Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Priority need

At risk of domestic abuse

You always have a priority need if you're homeless because of domestic abuse.

The council must give you emergency housing if you need it.

You can ask the council for help to move somewhere safe even if you need to plan for this and are still living at home.

Show this page to the council officer if they say they cannot help.

What counts as domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is usually carried out by a partner or ex partner, or by relatives.

You do not have to live together for it to be domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse can be:

  • physical or sexual abuse

  • violent or threatening behaviour

  • someone controlling you or making you do things you do not want to

  • psychological or emotional abuse

  • financial abuse

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

Proof of domestic abuse

The council should not ask for evidence of domestic abuse when you first ask for help.

A housing officer can look into your situation but they should not approach your abuser or do anything that puts you at risk.

If you say it is okay, the housing officer can speak to:

  • your friends or family

  • domestic abuse support services

  • social services, health professionals or the police

Do not feel pressured to agree if you think it could put you at risk.

You are homeless if you or a family member are likely to experience abuse where you live.

The council must not demand police reports or proof of violence before they help.

Help to talk to the council

You can take a friend to help you explain things.

Domestic abuse charities have advisers who could:

Find domestic abuse charities and helplines including services for women, men, LGBTQ+ people and people experiencing honour based abuse or forced marriage.

Find a place in a refuge

Refuges might offer extra support and their address is usually kept secret.

Most refuges are for women and their children.

Some services are trans inclusive and a few are for men.

These free services run by charities offer support and could help you find a refuge space:

If the council say you are not in priority need

You always have a priority need if you're homeless because of domestic abuse.

Last updated: 28 September 2023

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help