Homelessness and domestic abuse
Domestic abuse is described by the Home Office as ‘any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse between two people, who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’ The abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional in nature and may include other forms of abuse.
If you are in an abusive relationship or living in fear of your partner, ex-partner, or family members, you are likely to be experiencing domestic abuse.
Please call 999 immediately, in an emergency or if you feel that your safety is threatened, and you might be at risk of injury or assault.
Key Indicators of Domestic Abuse
The following are important signs of domestic abuse that you should be aware of:
- you are made to feel subordinate or dependent on the abuser, for example, by keeping you without money
- you are isolated and stopped from seeing your friends or family
- you are being exploited and your daily activities and behaviour are regulated
- you are being called names and put down so that you feel bad about yourself
- fear is instilled in you through threatening behaviour towards you or your children
- violent behaviour towards you
- actual harm or the threat that you could be seriously harmed
You should seek help immediately if you are experiencing any of the above. Ignoring violence and other forms of domestic abuse is dangerous, as it could have far-reaching consequences on you and especially children, who are impacted in 90% of all domestic abuse cases. It is important to note that you are not alone, and that there is help and support available to get you through the challenges of domestic abuse. Please visit the Somerset Survivors website for information on local and national services that can help.
Somerset West and Taunton Council’s Housing Options Team are available to support and advise you on your housing options if you are experiencing domestic abuse, alongside other National and Local Advisory and Support Services.
Some people may be entitled to help from Somerset County Councils’ Social Services department, depending on their circumstances. Social Services may be able to help you find alternative accommodation by providing you with financial support to pay a deposit for accommodation in the private rented sector. If you are in poor health, have learning or physical disabilities, have dependent children living with you, or have recently left the care system, you may be eligible for support from Social Services. Telephone: 0300 123 2224
Visit the Somerset County Council website for more information.
Victims of domestic abuse can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 if they are feeling low and in despair and would like to talk with someone about their feelings and receive emotional support.
Domestic abuse victims can access further help and advice from Shelter on their advice line: 0808 800 4444 or the Citizen Advice Bureau Services in Taunton and Minehead.
Citizens Advice Taunton operates a face-to-face advisory service and can be contacted on 0808 278 7842 Monday to Friday, from 10am - 4pm.
Citizens Advice West Somerset can be contacted on 0800 802 1808 / 01643 704624
Barnardo’s Reprovide (Support for Men) provides support for men who are concerned about their violent and abusive behaviour within their intimate relationships. They run two free weekly groups in Taunton and Shepton Mallet. Phone: 07976 225462; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can contact this Service on 0808 2000 247 for advice and assistance, if you are a woman with children experiencing domestic abuse. This is a free 24-hour helpline and you could be provided with access to refuge spaces nationally.
Visit the National Domestic Abuse Helpline website for more information.
Protection against Stalking works jointly with relevant agencies to increase awareness of Stalking and Harassment to ensure victims receive all the protection and help they need to rebuild their lives and live free of fear. Email: email@example.com.
Visit the Protection Against Stalking website for more information.
Homelessness help from the Council
It is strongly recommended that you do not give up your home permanently, until you have sought advice about all your housing options.
Before leaving your home due to domestic abuse and deciding to approach the Council for assistance, you may want to consider other options. The Sanctuary Scheme is one of such options you could explore if you feel at risk of harm in your home. Sanctuary Schemes adopt a multi-agency approach to keeping you safe by creating a ‘sanctuary’ space within your home. As part of this initiative, safety works are carried out such as fireproofing your letterboxes, creating panic rooms, carrying out a lock change and installing alarms, which the police respond to immediately. You can explore this option, alongside trying to find a place in a Women’s Refuge, with Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS).
If it is not safe for you to remain in your home, our Housing Options team will advise and support you to find accommodation elsewhere, most likely a refuge space, in the first instance. As part of our enquiries, we will ask you about your circumstances and whether there is any evidence of the abuse, which may include a detailed log of the instances of the abuse with dates, and any other information which may support your application for housing assistance. If you have reported the abuse to any other agency, please make sure that you tell us.
You may also be offered emergency accommodation, if a refuge space is not available, and if we have decided that we have a duty to help you find somewhere to live.
Staying with family or friends
Staying with family or friends could be an option to consider when fleeing domestic abuse. In the short-term, it is inexpensive and could help you save money towards the deposit for an alternative home. Additionally, you will be able to rely on those you trust and confide in for emotional support when at your lowest point.
If your relationship with your family or friends has broken down, we can make arrangements for mediation to help mend your relationships, whilst we continue to work together to explore other housing options and help you to move in a planned way.
Somerset West and Taunton Council tenants
As a Council tenant experiencing domestic violence, you should contact your Housing and Estate Management team to discuss your circumstances and get help. You will be considered for a management transfer of homes if conditions for this have been met. Each case is considered individually and not everyone will qualify for a transfer. Please contact your designated Housing Officer within the Tenancy Management team for support on how to seek a management transfer.
Housing Association tenants
As a tenant of a Housing Association landlord fleeing domestic abuse, you should contact your Housing Association initially, as they may be able to offer you support around safety measures and consider you for a management transfer.
Housing Association tenants, alongside Somerset West and Taunton Council and tenants from other Councils can apply to transfer or exchange homes via Homeswapper or House Exchange to find alternative accommodation. You may also be able to receive a cash incentive to give up your current accommodation and obtain an alternative elsewhere.