Victims of domestic abuse who turn to their local councils for help are being told to go back to the homes they share with their abusers.
Councils in Kent have allegedly been telling them they have no responsibility to house anyone who has made themselves "intentionally homeless" - leaving some still fighting for a permanent home after two years.
One such victim, Paige, was deemed 'not homeless' twice by Medway Council as she still had tenancy in the property where she was abused.
She says her abuser has now moved out, but only lives a mile away. She is appealing the decision again while sofa surfing with her son as she is unable to find somewhere to rent.
She said: "I don't know why they feel like it is safe for me to return to the property I fled from.
"I'm petrified for mine, my sons and my unborn child's life. I don’t feel safe going back and I’m not going to put my children at risk of returning."
A Medway Council spokesman said Paige has a right to appeal the decision, but the council, police and other agencies agree she is safe to return to the property.
In another incident, a woman from Dartford told KentOnline she jointly owned a home with her abuser so was refused housing when she fled.
After losing her job and being refused benefits, she funded her own legal representation over the forced sale of the property, putting her in massive debt.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: "Authorities have a duty to secure accommodation for households who are deemed to be unintentionally homeless and in priority need.
"If an applicant has become homeless unintentionally, the authority must assess whether they, or a member of their household, falls into a ‘priority need’ category.
"It is widely acknowledged in guidance and by local authorities that a person would be in priority need when fleeing a domestic abuse relationship – and councils fully understand that a domestic abuse victim may need to be housed out of their local area or in a place that have no local connection to.
"There has been recent social housing guidance looking at this."
If the local council does find you to be unintentionally homeless but not a priority, they must still provide free advice and assistance in helping you find alternative accommodation.
In November 2018, the government published statutory guidance urging local authorities to give careful consideration to the safety and welfare of victims when they apply for social housing.
Through the new Domestic Abuse Bill, councils will be legally obligated to provide support to victims of domestic abuse - but this is still to become legislation.
Deborah Cartwright, 49, chief executive of the Oasis Domestic Abuse refuge and charity, said victims are often unaware of their rights under the Housing Act and will go to council meetings without an advocate's support.
This means some local authorities are left to interpret more vague aspects of the act themselves, for example, declaring a victim as unsafe in their local authority as meaning housing must be found elsewhere.
She said: “It's an awful predicament because you are stressed, traumatised and not confident.
"You have had a reduced space for action because a big part of abuse is your world shrinks, your ability to think shrinks, and you haven't been given agency.
"So when you have found the strength and ability to remove yourself from the relationship, you are now confronted with having to navigate a very complicated landscape."
Victims of domestic abuse will often be put into temporary accommodation while the council decides if they are eligible for housing.
Mrs Cartwright said women who live in temporary accommodation may feel very vulnerable and unsafe because of other people who may be housed there, such as people with drug problems, or those recently released from prison.
She added living in these environments make women more vulnerable to abuse and may lead to victims returning to their abusers with a "better the devil you know" mindset.
Paige was kept in accommodation that was covered in mould before she was evicted and given five days to leave after the council's decision.
Refuges are available to house victims while they flee, though they have been met with mixed reviews.
Some said their refuges have left them without any support or behave more like a business. Others said they were amazing, providing counselling, and housing support.
Nationally, 64.1% of referrals to refuges were declined last year, with 20.3% of these due to lack of room.
Many are encouraged to privately rent instead. However, the Oasis boss says this can become a poverty trap as those struggling with money will also have to pay for what housing benefits do not cover.
Anyone seeking help trying to navigate a route away from abuse also has to deal with a system under massive financial pressure.
Mrs Cartwright said: “I think there is a very real housing crisis in this country. We've got a systemic issue, not an individual issue and it's incredibly difficult for local authorities to balance the books.
“Local authorities find it really difficult to remain open and collaborative and helpful because the system is under so much pressure.
“That's an issue for the government to invest with a long-term focus because a short-term view doesn't help with long-term problems.”
The way councils handle domestic violence can depend on an individual council's policies for housing and advice.
For example, when asked about their domestic violence policy for fleeing victims, a Dover District Council spokesman said: "We look at trying to secure a refuge place, as then the household receives specialist domestic abuse support, especially if it would not be safe for them to stay in the area where the perpetrator lives."