What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic Abuse as a gender based abuse can be perpetrated by partners or ex partners. Domestic Abuse is a generic term used to describe a range of behaviours.
The type of behaviours include:
- physical abuse – such as assault, putting a person in danger, pushing, slapping, hair pulling, kicking or punching.
- mental and emotional abuse – such as threats, name calling, blame, ridicule, intimidation, being ignored, racial abuse, withholding money and other types of controlling behaviour such as isolation from family and friends
- sexual abuse – which could include pressurising someone into having sex, taking photos without consent and posting these on web-sites, to other sexual acts which humiliate or degrade including rape.
Domestic Abuse has no boundaries in terms of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, wealth or geography.
The Scottish Government report that police recorded incidents in Scotland in 2007/08 evidenced 85% of cases involved a female victim and male perpetrator.
Domestic Abuse is acknowledged as one of the many forms of gender based violence against women.
What is The Highland Council doing to tackle domestic abuse?
The Highland Council as one of the partners of The Community Planning Partnership in Highland has been tackling Domestic Abuse since1999 with the publication of the first Community Plan for the area. This was followed by The Highland Domestic Abuse Strategy in 2004 which has been further updated to the Violence Against Women Strategy 2008 - 2011.
You can obtain a copy of this Strategy which sets out what each community planning partner is doing to tackle domestic abuse and wider violence against women issues in the link on this page.
This leaflet sets out information and advice about Housing for women experiencing Domestic Abuse and includes useful contacts for further support and information.
Housing Advice & Information
What help can I get if I have to leave home?
When women experiencing Domestic Abuse no longer feel it is safe for them or their children to remain in their own home they have a right to access temporary accommodation in terms of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 and the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003.
Temporary Accommodation is available through The Highland Council’s Homelessness services, or through refuge accommodation provided by Women’s Aid organisations. Contact details are available below.
The Highland Council provides 24 hour Homelessness Services throughout the year. In emergencies outside office hours call: 0845 700 2005.
Some women may have a need to leave their local authority area for protection. Every local authority in Scotland is required to provide a 24 hour emergency homelessness service.
Temporary Accommodation provides an opportunity for safety in the short to medium term while awaiting follow on alternative safe permanent accommodation. Alternatively, it can provide time to assert any occupancy rights and to arrange any safety mechanisms to enable a safe return to the home if that is desired.
Domestic Abuse and Homelessness Law – your rights
The law says someone is homeless when it is not reasonable for them to remain in occupation in their accommodation because doing so may lead to violence or where there are threats of violence from someone else living there. The local authority has a duty to provide a settled alternative housing solution for all people assessed as homeless where it is unreasonable for them to remain in their home because of domestic abuse or threats of domestic abuse.
To assess your situation and get advice you should contact Housing and Property Services in your local authority and attend an interview with someone from the Homeless Prevention Team. You can arrange this in Highland by contacting any one of The Highland Council offices noted in this leaflet. You may take a friend or advocate with you for the interview if you wish.
Enquiries for a homelessness assessment are required to be concluded by the homelessness team within 28 days, followed by notification in writing of the decision and the reasons. In the event of dissatisfaction with the homelessness assessment decision there is a statutory time limit of 21 calendar days in which to request a review.
Waiting times for settled housing in Highland and elsewhere nationally can be long, but with a homeless assessment there is a right to remain in temporary accommodation until settled housing is provided by the local authority.
Sometimes it may not be safe for a woman to remain in the same area as the abuser. All local authorities in Scotland have the ability to refer women to another local authority, either for support with provision of safe temporary accommodation, or for support when making a referral for a permanent housing outcome.
What are my rights if I choose to return to my own home?
Research shows that on average it can take a woman 7 years to leave the perpetrator. During this time she may leave many times and return. Her rights to temporary accommodation and housing are the same regardless of how many times she leaves.
Many women are supported to take legal advice to assist them to assert their rights to have the abuser excluded from the family home in order that they and their family can return to live in their own home safely and permanently.
Specific legal advice on exercising the Matrimonial Homes Act or taking a civil interdict action is essential in these circumstances.
A legal information book - Domestic Abuse – Legal Issues Information Book, has been produced by Highland Community Planning Partnership. You can get a copy by contacting them on 01463 704814.
In the event that arrangements subsequently break down and the woman is at risk on a future occasion, then as noted above, her rights to temporary accommodation and housing are unaffected.
Are there any other Housing Options for women experiencing domestic abuse?
Many women may not want to move into temporary accommodation or there may not be a supply of suitable temporary accommodation in the area they live or an area where they need to move to for protection and/or support from their network of family and friends.
This is a particular issue for a local authority like Highland which includes many rural and remote rural settlements with limited social housing.
In these circumstances women may make a choice to source accommodation in the private rented sector. The Highland Council may be able to help with obtaining a private sector tenancy by provision of a Rent Deposit Guarantee. For details of the Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme contact your nearest Housing & Property Office.
On the other hand some woman may choose to remain in the family home after they have registered as homeless while they are waiting for alternative accommodation. Living with Domestic Abuse can be complex and challenging and these situations need to be managed sensitively. Women are encouraged to take advice about managing their personal safety from Women’s Aid organisations and/or specialised liaison officers from the police. Alternatively they should speak to their GP or another Health Professional about the circumstances.
The Highland Council Area Housing and Property Offices and Service Point Network
Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross
Area Housing and Property Office, Market Square, Wick, Caithness, KW1 4AB
Area Housing and Property Office, Rotterdam Street, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 8AB (01847-805505)
Area Housing and Property Office, Drummuie, Golspie, Sutherland, KW10 6TA
Area Housing and Property Office, 3/5 Obsdale Road. Alness, IV17 0TY 01349 886624.
Inverness, Nairn & Badenoch & Strathspey
Area Housing and Property Office, 21 – 23 Church Street, Inverness, IV1 1DY
Area Housing and Property Office, Community House, 31-35 Craigton Avenue, Inverness, IV3 8AZ (01463 718848)
Area Housing and Property Office, The Court House, Nairn, IV12 4AU (01667-458510)
Area Housing and Property Office, Ruthven Road, Kingussie, Inverness-shire, PH21 1EJ (01540-664510)
Ross, Skye & Lochaber
Area Housing and Property Office, Ross House, High Street, Dingwall, Ross-shire, IV15 9RY (01349-868511)
Area Housing and Property Office, Tigh-na-Sgire, Park Lane, Portree, Isle of Skye, IV51 9GP (01478-613806)
Area Housing and Property Office, Lochaber House, High Street, Fort William,
PH33 6EL (01397-707299)
Acharacle Service Point, Acharacle Centre, Morrison Place, Acharacle, PH36
Muir of Ord Service Point, Seaforth Road, Muir-of-Ord, IV6 7TA (01463-870201)
Ullapool Service Point, North Road Ullapool IV26 2XL (01854-612426)
Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline - FREE 0800 027 1234
Inverness Women’s Aid - 01463 220719
Ross-shire Women’s Aid - 01349 863568
Lochaber Women’s Aid - 01397 705734
Caithness & Sutherland Women’s Aid 0845 408 0151
Community Violence and Abuse Support Service
(Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) 01479 812144
Rape and Abuse Line:
0808 800 0123 (7pm – 10pm)
0808 800 0122 (7pm – 10pm)
Social Work (Emergency out of hours) 0845 769 7284
Advocacy Highland 01463 233460
Highland Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme 01463 712516
Amina Muslim Women’s Helpline 0808 801 0301
Hemat Gryffe Women’s Aid Glasgow 0141 353 0859
Shakti Women’s Aid Edinburgh 0131 475 3299
Victim Support 01463 710806