A mum of five trying to flee her abusive partner was told to travel 300 miles to Glasgow to seek refuge – or temporarily give up one of her children.
The 29-year-old from Birmingham, who has two sons and three daughters, feels she is being punished for having a large family after being told the nearest safehouse she could stay in was in Scotland.
Her eldest daughter, aged 12, would have been required to live with other family members if she had accepted it.
And when that house was snapped up by another family before arrangements could be made, the Women’s Aid charity said the only suitable accommodation they could provide was hundreds of miles further north in Glasgow.
The lack of available local refuges has left her feeling like a “prisoner” in her housing association property, where she says she and her kids aged between 10 months and 12 years old live in terror.
Her “emotionally and financially abusive” ex-partner continues to harass her, even sleeping outside her home.
The mum told Birmingham Live : “Even though we see a lot about domestic violence, we see a lot about how [the Government] is trying to do the best to reduce it and to help, but actually has anyone acknowledged the problem – do you know how hard it is to get a refuge space if you have more than three children?
“I did attempt refuge on a few occasions and there’s no room for a family of my size.
“They tried to book me in Glasgow the other day, because it was the only refuge they had which was self-contained and it was actually only meant for four children, but they could have given it me for five because my son shares a bed with me.
“If you have quite a few children it makes it more difficult. It’s not the fact they just don’t have the space, they don’t have many for a woman and five kids. Them not having a refuge space has left me in danger.”
The woman also tried to speak to Birmingham City Council, but claims the authority could only offer her rooms in hotels where she feared her kids would brush shoulders with “drug addicts and convicts”.
She added: “We aren’t going to be able to have a peaceful Christmas.
“My children are bolting the door after them and stuff. They’re obviously feeling the impact of it.
“Say if I was relocated, I wouldn’t have to live in that stress and fear and put up with the emotional strain and everything else that is ongoing.
“Women’s Aid overall have been absolutely brilliant and supportive with me. They can’t magic up a house for me, they can’t magic up a refuge space for me.
“It would be nice just to be able to enjoy the Christmas period, just being able to live a normal life and not feel like I’m a prisoner in my own home.
“I don’t want to put women off thinking they can’t ask for help, that is not what I want.
“The Government can fund certain things but can’t fund saving people’s lives.
“Yet they have empty properties, why don’t they have some of them on standby for women victims of domestic violence who they can’t put in one room?”
A spokeswoman for Women’s Aid said: “In terms of housing, there is a national shortage of social housing, and this has a knock on effect on anyone looking for suitable properties.”
In response to the issue, the Government said it is taking ‘comprehensive action’ to support domestic abuse victims who flee their home for safety.
It has also introduced new council duties to ensure victims can be supported in safe accommodation.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We are taking comprehensive action, backed by £125 million, to support domestic abuse victims so those who leave their home to escape have somewhere safe to go.
“This is alongside a £4.2 million Respite Room pilot, providing safe housing and support for victims at risk of sleeping rough.
“We’ve also introduced new duties on councils to ensure all victims and their children can be supported in safe accommodation.”
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