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What if I think I may have to leave my home?

If you've been abused in the past, or you think you are going to be abused, you may be able to make a planned escape and leave with money, clothes and other things you will need. Here's what you should do if you need to leave quickly.

What if I think I may have to leave my home?

If you are planning an escape, here are the things you should take:

  • clothes
  • toiletries
  • passports - yours and any children's
  • benefit books or details
  • your National Insurance number
  • savings books
  • bank details
  • your children's health records
  • any other personal identification, such as an official letter addressed to you at your home
  • your children's favourite toys, and
  • a photograph (ifyou have one) of your partner.

Sometimes it is safer just to get out of the home with whatever you can grab. Don't panic; make sure you are safe first. The things you will need to sort out are described below.

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What if I have to leave the children?

If at all possible, don't leave your children. However, you might have to leave them behind to keep yourself safe. If you do, it is important that you see a solicitor as soon as possible so you can take action to return to them (if you want to). You should also ask the police for help if you think your children are at risk from your partner.

You will not lose your rights as a parent if you have to leave your children. But if you leave them for weeks or months with your partner, a court may feel that changing the situation would unsettle them.

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What should I do about money?

If you make a planned escape, before you go you may be able to get some money together to tide you over. If you have to leave in a rush, this may be difficult. If your money is in a joint account with your partner, think about asking the bank to put a stop on the account so that your partner cannot take out money. However, this will mean you can't take out money either, so before you do this make sure you have enough for the time being.

If you can, set up a separate bank account before you go. If you don't have any money of your own, call your local benefit office. You may be able to get a crisis loan if you need it, and you can apply for Income Support at the same time.

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What if I need to get my things from home?

If you have had to leave in a rush and need to go back home to get important things, the police will generally help you arrange this. They will find someone to go with you so that you can visit your home safely.

If the police won't help, and your partner is stopping you returning to your home, you can apply for a court order to make your partner let you collect your belongings.

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How can I find somewhere to live?

You may be able to stay with friends or family. However, this may not feel safe enough, or you may not want to involve them. If you are escaping domestic violence or abuse, you can contact your local housing authority to see if they can find you a temporary home. (Look in the phone book under your local council's listings.)

Most areas also have women's refuges that offer temporary housing to women and their children (though you can stay there even if you have no children). The staff in a refuge will give you advice and support and help you work out what to do next. You will be able to stay there until you can find somewhere safe to live. Refuges do not print their addresses or phone numbers for safety reasons. To find out about refuges near you, call the National Domestic Violence freephone helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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What you can do now:

  • Call the confidential 24-hour National Domestic Violence freephone helpline on 0808 2000 247
  • Get help and advice from Women's Aid (this link opens in a new window)
  • Text 'legalaid' then your name to 80010 and we'll call you back within 24 hours.

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