Help for women refugees and asylum seekers facing sexual and gender-based violence

Find out more about sexual and gender-based violence, and how the Red Cross and other organisations can support you.

Get help if you have experienced gender-based violence

If you are an asylum seeker or someone with insecure immigration status who has experienced gender-based violence, we may be able to help you.


This includes support and advice on what to do next, and where to get more help.

We can offer help from the Red Cross, or refer you to other organisations for support.

What is sexual and gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence includes sexual violence and exploitation, forced and child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). It also covers honour-based violence, domestic violence and violence between partners. It can be physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and includes controlling another person's money or things.

Worldwide, over 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict or disasters. Just under half are female. Research shows that as many as 50 per cent of these women and girls have experienced sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).



Call a helpline

To understand your rights and entitlements in this country, you can contact any of the following helplines to receive independent and accurate information:

Before your call

  • Make sure to be in a safe place, and have enough time to complete the call.
  • Make sure your phone is charged.

During your call

  • Ask for an interpreter if you need one.
  • The call should be confidential.
  • You can ask for an advice and your rights on safety, immigration, accommodation, protection and financial support.

After the call

  • You are being very brave for seeking help.
  • Take some time to understand the information given.
  • You are not alone.

Sexual and gender-based violence and the asylum process

Sexual and gender-based violence can happen during all stages of migration: before fleeing the home country, during the journey and in camps or other places where people may stay, including in the UK. 

  • Sexual violence is often not disclosed or not believed as part of the asylum decision-making process. 
  • Refused asylum seekers are more at risk of sexual violence and exploitation. 
  • Perpetrators use insecure immigration status as a method of control. 
  • People at risk need knowledge of their rights and routes to support.
  • Prevention work must engage men and boys, and address gender inequalities. 



Are you in an abusive and controlling relationship or situation?

Do you feel safe?

  • Are you often afraid of someone or a member of your family?
  • Have you ever been hit, kicked, shoved, punched, bitten, choked, spat at or had things thrown at you by anyone?
  • Does anyone demean you, threaten to hurt you or put you down consistently?
  • Has anyone been using fear, intimidation, threats and/or name calling to hurt and control you?
  • Do you have to ask anyone permission to spend your money, going out or socialise with your friends and family members?
  • Does anyone ever threaten to hurt your children or to take them away from you?
  • Does anyone ever touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
  • Are you or do you ever feel pressured to have sex with your partner or someone else against your will?
  • Has anyone ever destroyed your belongings in order to control or scare you?
  • Is somebody deprived you of your passport or other important documents
  • Have you been blackmailed by anyone and are you afraid to seek for help?
  • Are you getting married against your will?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive and controlling relationship or situation.

It is not your fault

Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of gender, sexual identity, age, ethnic groups, nationality, culture, religion, disability, economic status or location. Using abusive and controlling behaviour is never acceptable. You have the right to protection from abuse and violence and access to justice and support in the UK and all European countries.

Remember: you are not alone and you are not the person to blame for the abuse or violence you are experiencing!

You can also download our Staying safe leaflet (PDF) with this information.

Information on staying safe in other languages

Advice on how to stay safe and call a helpline is also available in:


Staying safe leaflet in Arabic (PDF)

Logo for the SWIM - Safe women in migration - project, which shows a drawing of the outline of a woman's face and includes the name of the project.The resources on this page were produced by the Safe Women in Migration (SWIM) project. This two-year project funded by the European Commission brought together seven organisations from five European countries. Together, we strengthened protection for refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant women and girls who have suffered or are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence in Europe.