Panic rooms

The British government puts up funds for domestic-violence victims to build safe rooms in their homes.

Published December 20, 2006 6:12PM (EST)

A new plan just unveiled in Britain will provide money to victims of domestic violence to create "safe rooms" in their homes, where they can call the police and be protected until help arrives.

The so-called sanctuary scheme will only be open to women whose abusive partners no longer live with them. Reinforced with locks and equipped with closed-circuit television and panic alarms to contact the police, the rooms are meant to provide a sense of security to women who fear that their abuser will seek them out -- and give them confidence to stay in their own homes rather than turn to temporary housing.

According to Meg Munn, the minister for women and equality, "it's been tested in some areas, and 90 percent of women are satisfied with that and it's enabled them to feel safer and lead a more normal life."

Perhaps that's true, and for women who have managed to separate from their abusers, this seems like a very useful development -- but it strikes me as sad and upsetting that in Britain, in 2006, a "normal life" for some women means building bunkers in their homes.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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