450 women and 110 children turned to women’s refuge
The figures are largely similar to 2019. In both years, the majority of women sought refuge to escape their current or former partners.
Sigþrúður Guðmundsdóttir, refuge manager, says the women have usually suffered under terrible conditions: “A lot has happened by the time a woman decides to come and stay at Kvennaathvarfið. But last year was all so strange and surreal that it is strange to see the figures fairly normal and that there was little that stood out when it came to demand.”
In addition to the long-and short-term residents, a further 312 women visited the shelter for interviews or support without staying overnight, and that was an increase on the year before. A total of 450 women stayed or visited for interviews in 2020.
90 percent of the women had been victims of psychological abuse, 53 percent of physical abuse, 44 percent were victims of economic abuse, and 39 percent of sexual abuse. 26 percent of the women had received death threats and 37 percent said their children had been abused.
Around 18 percent of the women returned from the shelter to their abusers, which was a small increase on 2019. Data suggest that women from outside the European Economic Area were the most likely to return to their abusive partners and that Icelandic citizens were the least likely. 32 percent moved from the shelter to a new home, while 15 percent moved in with a relative or friend.
“Recent years have been such that our women have had a hard time finding rental housing. They have just not been popular on the rental market, though now the pressure has come off. There is a lot of available housing, it’s fair to say. So they have found it easier to find housing,” Sigþrúður says.
The 110 children that stayed at the shelter last year were from several weeks old up to 16 years. Their average age was five. “Children can be so unbelievable. They also have good times at the refuge, though it is often also difficult.”