Relationship breakdown and domestic abuse
Domestic abuse and getting emergency housing
You have the right to get emergency housing if you need to leave your home because of domestic abuse.
What domestic abuse and violence is
Domestic abuse or violence is behaviour that causes you mental or physical harm. This can be behaviour by either a partner or an ex-partner.
Anyone can experience domestic abuse, including women, men and non-binary people, and everyone is protected by law.
Examples of domestic abuse include:
physical or sexual violence
isolating you from friends or family
frightening, humiliating or punishing you
controlling your money and building up debts in your name
coercive control, telling you where you can and cannot go, or controlling your social media
Check the Scottish Women's Aid website for more information about domestic abuse.
If you're at risk
Call the police on 999 if you’re in immediate danger.
If you’re reporting something that happened before or you’re worried could happen later, call them on 101.
Domestic abuse support services
Anyone can call the free 24-hour National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Scotland on 0800 027 1234.
Finding a refuge
A refuge can be a place to escape someone abusing you. Refuge staff are trained to support you while you decide what to do next.
Women’s refuges help with accommodation in an emergency. They cannot tell the person abusing you where you are.
To find a place in a refuge contact the National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline. You can:
You can also find a refuge by contacting your local Women’s Aid.
If you're a man who is experiencing domestic abuse contact:
There are currently no refuges for men experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland. You can make a homeless application to any council in Scotland if you're fleeing abuse. The council must give you somewhere to stay while they look into your situation.
Getting emergency accommodation from the council
Contact the council's housing department to make a homeless application. The council must give you somewhere safe to stay if you need it.
The council cannot:
make you go back to where you feel unsafe
contact the abusive person
insist you tell the police before you make a homeless application
Check our guidance on making a homeless application.
If you’re not a British or Irish citizen
Your rights to get homeless help could be affected by this. Check how your immigration status affects your housing options if you're not sure.
Things to take with you when you’re leaving
If it's safe take what you can, for example:
bank and credit cards in your name
yours and your children's passports
your driver's licence
bills in your name
your tenancy agreement
your clothes and children's clothes
your house, car and work keys
legal papers, such as birth and marriage certificates
any police reports or court order papers
The Scottish Women's Aid website has advice on staying safe when leaving an abusive partner.
Last updated: 17 March 2023