If you have to leave home because your partner is behaving in an abusive or threatening way towards you, you may want to stay at a women’s refuge. Or, if you apply as homeless, the council may arrange emergency accommodation in a refuge.
Note: Most refuges do not accept men. The Men’s Advice Line provides support and information for men experiencing domestic violence.
Who can go to a refuge?
Any woman who is being abused can go to a refuge for safety. You don’t have to have children to get a place in a refuge, and you don’t need to have left your partner permanently. Some refuges do not accommodate older male children, but they will be able to advise you of your options if you do have a male child.
Where will the refuge be?
The addresses of refuges are kept confidential to protect residents from abusive partners. If you want to get right away from your partner, you can ask your local women’s group to find you a place in a refuge in another area. You may have to stay in another area if there are no places in your nearest refuge.
How do I get into a refuge?
There are several ways in which you may be able to get a place in a refuge:
- telephone the Freephone 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 8010 800 or Shelter Cymru’s advice and support services on 08000 495 495. An adviser will do their best to find you a place in a refuge that suits your needs, or will help you sort out somewhere else safe to stay if there are no places available
- the police or social services may be able to refer you
- the local council may be able to refer you, or may arrange for you to stay in a refuge as emergency accommodation if you make a homelessness application.
Be aware that you may not be able to get a place in a refuge straight away, as there can be a high demand for places, and they are limited. If you need to leave straight away, can’t get a place in a refuge, and have nowhere else to go, approach a council for assistance.
What if I am disabled or have a disabled child?
If you are disabled, it may be more difficult for you to get away from your home, especially if you have mobility problems. In addition, many refuges aren’t fully accessible for disabled people. An adviser from the Freephone 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline (0808 8010 800) will be able to help you find a place in an accessible refuge, and you can also get help from the council. The Live Fear Free Helpline also offers BT Type talk for callers with hearing difficulties.
What if I am black or from an ethnic minority?
Some refuges cater specifically for women from black or ethnic minority backgrounds. Call the Freephone 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline (0808 8010 800) to find out more.
How do I pay for my accommodation?
Refuges are not free; you will have to pay rent while you are staying there. However, you may be able to claim housing benefit to help cover the cost. If you still have to pay rent on the home you have fled, you may be able to get housing benefit for two homes.