About women and girls at risk
Too many women and girls who have suffered violence and abuse are deeply traumatised and go onto face multiple problems like very low self-esteem, poor mental and physical health and turning to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms.
For these women, sexual and physical abuse often starts in childhood and goes onto weave in and out of their lives. Many go onto face lifelong problems and end up trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and abuse. Too many who have been abused as children end up homeless or in prison.
As a society we are failing women and girls by not providing protection or intervening early to stop problems escalating. There is not enough appropriate and long term support available to help women and girls turn their lives around.
Extensive abuse and disadvantage
Agenda research reveals one in 20 women have experienced extensive physical and sexual violence as both a child and an adult: that’s 1.2million women in England alone. These women face very high rates of problems like mental ill-health, addiction, homelessness, and poverty.
- More than half have a common mental health condition
- More than half have a disability
- Nearly half are in the lowest income tertile
- One in three have attempted suicide
- One in five have been homeless
- One in three have an alcohol problem
For some of these women abuse, violence, and disadvantage combine meaning they have very complex, overlapping needs. Many end up in very difficult situations, for example there are:
- Approximately 11,000 women in hostels
- Nearly 7000 women sent to prison each year
- 80,000 women involved in prostitution
But we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are likely to be countless thousands more not showing up in statistics.
We are failing women and girls who suffer violence and abuse.
This is costly on a personal level – we are talking about lives ruined.
It is costly to society. Women who have survived these experiences are amazingly resilient and have huge potential to contribute to their communities and families. We are missing out on this.
It is also costly to the public purse. Children being taken into care, use of A&E and other health services, interactions with the police and criminal justice system and other interventions all have significant financial implications.
Many women and girls have children themselves who go on to face similar difficulties. It is in everyone’s interests to break these cycles of disadvantage so that all women and girls can play a full and active part in society.