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Domestic Abuse

Important information about your immediate safety

If you believe that you are in immediate or imminent danger, please telephone 999 and ask for the Police.

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For help on deleting your browser history and staying safe online visit the website for Women's Aid.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence provide a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, degrading, threatening and violent behaviour including sexual violence. Domestic abuse can also include psychological and emotional abuse, financial abuse, harassment and stalking and online or digital abuse committed by a partner, former partner, family member or carer.

If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse and you would like to talk to someone confidentially about your situation and to find out what options are available you can telephone the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit their website.

If you are a man experiencing domestic abuse you can telephone the Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 or visit their website.

If you are in a same-sex relationship you can telephone the National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 999 5428 or visit their website.

Women's Aid have developed a detailed Survivor's Handbook, which you can read for further advice and information.

Support and advice from Splitz

Splitz Support Service is an independent charity supported by local authorities in Devon (excluding Plymouth and Torbay) to provide support to children and adults who are experiencing domestic abuse. They provide:

  • independent information, advice and guidance from specially trained staff
  • one to one support from a dedicated support worker who will help you form a plan and help you to improve your safety and wellbeing
  • workshops for women to identify, comes to terms with and overcome the impact of domestic abuse
  • one to one support for children and young people if they have witnessed or been part of the abuse
  • if you are assessed as a person or family at high risk then you will be allocated an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) to provide you additional safety planning and support in attending court
  • Voluntary Perpetrator Programme which is a group programme for men who want to change their behaviour
  • support to access refuges that provide not only safe accommodation but ongoing support during what can be, a very difficult time in your life

You can refer yourself to Splitz by telephoning 0345 155 1074.

Domestic abuse and your housing options

If you are considering leaving an abusive partner, or looking for advice on securing safe housing, you can seek advice from Splitz Support Service or telephone Torridge District Council on 01237 428700 and choose the option for Housing Options. You can also email housing.options@torridge.gov.uk. If you contact the Council by email, please make sure to state the safest and best way for the Council to contact you, and consider whether you should delete the email you have sent from your email account.

You will receive accurate advice tailored to your specific situation and your housing options will depend on your specific circumstances, but possible options may include:

  • providing increased security in your current home through the Council's Sanctuary Scheme
  • providing you with advice and support on legal measures to keep a perpetrator of domestic abuse away from you and your home
  • helping you to plan a move if you are not in immediate risk of violence
  • offering one to one support to look at options available to you, including private renting
  • helping you to secure refuge accommodation, or other safe temporary accommodation. Refuges provide safe accommodation, together with specialised support for women fleeing domestic abuse
  • a referral to MARAC, which is a multi-agency panel who meet to discuss high risk cases and identify the options available

The Housing Options team may be able to offer you support and financial assistance to find a suitable private rented property.

You may also be able to register an application to Devon Home Choice. Devon Home Choice is a choice based lettings scheme through which Council and Housing Association homes in Devon are allocated. However, demand for housing through Devon Home Choice is high, and only a limited number of properties are advertised each week, so you may find a new home much quicker in the private rented sector. For detailed information visit Devon Home Choice website.

What if I have a joint tenant with the perpetrator?

If you live with a partner or other family member in a joint private or social tenancy, you will both have the legal right to live there. Your landlord cannot remove one person's name from a joint tenancy without their consent.

It is important that you do not remove your name from a joint tenancy without first securing another tenancy, or seeking housing advice from a local housing authority. You will be offered support if you wish to leave an abusive relationship, but this does not mean that you can be offered a property immediately, or that a local housing authority will have a legal duty to provide you with long term housing. The options available to you will depend on your particular circumstances. To contact the Housing Options team at Torridge District Council, please telephone 01237 428700 and choose the option for Housing Options. You can also email housing.options@torridge.gov.uk. If you contact the Council by email, please make sure to state the safest and best way for the Council to contact you, and consider whether you should delete the email you have sent from your email account.

If you are married but your name is not on the tenancy, you will have 'matrimonial rights'. This means that although your name is not on the tenancy you will have the same legal rights to live there as your spouse.

If you would like to remain or return to your tenancy, you may be able to pursue legal measures to prevent your abuser from entering or occupying the property. There may also be the option of adding additional security to your home to help you remain safe through the Council's Sanctuary Scheme. The Police may feel that you would benefit from additional alarms or safety measures that they can offer, so that you are prioritised for a response should an incident occur and you telephone 999.

You should consider whether it is safe for you to remain in or return to your tenancy, and may need support to help you assess and make this decision. If you are at risk of violence you could consider alternative private rented accommodation, moving into a refuge or other safe temporary accommodation, or apply to Devon Home Choice.

Options for joint home owners

If you live with a partner or other family member in a jointly owned property you will both have a legal right to live there and, if you have a joint mortgage, you will have a joint responsibility to ensure the mortgage is paid, even if one of you moves out of the property.

If you wish to stay in your current home, there are legal measures you can take to exclude a partner or other family member from a property that they jointly own.

Even if you feel it is not safe to stay in your current home, you can still pursue your financial interests in the property once you are in a place of safety. If necessary, you can claim welfare benefits once you have separated from an abusive partner, but in order to be entitled to these benefits in the longer term you will need to show that you are resolving any financial interests you may have.

It is important that you do not make a decision to give up your home permanently until you have obtained advice about your rights from a solicitor, a local housing authority, Citizen's Advice Bureau or other advice agency.

Legal Measures

You may be able to get legal protection from your abuser by applying for a civil injunction or protection order. There are two main types of injunctions available under the Family Law Act 1996:

An occupation order determines who can live in the family home and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. You may have already left the family home due to violence but want to return without them still living there.

A non-molestation order is aimed to prevent your abuser using or threatening violence against you or your children, intimidating or harassing you in order to ensure your health, safety and wellbeing.

A power of arrest may be attached to either an occupation order or a non-molestation order. This gives the Police the right to arrest the abuser if they breach either order.

You can apply for an occupation order or a non-molestation order yourself, but it is advisable to seek expert legal advice and support. Splitz Support Service can provide you with advice and assistance on these legal measures and can refer you to specialised legal services who can help you.

If you are on a low income, you could get legal aid to help with the costs, GOV.UK Legal Aid. The National Centre for Domestic Violence provide a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.

Future safety

You and any services working work with you will need to consider how a partner, former partner, family member or carer may react when they realise you have left or you tell that that you are leaving. Some questions to consider are:

  • will they become violent?
  • will they look for you or try to contact you or the children?
  • will they come to your work place, school, or visit your relatives or friends, or other places they know that you go to?
  • do they know your routine?
  • will they make threats to find and/or harm you that you think they may carry out?
  • will they be able to find your new home by following you home from work or school?
  • if you have children, what steps will you take in allowing the perpetrator access to your children, or declining them access if you feel that they pose a risk to your children?

Sometimes in violent and abusive relationships the abuser may try to find you even after you have left. There are steps that you can take to make your one move be your only move. These could include:

  • moving away from your current area to an area they do not have links to
  • taking legal steps to obtain a non-molestation order to prevent them approaching or making contact with you once you have left. In some instances, these can be awarded with a power of arrest so that if they are breached the Police can arrest immediately
  • changing your telephone number to stop contact/harassment
  • making sure you do not disclose your new address or temporary address over social media or to friends/family that may pass this information on

If you ask for help to find alternative housing in the area that you currently live, you and the services working with you will be asked to consider whether you can safely remain in the local area.

Refuge accommodation

A refuge is more than just a safe place to stay. Refuges are in undisclosed locations, with specialised support staff there to help you manage the impacts of the abuse you have been through. They can help you and your children to overcome the impacts of violence and abuse and offer a huge range of practical and emotional support. This might include support on housing, education, accessing benefits, employment, or immigration, or it might mean helping to achieve better health and wellbeing.

There are refuges all over the UK. If you would like to refer yourself to a refuge you can do so through the National Domestic Violence Helpline.