Avoiding violence or abuse
You may feel you have to leave your home because of threats, abuse or intimidation. If you have to leave there may be safe places you can go to, such as refuges and temporary housing from the council. It may also be possible for you to stay in your home and make it safer. The council should help you do this.
You should never put yourself in danger. In an emergency, or if you believe that a criminal offence is about to be committed, you should call the police on 999.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse you can contact the Live Fear Free 24-hour confidential helpline on 0808 80 10 800, free of charge, or look at the Welsh Government Life Fear Free website for advice.
Should I leave immediately?
If you are at risk of violence you may need to leave your home in a hurry, until you can sort out a more permanent solution. If you can, arrange temporary housing before you leave and take some essentials with you, such as:
- A change of clothes
- Toiletries and any medication you need to take regularly
- Important documents, such as your passport, credit cards and legal papers.
Don’t make a decision to give up your home permanently until you have spoken to an adviser and considered all your options.
What can I do about problems at home?
You may be experiencing violence, threats, abuse or controlling behaviour from someone you live with or used to live with. This could be your partner, spouse, or civil partner, or an ex civil partner, ex spouse or ex partner, or a parent or a child. If you are in this situation but want to stay in your home, you may be able to get a court order (an injunction). The injunction could order the person to:
- Stop being violent
- Stay away from your home
- Stop contacting you.
If the violent person doesn’t stick to the injunction, it is a criminal offence and s/he can be arrested. You can get more information and advice from the free, 24-hour Live Fear Free 24-hour confidential helpline on 0808 80 10 800. They may be able to refer you to a solicitor specialising in family law. If you are eligible for legal aid you could also contact Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 for telephone advice.
If you already have an injunction but the person is not taking any notice of it, call the police immediately or contact your solicitor for further help.
Abuse from outside the home?
If the problems are caused by someone living in your area who you have no relationship with, get advice before you take any action. There are a number of different ways it might be possible to solve the problem, but you should never put yourself in danger.
If the violent person lives in rented accommodation, you could consider informing her/his landlord, who may decide to take action against her/him.
Councils and housing associations can take action to try and stop anti-social behaviour by their tenants. They can get an injunction to prevent the abusive person from coming near you and your home and, in serious cases (such as racist or sexual harassment), they can evict the person responsible.
If the violent or abusive person is a home owner, you may be able to take legal action against her/him yourself but this is complicated and can be expensive.
It is a good idea to get advice before taking action, but you should call the police if you are in immediate danger.
For more advice on how to deal with discrimination as a tenant, have a look at these 2 guides produced in Wales by the Open Doors project :
Contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for information on issues of racist harassment or sexual harassment, or call the Equality Advisory Support Service helpline for advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues.
What are my housing options?
In the short term, you may want to stay with friends or relatives while you think about what to do next. Once you are out of danger, you may have a number of accommodation options :
Help from the council housing department
You can apply to the council housing department as a homeless person if you can’t stay in your home because of the situation. You should ask to make an ‘homelessness application‘. In most cases, the council should give you advice and help at an early stage to either prevent you from becoming homeless or to help you find somewhere more suitable to live. You may be entitled to emergency (or ‘interim’) housing. You will be asked to provide details of your situation and may be asked for supporting evidence. Supporting evidence could include details and dates of incidents and reports from the police (if they have been called). You may want to take a friend or an adviser along for moral support. If the council says it won’t help you because it believes it would have been reasonable for you to stay in your home, get advice from Shelter Cymru immediately.
Help from social services
Some groups of people may be entitled to help from social services, even if the housing department can’t help. This might be the case if you:
- Are elderly
- Have dependent children
- Are under 18
- Have left care (or are about to do so)
- Are mentally or physically disabled or ill
Social services may be able to help by finding accommodation for you, paying for a deposit or providing financial support. There are no rules about the kind of help social services have to provide, but an adviser may be able to tell you what sort of help you can expect.
Women experiencing domestic abuse may be able to stay in a women’s refuge. You can get more information on refuges from the free, 24-hour Live Fear Free confidential helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or visit Welsh Women’s Aid for more information. They can put you in touch with other agencies such as:
- The police
- The housing department
There is less specialist housing for men experiencing domestic abuse, but you can still apply to the council housing department as a homeless person.