Our headlines continue to be laden with reports concerning domestic abuse. It can be reassuring to see the campaign against domestic abuse continue to attract support from high profile names and organisations. Sadly, abuse within relationships is not uncommon but it must not be tolerated.
Domestic abuse does not only relate to physical violence but includes psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, which occurs between adults who are or have been intimate partners or are family members.
If you are a victim of abuse, then the law provides protection from this behaviour. You should always contact the Police to report incidents of harm. Physical abuse is a criminal offence, and you should call the Police if you fear for your safety. However sometimes action due to specific circumstances can be limited and prosecution under criminal law can be inadequate in some cases.
Applications for protection can be made to the Family Court. These include Orders to prevent a person from using or threatening violence, pestering, harassing or intimidating another, known as a Non-molestation Order and for Occupation Orders which can require a perpetrator to leave the home because of violent of abusive behaviour.
A person can apply for the above Orders if they are related to the other person or have been in a relationship with the person against whom they seek the Order.
An application will need to be supported by evidence, usually within a written statement and additional details of the case. In urgent situations the Court can make Non-molestation Orders without informing the other person which allows the protection of the Order whilst the paperwork is served on the perpetrator and a further hearing will be listed to consider all of the evidence. Alternatively notice will be given and the Court will need to decide whether to make the Order.
As an alternative to a Non-molestation Order, the perpetrator can make a binding promise to the Court to behave lawfully in the future, this is known as an undertaking.
It is a criminal offence to breach a Non-molestation order, that person can therefore be arrested for such a breach and if found guilty can be punished with imprisonment or a fine. A breach of an undertaking is dealt with by the Court and will require a separate application for sanctions to be imposed.
Legal Aid is available to apply for these protective Orders if you are in receipt of a limited income. Your income will need to be assessed against the Legal Aid Agency’s criteria.
We can provide you with bespoke advice as to your options for protection from harm as a result of domestic abuse. Call us on 0800 118 1500 to find out how we can help you today.