So you are at the point where you want to gather information about your options. It's always good to talk to people but here is some information that will give you an idea about your rights.
In principle all of the following services are available to both male and female victims. In practice, while there are some refuge places available for male victims of domestic abuse they are few in number and may be difficult to access, so a refuge is more likely to be a realistic possibility for a female victim. If you are a male victim of domestic abuse it may be advisable to talk to one of the specialist organisations listed on our Male Victims page about what options are open to you in your area.
Where will I live?
In relation to housing there are really four options.
- Local Authority housing
- I don’t want to leave – it's my home
So what can the Local Authority do for me?
Under the Housing Act, housing departments of district councils have a statutory responsibility to put a roof over the head of someone who is fleeing domestic violence. This service is open to everyone and not just those who have previously lived in council property.
You can also contact Shelter's Housing Advice Helpline for more advice on your rights.
There is no expectation that you have to have any supporting evidence when claiming homelessness due to domestic violence. In reality, though, it is much easier for the homeless section to accept you as unintentionally homeless if they do have some evidence. This can come in the form of support from someone like your health visitor or doctor.
Where do I go to find out?
You can attend any district council housing office and present yourself as homeless due to fleeing domestic violence.
What is a refuge?
A refuge is a safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence. You can stay there (with or without children) until you decide what to do next. Sometimes women just stay for a few days to give themselves a break and sometimes they use it as a stepping stone to leaving permanently.
When you arrive at the refuge you will be given a Key Worker who will lead you through the obstacles you will have to cope with. They will help and support you all the way.
We have a page giving more details about refuge services and how they operate.
Finding a refuge
The addresses are kept secret, for obvious reasons. You can contact the National helpline (24 hrs) on 0808 2000 247 or call a local helpline:
Aylesbury Women’s Aid
Havering Women's Aid
Oxfordshire / West Berkshire
0800 731 0055
Wycombe Women’s Aid
How will I get there? What about my children? I don’t have any money.
The refuge staff deal with these types of issues everyday, and they will talk to you to find the best solution for your circumstances. They may liase with other agencies on your behalf. Whatever your problems they will work with you to find an answer you are happy with.
What about my pet?
You can’t take a pet into a refuge but there are services that will foster your animal for you until you are back on your feet in a home of your own.
We have a page listing various pet refuge services -- there is likely to be one in your area.
What if I just want to stay with my friends?
A lot of people stay with their friends and they can be a fantastic form of support. If you are still frightened of your partner visiting your friends' address you can get advice from a solicitor about keeping him away by getting an injunction.
It's still good to get some proper advice from a domestic violence specialist and there may also be a domestic violence outreach worker covering your area. If there is no outreach worker in your area you can get help from Victim Support.
Remember whatever you do, you need to make yourself as safe as possible.
How can I make my partner leave?
In certain circumstances it may be appropriate for the Civil Court to consider ordering your violent partner to leave the family home. This is called an occupation order.