Staying in a home where you are facing domestic violence

If you are facing domestic abuse or violence, there may be steps you can take to make your home safer to stay in.

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.

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Call the police

Call 999 in an emergency.

Do this if someone threatens you or is violent towards you. The police will visit and may arrest them.

If the police charge them with a criminal offence, the abuser can be held in custody or be given bail on the condition that they don't go near you.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decides later if there is enough evidence to prosecute your abuser.

Get legal advice

Get legal advice if:

  • you have a joint tenancy with your abuser
  • the property is jointly owned
  • you are married or in a civil partnership

You may need to get an occupation order to legally exclude your abuser.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre that can help you.

Take steps to make your home safer

You could be experiencing domestic abuse from someone you previously lived with. This could be a former partner, husband, wife or civil partner, or a parent or a child.

Domestic abuse includes violence, threats, abuse or controlling behaviour.

If you want to stay in your home, you can take steps to make your home safer to live in. You could:

  • change the locks on all doors and put locks on windows
  • ask your neighbours to tell you or call the police if they see your abuser nearby
  • install alarms, CCTV and security lighting
  • change your mobile phone number and make your home telephone ex-directory

You may also be able to create a sanctuary room in your home with a panic alarm and reinforced door.

Contact your local police station and tell them that you have been a victim of domestic abuse. If you have already been to court give them a copy of any injunction the court made, especially if it has a power of arrest attached. This makes the police aware that they must respond quickly to any call from you.

The police can give you further advice on security measures.

Contact the housing options team at your local council as they may be able to help you with this.

Find your local council.

Apply for an occupation order to exclude an abuser

Occupation orders are court orders that extend or restrict a person's right to occupy a home. They can give you the right to stay in the family home or exclude the abuser from the home.

Occupation orders can also have a power of arrest attached. This means that an abuser who has been excluded from the home can be arrested if they try to break in. They can be given a custodial sentence or fined for breaching the order.

An order only lasts for a limited time and doesn't guarantee your safety. You will need to take further legal action to decide who stays in the property in the long-term.

Get advice from a family law solicitor about occupation orders.

Contact the Law Society for details of solicitors in your area. Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre that can help you.

End a joint tenancy to remove an abusive partner

You can end a joint periodic tenancy (one that's not for a fixed-term) by giving a valid notice to quit to your landlord.

But giving notice ends your rights to live in your home and the rights of your joint tenant.

Before you do this, ask the landlord if they will grant you a sole tenancy when the joint tenancy ends. Get this agreement in writing.

Find out more about ending a fixed-term tenancy and ending a periodic (month to month) tenancy.

Get advice before giving notice.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre that can help you.

Use a council's sanctuary scheme

Your council may have a sanctuary scheme that provides:

  • advice on excluding an abusive or violent person from your home
  • an assessment of the risk to your safety if you remain in your home
  • improvements in the security of your home such as installing a safe room

These schemes usually provide ongoing support and someone to contact in an emergency.

Contact your local council for further information.

Get help with abuse from outside your home

Get advice to help you decide what action you can take if you are in danger of violence resulting from neighbourhood problems.

Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area. There are a number of different ways it might be possible to solve the problem.

If the violent person lives in rented accommodation, you could contact their landlord. They could decide to take action against the violent person.

Most landlords can evict a tenant who is violent or abusive. Councils and housing associations can also stop antisocial behaviour by their tenants. They can get a court injunction to prevent the violent person from coming near you and your home.

If the violent person is a home owner, you may be able to take legal action against them yourself. Get legal advice to help you with this.

Contact the Law Society to find a legal adviser in your area.

Get homelessness help if it's not safe to stay

It is up to you to decide if it is safe for you to remain in your home.

You can make a homelessness application if it's not safe for you to stay. Some people are entitled to emergency accommodation.

The council may suggest improving security in your home as an alternative. Don't be persuaded to stay if you don't feel safe.

Get advice if the council says you made yourself intentionally homeless by leaving.

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

Find out more about leaving domestic abuse.

Further help and advice

Find more information about domestic abuse from:


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