Domestic Abuse Migration

About this project

If you need urgent help related to domestic abuse please call the National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247 and click here to leave this site (or use the exit button).


Who is behind this project and how can I get in touch?

This map has been created by Nissa Ramsay, as part of a Masters in Digital Sociology at Goldsmiths University, in collaboration with Women’s Aid Federation England.

To contact Women's Aid please visit their 'Contact Us' page.You can also find out more about support services available as well as research and statistics relating to domestic abuse on the Women's Aid website or follow @womensaid on Twitter.

For further information about this specific project you can also contact Nissa Ramsay or follow @nissaramsay on Twitter.

Can I share these maps?

Yes. This map has been designed, to the best of our knowledge, to ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of the data provided. Please share the project with all those who may be interested:

Can I copy or re-publish the maps?

Please do not copy or re-publish the map without contacting Women's Aid. If you do want to do use this map or the data in this report in any way you will need to gain the permission of Women's Aid. Please note that all the information and data presented in this site are copyright of Women's Aid Fedration England, 2016.

How is the map created and can I reuse the code?

This map has been created using D3.js, an open-source JavaScript coding library for data visualisation. All code can be found on Github and is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Please note that all the information and data presented in this site are copyright of Women's Aid Fedration England, 2016. If you do want to do use this map or the data in this report in any way you will need to obtain permission from Women's Aid.

Where does the data come from?

The data has been collected from a range of sources (see map notes and data definitions below) and provided anonymously at an aggregate level for this project by Women’s Aid. They have also overseen how this data is represented within the visualisations and associated analysis and interpretation. If you have any concerns at all about the data or its use, please contact Women's Aid in the first instance.

What efforts have been taken to protect womens' anonymity and the confidential locations of refuges?

At no point in the production of this project has any data been shared or visualised which includes any personally identifiable information or any sensitive location based information. All locations and routes refer to the calculated centres of boroughs and the journeys between them at an aggregate level. They do not refer to the locations of refuges or the actual journeys women make (from their home to a refuge). Most boroughs also have more than one refuge. For further detail please see the map notes and data definitions.

Are there any risks in visualising this data?

To the best of our knowledge, this map has been designed to ensure the this project maintains the anonymity, sensitivity, integrity and accuracy of their data and it’s interpretation for all those implicated by it, including their members and the women they protect. The data is complicated and only provides a partial picture of the difficult circumstances women find themselves in and the context of providing services to keep them safe. The map definitions and the analysis within this site have been composed to mitigate any risks of the data being misinterpreted.

Map definitions

What academic literature and rationale underpins this project?

This is a Digital Sociology project, brings together digital technologies with sociological concerns, to enable new ways of knowing social issues. It is primarily technical in nature and has focused on identifying the most effective ways to visualise journeys and movement spatially. The intention was to communicate the diversity of these journeys, to ensure they were intelligible. It is also framed to allow audiences to exlore and understand the data, to interpret specific conclusions from this. The map, code and this website are the output of the dissertation, produced as a form of 'public' sociology.

This project draws upon previous studies of domestic abuse migration which adopt Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and other methods to analyse and visualise womens' journeys. It differs from these because it's focus is the communication of existing data and the key message that women travel from every borough to every borough in London to seek refuge. For this reason, this project has been undertaken in collaboration with Women's Aid, who have observed the same patterns in their data for many years. This project would not have been possible without their enthusiasm and expertise in the field.


Specific references used within this website include:

A full list of references used in creating this project and writing a disertation can be found online here

Privacy and cookies policy

This site uses cookies and Google Analytics to collect non-identifying information about the use of this site. A cookie is a small file that is sent to your computer or mobile phone that lets us know that you have visited the website before. Cookies collect information in an anonymous form. This means we (Womens' Aid and the site author) don’t know who the information has come from and we don’t make any attempt to find out. We use these cookies this to find out things such as how many people are using the website. We can also see where users have come to the site from and the pages they visited before. We view this information in reports (provided by Google Analytics) so we can see how well the website is working. You can find out more about how cookies work and how to remove these on Women's Aid website.


Special acknowledgements for this project go to Women's Aid for their growing enthusiasm for maps and merticulous dedication to the data they care for, alongside Andy Freeman and Dhiraj Murthy at the University of Goldsmiths who took their time to supervise this project.

Learn More

To find out more about Women's Aid and the research they do click here

You can also follow @womensaid on Twitter and share this project:

Women's Aid Federation of England, 2016

The data and information presented on this site are the copyright of Womens' Aid Federation of England 2016.

Creative Commons License
The code for the Domestic Abuse Migration map by Nissa Ramsay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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A Refuge Space

A refuge provides a safe house when fleeing domestic abuse, with support from specialist-trained staff. A refuge space (sometimes referred to as a ‘bed space’) is a room, which varies in size, with some designated for a single woman, others to accommodate a woman and her children. Women can be placed in a refuge by calling the National Domestic Violence Helpline, which is ran in partnership by Women’s Aid and Refuge.

The refuge space numbers have been aggregated and provided by Women’s Aid from UK Refuges Online, the national database of domestic abuse services and refuge vacancies run in partnership by Women’s Aid England, Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland, Scottish Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid. Further information about refuges can be found on the Refuge Directory)

Please note that these figures change on a daily basis and do not represent the actual number of spaces which are being used or an accurate picture of demand for those spaces. The data was correct as of 1st May 2016 to reflect the end of the financial year reported in this project.

The National Domestic Violence Helpline

The 24hr freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) is available on 0808 2000 247 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is answered by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers who will answer your call in confidence. All calls to the helpline are free from mobiles and landlines. Please see the National Domestic Violence Helpline website for more information.

The number of calls cited includes approximately 95% of calls answered by the helpline, where the caller has identified the borough they currently live in (it is not always possible to capture a woman's location if they are calling in a crisis situation). There are also a number of other helplines across London and as such, the numbers of calls only provides an indication of demand for this type of service.

Arriving to access refuge

Each refuge service in London is asked to enter the details of a woman placed in a vacancy, including their home borough and to provide this to Women’s Aid. However, for 269 women between April 2015 and March 2016, some of the data about their original location is missing, not known or not completed correctly. This includes 77 from inside London.

As a result, whilst the total numbers of women arriving in to a borough to seek refuge are accurate, some of their original locations are not known. This means that specific numbers of women seeking refuge within their own borough or from other London boroughs are likely to be higher.

Leaving to seek refuge

Each refuge service in London is asked to enter the details of a woman placed in a vacancy, including their home borough and to provide this to Women’s Aid. However, for 169 women who moved in to another London borough between April 2015 and March 2016, some of the data about their original location is missing, not known or not completed correctly.

It is important to note that this project has not included data for the numbers of women leaving London to access a refuge space. However, some women will of course leave London to access refuge elsewhere in the UK. This is evidenced by Bowstead 2015 whose analysis of 10,000 refuge journeys concluded that there was an overall net migration of women leaving London.

As a result, the numbers of women leaving each borough to access refuge will most certainly be higer than they appear to be here.

Locations (circles) and movement (arrows)

The circles do not represent the locations of the refuge services or the homes of women accessing them. Instead, they represent a geographically calculated location for each borough (taken from here). For the routes leaving each borough (in blue), the longitude has been adjusted (by +0.025 degrees) for clarity.

The arrows represent the direction of the journey. The timing (when they appear) and speed (how long they take to travel) reflect the distance between the start and end points. The further away the origin, the longer the arrow takes to appear and to travel to the destination. They fade away as they get close to the location (code adapted from here)