Help if you’re homeless: domestic abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence. It includes:

  • physical or sexual abuse

  • violent or threatening behaviour

  • controlling or coercive behaviour

  • economic abuse

  • psychological or emotional abuse

Domestic abuse is usually carried out by a partner or ex-partner. It can also be carried out by relatives. You do not have to be living in the same home for it to be domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, education, income or class.

But most victims of domestic abuse are women. For this reason, some domestic abuse services and most refuge spaces are for women and their children.

Get help from the council's homeless team

You count as homeless if you're at risk of domestic abuse in your home.

This means you can make a homeless application to the council if you cannot stay in your home or need help to deal with domestic abuse.

From 5 July 2021, you also have an automatic priority need if you're homeless because of domestic abuse. This means the council must provide emergency housing if you need it.

You can approach any council you choose and you cannot be referred back to an area where you're at risk of domestic abuse.

You can only get help from the homeless team if you meet the immigration conditions.

Proof of domestic abuse

The council will look into your situation but you should not be required to provide evidence of domestic abuse when you first ask for help.

The council must not approach your abuser.

With your permission, the council can speak to your friends or family, social services, health professionals, domestic abuse support services or the police to confirm your situation.

Help to talk to the council

You may find it difficult to talk to a housing officer about what you're experiencing. It can help to talk to a domestic abuse charity first.

This page lists several domestic abuse charities including specialist services for women, men, LGBTQ+ people and people experiencing honour based abuse or forced marriage.

Domestic abuse charities have trained advisers and advocates to help you talk to the council.

Find a place in a women's refuge

You might be able to get safe housing and support in a women's refuge.

Contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge.

0808 2000 247
Free 24 hour helpline

You may be able to get free rail travel to take up a place in a refuge. Ask the National Domestic Abuse Helpline or the Women's Aid live chat service about this.

Contact a charity or helpline

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
0808 2000 247
For women

Men's Advice Line for male victims of domestic abuse
0808 801 0327
For men

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline
0800 999 5428
For LGBTQ+ people

Karma Nirvana
0800 5999 247
For victims of honour based abuse or forced marriage

London Victim and Witness Service
0808 168 9291
London only

Rights of Women
020 7251 6577
Free legal advice for women including family law and immigration advice

Get advice in a safe space

You can go to any Boots or Superdrug store and ask to use their consultation room or 'safe space' at the healthcare counter. Other pharmacies and TSB bank are also participating in this scheme.

In the consultation room you can find specialist domestic abuse support information and can contact a domestic abuse charity.

Find a safe space to access advice on UK SAYS NO MORE.

Ending an existing tenancy

You do not have to make a decision about your tenancy immediately if you cannot stay there because of domestic abuse.

If you get universal credit or housing benefit, you can usually get help to pay the rent on both the emergency housing, and the home you have left if you would like to return when it's safe.

Get legal advice on an injunction

You may be able to get an injunction or occupation order to stop an abuser from entering your home, or to remove an abusive partner or ex partner if they will not leave.

Women experiencing domestic abuse can complete a self referral form on the FLOWS website to find a legal adviser to look at your options.

To get an injunction you can:

Find out more about injunctions on GOV.UK

Last updated: 6 July 2021

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