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What is it like to stay in a domestic abuse refuge?

You do not need to have experienced physical abuse to stay in a refuge.

Most are for women on their own, or with their children.

Some housing services and safe spaces are for men.

Some refuges are trans inclusive.

Find out how to get a space in a refuge.

Refuges are safe houses

The address is secret to keep the people who live there safe.

Many domestic abuse refuges are ordinary houses. Some are larger and purpose built.

You usually get a room of your own or to share with your children.

You might have to share some rooms like a living room or kitchen with other families.

Some refuge accommodation is fully self contained. You might just share a hallway or stairs.

How do the staff help?

Refuge staff are usually on site during office hours.

They might have an office in the refuge or nearby.

There is usually an 'on call' number for evenings or weekends.

Staff can:

  • help you sort out benefits when you move in

  • offer advice as well as practical and emotional support

  • help you find somewhere safe to live when you leave

How long can you stay?

You can usually stay as long as you need to. Ask the refuge about this when you move in.

You still count as homeless if you live in a refuge.

You can make a homeless application and get housing help from the council while you stay in the refuge.

How much does it cost to live in a refuge?

You will not need money up front.

You need to pay rent but housing benefit could cover most or all of the rent.

You usually have to pay more towards the rent if you're working.

You could also get help with rent on your old home if you plan to return within a year.

Free travel to a refuge

You could get free travel to a refuge.

The refuge can book your train or coach tickets and send them to your phone.

Ask for advice about this from:

What are the refuge rules?

You must not share the address with others as it puts people who live there at risk.

You usually sign a licence agreement which tells you the main rules.

Many women's refuges do not allow boys over a certain age.

Most refuges do not allow pets, but you can look into pet fostering schemes.

Other rules are often worked out by the people who live there. For example, rules around children's bedtimes or use of the washing machine.

Still need help?

Find out about other housing help if you're experiencing domestic abuse.

Last updated: 29 November 2023

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