Housing advice for those suffering from domestic violence or abuse
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.
Domestic violence and abuse can take different forms. Although it can be frightening, it can also be subtle.
- threats and intimidation
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- forced isolation from friends or family
- controlling behaviour
- financial abuse, for example, stopping someone from getting or keeping a job or taking money away.
To find out more about recognising domestic abuse, visit the Women's Aid website.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, first contact the police on 999.
You can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 (for women) or the Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.
Staying in your own home
We recommend not leaving your home without first speaking to a housing options officer, solicitor or other professional. It’s a good idea to stay with friends or family while you think about what to do next. Once you’re out of danger, there may a number of accommodation options.
If it's safe to do so, we may be able to help you stay in your own home. We can increase the security in your home, called target hardening, which can include:
- lock changes
- extra door and window locks and reinforcement
- security lights
- a lifeline
- fences and gates
- a sanctuary or safe room.
You can take legal action to stop domestic abuse or to stop it from happening again and prevent your partner from entering your home. This includes injunctions or orders to protect your children.
You can get advice on injunctions at the National Centre for Domestic Violence on 0800 970 270 or seek advice from a solicitor.
How we can help
If you’ve been a victim of domestic abuse, we can help. Our housing options officers can give you free and confidential advice.
If you or someone you know is being abused, you need to tell us immediately. We will help anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, including:
- anyone who has suffered from honour-based violence linked to religion or faith
- anyone with a disability, or physical or mental health issue
- young people - if you’re aged 16 or 17, we’ll work with relevant organisations to support and house you if necessary.
Our housing options officers will discuss your situation and give you free and confidential advice. They can also:
- help you find a safe place
- give you advice about court orders
- arrange home protection installation
- help you contact local support services
- help you get financial support from the Local Welfare Assistance fund.
Where to get advice
If you're living in a violent or abusive relationship, get advice and support as soon as possible. You can call our housing options team on 01202 123 147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're at risk in your home, or cannot stay there because of domestic abuse, we can find you somewhere safe to live. As long as you do not have any immigration restrictions, we can provide emergency housing if:
- you're pregnant
- you have children with you.
We can only give emergency housing for single people who are vulnerable to abuse.
When making our decision, we look at what has happened to you and what support you already have.
You can ask any council for homelessness help if you’re at risk.
You can get advice from Shelter about your rights before you leave your home.
A personal safety plan is a way of helping you protect yourself and your children.
Other help and support
The Domestic Abuse Project provides safe and confidential support for anyone experiencing domestic abuse or seeking advice for someone else.
They also hold weekly drop-in sessions for those who need advice or have concerns about someone. You can call their 24-hour helpline for more information on 01202 710 777.
Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference
A Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference is a local, multi-agency victim-focused meeting where information is shared on the highest risk cases of domestic violence and abuse between different statutory and voluntary sector agencies.
Read about Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences.
I have nowhere to go
You may be entitled to emergency accommodation such as a refuge. You’ll be able to get temporary accommodation in a safe environment, as well as practical advice and emotional support.
It’s important to seek advice if you’ve been living in:
- a council or housing association property - you should get legal advice for your occupation rights, possibly getting the tenancy under your name; you should contact your landlord as soon as possible and speak to a solicitor
- your own home - you should get legal advice to stop the violent person coming into or near your home
- private rented accommodation - you should tell the landlord what has happened and ask if they are willing to evict the violent person from your home and grant you a fresh tenancy in your name only.
Cause of problems is from outside my home
If someone near you is causing problems, get advice before taking any action. Councils and housing associations can stop their tenants using antisocial behaviour. If the perpetrator is in private rented accommodation, the landlord can take action to evict them.
You can stop an ex-partner from harassing you with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This gives the court power to impose restraining orders like the Occupation and Non-molestation Orders.
If you‘ve suffered from violence, contact the police and ask for the community safety officer.
Making an escape plan
Think about what you would need if you had to leave your home quickly. This could include:
- toys for children, to reassure them
- important phone numbers, so you can get support quickly.
In an emergency, call 999 immediately.
Court orders fall into two categories: non-molestation order and occupation order.
Your partner cannot use or threaten to use violence against you. They cannot "harass, pester or intimidate" you or anyone living with you. This includes making threatening phone calls or texts. They also cannot get someone else to harass you.
This can stop the offender from entering your home, or certain parts of your home. It can also consider who will repair and maintain the home, who will pay the mortgage or rent and who can use and care for things in the home.
If a court order is broken, the offender can be fined or imprisoned in certain circumstances, or the order can be altered to offer you more protection. You should always tell your solicitor if the order is not working.
Support from specialist courts
There are Specialist Domestic Violence Courts in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to deal with high-risk cases.
Video-link facilities mean victims do not have to attend court, and information can be shared with relevant agencies.
Sentencing tries to educate offenders and stop them from reoffending. It aims to make reporting domestic abuse easier and offer more support to victims through the criminal justice process.
These organisations and charities offer support to those suffering domestic violence or abuse: