Women from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who seek shelter from an abusive relationship are more likely than other women to return to their spouses.
According to research conducted by the Women’s Shelter, 43% of non-EEA women who sought sanctuary from an abusive relationship returned to their spouses. Most of them have Icelandic partners. By contrast, only 25% of EEA women returned to their spouses after coming to the Women’s Shelter.
Hildur Guðmundsdóttir, an anthropologist at the Women’s Shelter, said that non-EEA women often expressed worries about losing their residence permits. These women also often have children, and think primarily of wanting to be there for their kids rather than away from an abusive spouse.
About 70% of EEA women had spouses of the same nationality, while only 16% had an Icelandic spouse. By contrast, 60% of non-EEA women had Icelandic spouses and only 21% had partners of the same nationality.
There was a bit of a silver lining in this, however: 51% of non-EEA women would move on from the Women’s Shelter to new circumstances, and 14% would return to a different situation in their previous home.
Nonetheless, the figures show the need to provide extra safeguards and resources for non-EEA women seeking to escape abusive relationships.
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