Leaving domestic abuse

Get advice about safety, housing and money if you want to leave a violent or abusive partner or relative.

Cover your tracks

If you don't want anyone to know that you're finding out about domestic abuse, find out more about covering your tracks online from Women's Aid and Men's Advice Line.

Leave this page quickly.

Make a safety plan

Make a safety plan even if you're not planning to leave straight away.

If you're a woman leaving domestic abuse, find out more from Woman's Aid about making a safety plan.

If you're a man leaving domestic abuse, get in touch with Men's Advice Line for sources of help.

Contact Childline if you're a young person and need advice about abuse.

Try to leave when your partner is not at home, so they can't try to stop you.

Try to arrange a place to stay before you leave and get advice about custody if you have any children.

Get help from the council

You can apply for homelessness help from the council if you don't have anywhere to live or are threatened with homelessness.

The council must give you advice about finding somewhere to live. You might be eligible for emergency accommodation while the council makes enquiries into your situation.

Find out more about homelessness if you are facing domestic violence.

Refuges for women

If you're a woman leaving domestic abuse, you can contact the free National Domestic Violence helpline to check if you can get a place in a women's refuge.

Refuges for men

Refuge provision for men is limited. Find out what is available by making a homeless application to the council or by speaking to Men's Advice Line.

Stay safe after leaving

You may be worried that a violent or abusive person will try to find you or continue to harass or threaten to you after you have left.

Take steps to protect yourself from any further abuse, violence or harassment.

To reduce the risk of an abuser finding out your new address you can tell:

  • your children not to tell anyone where you are staying
  • your child's school and let them know who can collect the children from school
  • only trusted friends what has happened and ask them not to pass on your new address or telephone number

You should also:

  • avoid using any joint bank accounts as this may reveal your location
  • make sure your address does not appear on any court papers – your solicitor or refuge worker can advise you how

Try to avoid places where your abuser might expect to find you. Change your routines and reschedule any regular appointments. Change your mobile phone number and avoid social media. Dial 141 before you make a phone call to hide your number from the person you're calling.

If you have to go to a place where you think your partner might find you, try to go with someone else or let someone know where you are going. Choose a safe route where there are other people around.

Money and benefits

It's possible to get financial help as a single parent or a single person.

You can claim housing benefit to help pay for rent. You can claim if you are working or claiming other benefits. You may also be able to apply for tax credits or benefits to help with other living costs.

You must report your change in circumstances if you already claim benefits.

Contact your local Jobcentre Plus or your council's housing benefit office to report changes.

You may be able to get a budgeting loan to help you to pay for essentials.

Help with housing costs

You may be able to get housing benefit to help pay the rent. The amount you get depends on your circumstances including your income, savings and the people in your household.

You may be able to get housing benefit on two homes for a limited period, if you still have to pay rent on the home you have left. If you plan to return to your former home you can get housing benefit on both homes for up to 52 weeks.

Tell the housing benefit office about any changes in your circumstances.

Child maintenance

You can apply for child maintenance from your former partner if you have children.

If you are afraid that your partner may threaten or mistreat you or your child if they are forced to pay child maintenance, get advice before making a claim.

Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area.

Further information about housing rights

  • Print this page
  • Email this page