If you are a victim of a domestic violence, you may need somewhere safe to stay, either alone or with your children. The options are:
- stay at home if you think this is safe
- stay with relatives or friends
- stay in a Women’s Aid refuge
- get emergency accommodation from the local authority
- private rented accommodation.
Women’s Aid Refuges
Women’s Aid Refuges are safe houses run by and for women suffering domestic violence. There are currently 12 Women’s Aid refuges across Northern Ireland. Our refuges are modern, well appointed buildings. Some have been purpose built. All refuges are well equipped to meet the needs of women and children. Refuges provide somewhere safe for you and your children to stay and allow some time and space for you to think about what to do next.
All refuges employ a team of highly skilled and trained staff to respond to your needs and those of your children. Child workers plan an ongoing programme of play and social activities for children which can help children relax and get the support they need.
Women’s Aid staff are specialised in dealing with domestic violence, and so can give a lot of emotional and practical support, for example, advice on benefit claims, which solicitors to use and, if necessary, how to contact the police etc.
To find out your nearest refuge with spaces available, you should contact the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Abuse Helpline (0808 802 1414). Helpline staff will do their best to find you somewhere safe to stay that night even if the local refuge is full. They are also happy to talk to you about any questions you may have about refuges. To see a virtual tour of one of our refuges click here.
The Housing Executive in Northern Ireland
If you have to leave your home because of domestic abuse, you have a right to temporary and permanent housing provided by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. You will usually be considered legally homeless if it is not reasonable for you to occupy your home because of the risk or fear of domestic violence. The Housing Executive in Northern Ireland (NIHE) deals with applications from victims of domestic violence on a regular basis. You can approach the Housing Executive to ask for support. You can even ask for a private interview, with someone of the same sex.
The Housing Executive may have a duty to provide interim accommodation for you if you are homeless.