Domestic abuse: getting help in an emergency

You should always feel safe in your home. If someone makes you feel unsafe, you may be experiencing domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse covers more than just physical or sexual violence. It is any behaviour that causes you mental or physical harm.

Get help with domestic abuse

You can speak to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline at any time on 0800 027 1234.

They have a web chat option if you don't want to speak on the phone.

If you are threatened or attacked, call 999 and ask for the police.

Find somewhere safe to stay tonight

There are options if you and any children you have need somewhere safe to stay. This can be a place to escape someone abusing you. Or it can be somewhere to stay while you decide what to do next.

Women’s refuges

Women’s refuges help with accommodation in an emergency.

To find a place in a refuge contact the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234

If you don’t want to talk on the phone, the Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline has a live chat option.

You can also find a refuge by contacting your local Women’s Aid.

If you don’t feel safe in your local area, you can contact a refuge in a different part of the country. Women’s Aid has refuges across Scotland.

The charity Refuge has information on what women’s refuges are like. Read their guide to refuges.

Men’s refuges

There are specific organisations who help men experiencing domestic abuse. Call if you need to speak to someone:

There are currently no refuges for men experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland. If you need to leave domestic abuse, you can get help from your local council.

The council must give you somewhere safe to stay if you are at risk of abuse in your home.

Help from the council

The council can help you when you are homeless.

This includes anyone who is at risk of abuse or is unsafe in their home. You do not need to be sleeping on the streets to be homeless.

If you need to leave domestic abuse and don’t feel safe in your local area you can contact any other council for help. They must give you somewhere safe to stay on the day that you need it.

Get emergency help from the council

Things to take with you when you leave

The most important thing is that you and any children you have are safe.

The following items will be helpful, but only take them if you can:

  • passport

  • driving license

  • keys to your home, your car, and your place of work

  • legal papers, such as birth and marriage certificates

  • any police reports or court orders you have copies of

If you aren’t leaving today, you can make a plan to leave an abusive relationship.

Find out about preparing to leave domestic abuse on the Women's Aid website.

Get help paying for accommodation

There can be a charge for women’s refuges or the council’s homeless accommodation. Your income should be taken into account when the council decides on the cost.

You can get financial help by applying for benefits. You can sometimes get benefits to pay for two homes if you are leaving domestic abuse or a threat of violence.

Check if you're entitled to benefits

Use the Turn2us benefit calculator

You’ll need information on your household’s:

  • income and savings

  • outgoings, such as rent

  • existing benefits and pensions

  • council tax bill

Get help managing your money

Services that can help with budgeting, applying for benefits, and debt:

If you leave rented accommodation

Leaving somewhere that you rent does not automatically end the tenancy. You will still have a contract with the landlord. You will still have to pay rent, even if you are not staying in the home.

Find out how to end your sole tenancy if you are the only tenant.

Find out how to end a joint tenancy if you rent with someone else.

A safe home for you in the future

If you have found somewhere temporary to stay, you can then look at options for permanent housing.

You may be offered permanent housing if you made a homeless application to the council.

If you have not made a homeless application, you can get information on finding somewhere else to live.

Contact a housing adviser at Shelter Scotland if you need to discuss where you will live in the future.

You may want to return to your home once it is safe to do so. Find out how to remain in your home.

You can take legal action to protect yourself and your children. Find out about going to court and domestic abuse.

People who can help you with domestic abuse

If you need more help, there are organisations across Scotland who support people experiencing domestic abuse.

Find contact details for domestic abuse organisations.

Last updated: 28 June 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England

Get homeless help from the council

The council must help if you are homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months.

Get emergency help from the council