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Leaving the home

There are a number of options available if someone wishes to leave their home because of domestic abuse.

This content applies to Scotland

Women's refuges

For women and children, safe temporary accommodation might be available from Women's Aid groups. A few refuges are accessible for women with disabilities and some that cater for women from black and minority ethnic groups. There are some specialist services that provide accommodation to young homeless women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

No men are allowed access to these refuges (male children are allowed up to the age of 16). The locations of refuges are not disclosed to outsiders.

Women's Aid operates an 'open door' policy whereby they will accept women fleeing abuse from any part of the country if they have the space. They can also provide support and advice and information to women about, for example, financial matters and housing issues.

Men and non-binary people

Men and non-binary people can also experience domestic abuse. All people affected by domestic abuse can contact the Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage service.

However, men and non-binary people can also find support, advice and information on the website Abused Men in Scotland. The service provides a free helpline as well as some limited face to face and email support.

Applying to the local authority as homeless

A person living in a situation where they are subject to abuse or are in fear of abuse can apply to the local authority for housing either through the waiting list or as a homeless person. For more information, please see the section on making a homeless application. This includes men and women in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships or any other person living in the accommodation, for example a son or daughter who is being abused by a parent.

They may be seeking housing in the short term only or they may be looking for more permanent housing. If the person is applying to the local authority as being homeless, then the authority will make an assessment as to whether the person is homeless, and whether they are intentionally homeless and it may inquire into the person's local connection.

The applicant can ask to be interviewed by a person of the same sex and can have a friend or adviser with them at the interview. Homelessness officers should have local contact telephone numbers and addresses of agencies that offer services for those fleeing abuse.

Support for victims of domestic violence with no recourse to public funds

The UK Border Agency began a new policy on 1 April 2012 to help support victims of domestic violence who came to the UK on a spousal or partner visa. The support gives successful applicant's three months in which they can access public funds whilst they make a claim for indefinite leave to remain in the UK under the Destitution Domestic Violence Immigration Rule.

Applicants can only qualify for this support if: 

  • they entered to UK or were granted leave to remain in the UK as the spouse or partner of a British Citizen or UK resident; and

  • their relationship broke down due to domestic violence; and

  • they don't have the means to access accommodation or support themselves financially; and

  • they are going to make a claim for indefinite leave to remain in the UK under the Domestic Violence Immigration rule.

The UK Border Agency's website has more information on how this support operates and which agencies can help with applications for this support.

Housing with a registered social landlord

Some registered social landlords have policies on relationship breakdown and some award specific points for fleeing abuse. Individuals can usually apply directly to a registered social landlord or ask the local authority to nominate them. Accommodation from a registered social landlord may not be available immediately so there may be a requirement for temporary accommodation in the interim.

For more information, please see the section on registered social landlords.

Last updated: 26 February 2020