Support is available during coronavirus. You can still leave your home if you’re at risk or unsafe. Do not wait for something to happen. This could be physical or emotional abuse, threatening or controlling behaviour.
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Contact a domestic abuse organisation to get advice about your situation. Try calling when you are alone. They will talk you through your options for leaving your home or see if you can stay in your home safely. You can contact:
Phone numbers starting in 0808 and 0800 are free. Some lines may have fewer staff to answer calls at the moment. Leave a voicemail or try calling again if you do not get through.
Warning Do not return home if you leave
It may be unsafe for you to return home if you decide to leave. If you have any doubts, contact a domestic abuse helpline to talk through your concerns.
Accessing short-term emergency housing
There are 2 ways of accessing short-term emergency housing:
through a referral to a refuge
with help from your local authority
The accommodation available may not be in your area, and you may have to move away.
If you are renting and worried about your contract, it's best to leave your home first. Support officers can help you sort out your tenancy later.
Referral to a refuge
A refuge is safe accommodation for people experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse. If you're in this situation, call a domestic abuse organisation or helpline. An adviser will help you find a refuge to contact and may contact them for you.
The refuge will help you make a plan to leave your home safely. They may also be able to help you move. You can stay in a refuge while you look for longer-term housing.
Support from a local authority
If you feel physically or emotionally unsafe at home, you are legally classed as ‘homeless’. This means local authorities must help you find safe accommodation or help you be safe in your home. This can be your local authority or one in another area.
You must meet certain residence conditions for them to support you. There are different conditions for:
Accommodation options are limited, but councils must try to take your needs into account. This includes access needs and any health or care services you use regularly. You may be moved to another area to avoid seeing the person who abused you, and may initially stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast. But the local authority has a duty to help you with long-term housing.
The council may not help further if you reject the accommodation they offer. If it's unsuitable for you, it's best to accept the offer and then get legal advice.
If you decide to stay in your home, you can still access support. It may be possible to get an injunction, which is a court order to protect you and your children from the person who abused you. It decides who can stay in the home and who needs to leave.