If it is not safe for you to stay where you are due to the domestic abuse you are experiencing, then there is a range of safe accommodation that you can access both locally and further afield.
This may be a refuge (where you have your own bedroom but usually share other facilities) or a flat or house for your own use.
These are all designed to offer you safety and you will receive specialist support to help you find safe permanent accommodation.
In Somerset, we do have both refuge and safe-house accommodation. However, many men and women may need to leave the area. We can help provide support solutions tailored to the individual, and this may or may not include accessing refuge.
Whether you own your own home are in rented accommodation or do not have anywhere permanent to live. A lack of a safe home is a real issue if you are experiencing domestic abuse. Here are some options you may consider(these are provided in no particular order).
Moving – Option A – Local authority accommodation
Local authority housing options teams have a statutory responsibility under the Housing Act to provide accommodation for people who are fleeing violence, including domestic abuse. You do not have to provide supporting evidence, but in reality, it is much easier to be accepted as unintentionally homeless if there is some evidence. This could include letters from the police, GP, Health Visitor, a domestic abuse support service or another professional willing to support the application.
Moving – Option B – Refuge accommodation
A refuge is a safe accommodation where women and children who are experiencing domestic violence can stay free from abuse. Support will be provided to you whilst you are living there for either a few days or weeks (or sometimes a few months). There are also safe houses for men fleeing domestic abuse in different parts of the UK, including in Somerset. These refuges and safehouses are confidential, and will normally mean having to leave the area where the abuse is taking place to help ensure safety.
Although you may not want to leave the area where you live, it is usually safer if refuge or safehouse is a real option for you because you’re in danger from domestic abuse. This is because the person causing you harm could easily trace you locally, and they may have friends or relatives who could see you.
Moving – Option C – Friends or family
Staying with friends or relatives is another option. But this may not be safe if there is a chance the person causing you harm knows where your friend or relative lives. It may be necessary to get an injunction to stop them from approaching you. Your specialist domestic abuse service worker or solicitor can help advise on this.
Staying Where You Are – Option A – Occupation orders
This type of order states who has a right to stay in the home. This can mean if you live with the person causing you to harm, they have to move out. In order to apply for this type of order, you need to know if you or the abuser (or both) are legally entitled to occupy the property.
Staying Where You Are – Option B – Domestic Violence Protection Order
If you live with a person causing you harm, and the police reasonably believe that you’ve either experienced or been threatened with violence, you need to be protected. Then the police can serve a Domestic Violence Protection Notice, and apply to the court to make this a Domestic Violence Protection Order. This can stop the person causing harm from entering your home for up to 28 days even if you don’t agree to it.
More information on your housing options
Somerset Domestic Abuse on 0800 69 49 999
Citizens Advice on 0344 488 9623 or go to their website
Get help and advice from the Shelter website
Somerset Sanctuary Scheme
If you do not feel safe where you are living and are not living with the person who is causing you harm, then the Sanctuary Scheme may help.
This service offers a range of security improvements to your property (including garden if applicable), that help you to feel safer where you are living.
This scheme is available for animal owners who need their animals to be kept safe. This is while they are either needing to access temporary accommodation (for example refuge) due to domestic abuse, or their high-risk situation is being resolved with the help of the Somerset Domestic Abuse Service.
Get in touch
If you are concerned for yourself or someone else, our local, confidential helpline will advise anyone seeking help with domestic abuse. This includes relatives, friends and work colleagues as well as those who are causing harm.
Speak to us on 0800 69 49 999. Our phone line is available 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.