If you have decided you can no longer continue to live with a person who has been abusing you then there is help out there. There are organisations such as the Samaritans who can give you immediate information about local refuges and support groups.

  • Refuges are usually shared accommodation, specifically for women who have experienced violence and abuse from someone who lives with them, usually a partner. You can also use a refuge if you have been threatened with violence. You will find that most of the women there have experienced the same situations that you have been through.
  • Refuges are usually normal houses but they are sometimes specially built. You will usually get a bedroom of your own but you may have to share washing facilities and there may be common living areas. You can find them all over the country by calling 0808 2000 247 or by looking on Refuge's website.
  • You can find practical help and emotional support both through other people staying at the refuge and staff. There are often programmes of counselling available and help to find long term accommodation.
  • The key to making a refuge work for you and the other women there is to protect where it is - you must not tell your ex-partner where you are and it is advisable to keep the address secret from most people.
  • If you have children you can bring them with you. The only restriction may be on older boys; in that instance try to ensure that your child is left with a relative or trustworthy friend.
  • Most refuges will let you stay as long as you need, whether that is just overnight or for several months. The staff are trained to deal with these situations and can help you take the next step in finding long term accommodation either privately or through the local council.

Staff can also help you claim any benefits you are entitled to. The staff will have access to legal specialists who can help you with issues such as divorce, court orders to prevent your abuser contacting or approaching you and issues to do with joint property and assets.