It can be very difficult to make a decision on whether to stay in or leave an abusive relationship. You may feel very isolated and frightened and think that no-one will care or believe you. Many people do go on to rebuild their lives after an abusive relationship and there is support available to help you keep safe.
Leaving can be a dangerous time, as your abuser may try to prevent you from leaving, prevent you from taking your children with you or pursue you after you have left.
You do have the right to live free from violence and fear.
If you decide you want to leave, and it is not an emergency, complete the Safety Plan on the Keeping Safe page and discuss your options with someone you trust or one of the helplines on the Getting Help page. The buttons for both of these pages are below.
There’s also a few other things that support services can help you with when you are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship:
Domestic abuse can leave people in debt or with very little money of their own. Moving home, either temporarily or permanently can be costly and replacing items that have either been damaged or left behind can seem like an impossible task, but help is available.
If you have left your partner you may need to apply for new benefits or change your claims. If you have left your home temporarily, you may be eligible to have housing benefit paid on both properties while you wait to see if you can return. The Domestic Abuse Helplines can put you in touch with domestic abuse advice workers. They can help with these problems by sorting out debts, applying for grants and loans and negotiating with housing providers over rent arrears and other financial problems.
Help is available to assist you in stopping the abuse and either remaining in your home or leaving home and then returning once the abuser has been removed. Your rights will vary according to your situation and you may need to seek specialist advice. You can get advice from:
- Your local Housing Office, if you are a council tenant
- Your Housing Officer, if you are a tenant of a Housing Association
- Support services in the Getting Help section of this website
- Citizens Advice Bureau, Homeless Families services and Law Centres
There are many support services that can help you keep your existing or find a new home when leaving an abusive relationship. Have a look at the Getting Help section of this site for their contact details.
There are different options available should you wish to protect yourself using the law.
If you have no money, you may be able to get legal aid to pay for the legal help that you need.
Your solicitor can use the law to advise you about the future welfare of your children and can advise you about divorce or separation.
If you have had to leave your home for your or your children’s safety they can help you get back home by regaining possession of your house tenancy.
They can also help you take out an injunction, which will protect you and your children from being beaten or harassed. The injunction can also order the person to leave the family home.
If you are being threatened or harassed by another person, it is sometimes possible to take out an injunction against that person as a way of protecting yourself and keeping them away from you. Although injunctions can be issued for a number of reasons one of the most common is because a person has been the victim of domestic abuse.
If you are under 16, domestic abuse is categorised as child abuse and you need to get help from a teacher, school counsellor or social worker.
If you are over 16 you can get help obtaining an injunction against a partner you’re living with, or are married to. Injunctions can also be taken out against any ‘associated’ persons. This could be a former or current partner, husband, wife or relative.
What is an injunction?
Domestic violence injunctions stop a person from doing something. You can get them through a solicitor, from a County Court or a Magistrates Court, or apply directly by yourself. If you are worried that you may not have enough money to cover the costs, you may be eligible for legal aid. You can find out more about this from the Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Helpline, your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Family Law Solicitor.
An injunction is not the same as a Restraining Order. Restraining Orders come into place after a defendant has been convicted or has broken an injunction.
Types of injunction
- Non-molestation Order – Prevents someone from using or threatening violence and also forbids them from intimidating, harassing or pestering you. If you’re in doubt about what ‘assault’ means, talk to a domestic violence officer through your local police station. They are specially trained to deal with situations involving violent partners.
- An Undertaking – Your partner has to promise the court not to threaten, assault or harass you. If they do they are in ‘Contempt of Court’ and could be sent to prison.
- Occupation Order – Decides who can live in the home (in the short term) that you previously shared with your abusive partner. Can keep someone away from your home.
- Anti-harassment Injunction (under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997) – Stops your partner harassing or assaulting you. Breaching this injunction is an arrestable offence carrying up to 5 years in prison. The harassment has to have happened on two separate occasions – these can be months apart, and don’t have to be of the same nature. Fear of an offence can also be a breach too – i.e. they don’t have to actually hurt you. It can be obtained from a County Court or a High Court.