“Two women a week are murdered by a partner. My job is to prevent that”

A day in the life of a Women’s Aid worker

End violence against women! Photo by Louise Whittle

End violence against women! Photo by Louise Whittle   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

An independent domestic violence adviser in Wales

I come in to the office at 8.30am as usual. I am the first one in, so I open up.

I make myself a cup of tea to calm my nerves before checking my emails. I am always a bit worried about what I will find.

Two women a week are murdered by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. My job is to try to prevent that, but there is only so much I can do.

All the women I support are at high risk of domestic homicide. As I come in to work every morning I can only hope they are OK.

Today I am on ‘duty’, which means it is my job to deal with any new women who contact us looking for emergency accommodation or for general advice on what to do. I call the refuge to check if we have space.

If not I will have to refer people to the council homeless department or for refuge outside of our area (there is a national refuge database). Unfortunately there is a big shortage of refuge places. There are more animal shelters in Britain than refuges for women and children.


It turns out that we do have one room available in our refuge for tonight. It does not take long until someone calls wanting it, a woman who says she is too frightened to leave the house, so we agree to do an assessment over the phone. In the end we refer her to another area as our refuge is close to her house, so she would not feel safe there.

This means that when the next person calls we do have space. She has been in an abusive relationship for eight months.

Her children are now in care due to this. Her and her abuser were evicted from their flat after he trashed it and they have slept rough for two months.

He made her shoplift to fund his heroin addiction, giving her a criminal record. He is in prison on remand, but could soon be released.

This is her chance to escape. We accept her and the refuge is now full. It is 2.30pm and I have not had lunch.

Another woman comes into our office, but our room is gone so she will have to leave town or go to a homeless hostel. This is the reality for many women across Britain.

There is a constant race for refuge spaces and not everyone makes it. My day is coming to an end but tomorrow we start all over again.