Many women continue to experience abuse and harassment from their former partner long after they have left. Refuge is here for you. It doesn’t matter how long ago you left your abuser, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for confidential support, 24-hours a day, on 0808 2000 247. We won’t tell you what to do, but we can support you to understand your options and make a plan.
If you feel afraid, below are some tips for increasing your safety and the safety of your children. This page is a starting point. It is important to access specialist support as well. The Helpline can connect you with specialist services in your community. If needed, we can also help you find a refuge place. In an emergency situation, call 999.
Explore civil orders: These are civil orders that stop an abusive person harassing you. For example, a non-molestation order will tell your perpetrator not to contact you. You don’t need to involve the police to get one, but if your perpetrator breaks one, it becomes a criminal offence. You can find out more about your legal options here.
Tell someone:Is there a friend, neighbour, or family member you trust? Let them know you might be at risk from your partner. Arrange a secret code with someone who lives close by (like ringing and hanging up, or a blank text), that lets them know you need help. You could also think about telling a professional you trust for example your GP.
Contact the police: Be ready to call 999 if you or your children are in danger. You can also call 101 in a non-emergency situation to report previous incidents, get advice from the local domestic abuse team, and let them know about any civil orders in place.
Make your home more secure: Many local authorities offer sanctuary schemes for people who have left abusive relationships. This can include help to make your home more secure. Speak to your local authority or specialist domestic violence service to find out what is available in your area.
Get specialist support: There are likely to be local charities in your area that can provide outreach support in the community. It doesn’t matter that you have already left; they can help you to stay safer and begin to rebuild your life. You can phone the Helpline for referrals to services in your area, or you can look them up online. If you are searching online, remember that your partner might be tracking your search history – try and use a computer they do not have access to (e.g. at work, or in a public library). Find out more about keeping your devices safe from your partner here.
Support around children: Many abusers continue to control and harass their partners through their children and child contact arrangements. You can find out more about your rights and options around child contact here.
Keep a record: Think about ways you can gather evidence of your partner’s behaviour safely. Make notes of abusive incidents, including times, dates, names and details of how it made you feel. Tell your GP, so they have a record of the abuse. Save any abusive messages. These can be used as evidence at a later date. However, make sure they aren’t stored anywhere (physically, or digitally) where your partner might find them. You can find out more about the ways your partner might use technology to abuse you here, and read tips about securing your devices here.
Tracking and tech abuse: Does your ex always seem to know where you are? Think about whether he might have placed tracking devices or spyware on any of your possessions. Find out more about the ways your partner may try to abuse you using technology – and how to spot the signs this may be happening – here.You can find out more about safety planning around technology, here.
In an emergency: If your partner is pursuing you, or attacking you, ring 999 as soon as possible. You could also:
- Plan an escape route – think about where you will go so you can call the police or alert a neighbour, and plan a place to meet with your children if you get separated
- Move to lower-risk parts of your home, where there is an escape route or access to a phone
- Avoid rooms like the kitchen or garage, which contain objects that could be used to hurt you
- Teach your children how to call 999 in an emergency