or humiliated. It can happen on its own or alongside other forms of discrimination. Stalking and harassment includes cyber stalking – this includes using the internet to get hold of personal information, harassing using social media and making threats to share private information, photos or videos.


Jasmin’s Story

Jasmin* was forced into a marriage with someone who told her he did not want to be married to her. She felt really helpless because she knew that a divorce would have brought shame and dishonour to both families. When her husband became abusive, and the police were called, she found out that he had cancelled her application for right to remain. 

Forced marriage & so called ‘honour-based’ abuse: A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. It is an appalling and indefensible practice and is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. ‘Honour-Based’ abuse can be described as a collection of practices, which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. 

Interesting resources…

10 simple ways you can help

Join the discussion by following the hashtags #youknowher #havenherstories

1. Make a pledge

To call out sexism, wherever you see it, and report all forms of abuse and harassment of women and girls.   

2. Stand up for women in conflict

Sign this petition to protect the freedom and safety of Afghan women and girls.


3. Say no to violence

Do you know what gender-based violence is? Take this Global Citizen quiz to test your knowledge.



4. Amplify our voice

Can you help us reach more people by sharing one of our posts? We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.



5. Be aware

Read our domestic abuse guide here.   

6. No donation is too small

If you can, please donate £5 to ensure our life-changing work continues. Or support Christmas at The Haven this year by clicking here.

7. Early intervention

Can you talk to your children’s school about our MENgage and EmpowHER programmes? To find out more email office@havenrefuge.org.uk.

8. Listen to and believe women

Have you heard Kim’s story? No? Go listen here now!

9. Prevention

Sign this petition to make learning about domestic abuse and coercive control mandatory in sixth forms.

10. Create safer workplaces

Talk to your employer about The Purple Pledge. Visit here to find out more or contact training@havenrefuge.org.uk.

Together we can end VAWG!