domesticviolence

Domestic violence and domestic abuse

Domestic violence and domestic abuse

According to the office of national statistics, in the year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year (1.6 million women and 786,000 men). The police recorded 746,219 domestic abuse-related crimes in the year ending March 2019, an increase of 24% from the previous year.

We should note that the above figures are reported figures. Many victims suffer in silence, in fear of what may happen if they report the crime. It is not just the criminal repercussions of their abuser that they fear. It is the emotional turmoil many other emotions. During lockdown, when victims are being faced with constantly living with their abuser, raising the alarm must be so much harder to do.

It is important for victims of domestic abuse and coercive control to be provided with the information they need to take steps to free themselves from violence and abuse.

The following national helplines are available to all:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Phone: 0808 2000 247

Women’s Aid Domestic Violence Helpline

Free 24-hour national helpline run by Women’s Aid and Refuge.

Phone: 0808 2000 247

Domestic Violence Assist

Specialises in assistance to obtain emergency injunctions from being further abused.

Phone: 0800 195 8699

Men’s Advice Line

Confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse.

Phone: 0808 801 0327

National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people.

Phone: 0800 999 5428

National Centre for Domestic Violence

Specialises in assistance to get emergency injunctions from being further abused.

Phone: 0800 970 2070

National Stalking Helpline

Guidance on the law, how to report stalking, gathering evidence, staying safe and reducing the risk.

Phone: 0808 802 0300

Victim Support

Free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family and friends.

Phone: 08 08 16 89 111

FLOWS

Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors, is a legal support service, designed to help protect women against domestic abuse.

Phone: 0203 745 7707

Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people)

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse.

Phone: 0800 999 5428

Victims can also take practical steps to protect themselves by doing the following:

  1. Ensuring a fully charged mobile phone is at hand in case of emergencies
  2. Taking note of both the emergency and local police station telephone numbers (the local police can now be contacted by dialling 101) and the numbers of any relevant organisation, such as social services
  3. Memorising telephone numbers for trusted friends and relatives
  4. Agreeing a code word to use when calling others to identify that the police should be alerted
  5. Asking trusted friends or relatives to check on you
  6. Keeping your car fuelled and ready to go with a spare key at hand
  7. Having a bag of essential items at a place of safety containing cash, clothing, important documents and telephone numbers read

What is domestic abuse and violence?

Domestic violence or abuse includes all kinds of physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse between people who are, or were, in a relationship with each other or are family members over the age of 16. There is no statutory definition of domestic abuse, however the domestic abuse bill will create one.

Domestic violence or abuse may include:

  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Damaging property
  • Threats
  • Criticism
  • Harassment
  • Controlling behaviour, such as:
      • Isolating someone from sources of support;
      • Reducing their independence;
      • Trying to control their behaviour; or
      • Exploiting them
  • Coercive behaviour, such as trying to harm, punish or frighten someone by use of:
      • Violence;
      • Threats;
      • Humiliation; or
      • Intimidation

Emergency protection orders

The courts have wide powers to protect you from violence committed by, or threatened by, a person associated with you.

Non molestation order

A non-molestation order is used to stop someone from:

  • Using or threatening violence against you
  • Using or threatening violence to a child
  • Molesting you in any way

Molesting can include:

Behaviour that harms, troubles, vexes, annoys or inconveniences you or any relevant children.

Molestation can be direct or committed indirectly and includes behaviour, such as:

  • Physical harm
  • Verbal abuse or threats
  • Pestering another person
    • In writing or through social media
    • Through a third party
  • Intimidation
  • Persistent abusive text message, phone calls or messages on social media
  • Threats
  • Harassment

Molesting can also include pushing, punching, slapping, hair pulling, throwing objects and spitting.

A non-molestation order can also be used to keep a person away from a particular place such as the area around your home or your workplace.

For an application to be successful there must be evidence:

  • Of the behaviour complained of
  • That the applicant or a child are in need of protection
  • That an order is needed to control the behaviour of the abuser

An order only becomes effective when it has been served on the abuser. Typically, a non-molestation order is made for six to twelve months but it is possible to apply for further orders. Breaching a non-molestation order is a criminal offence punishable with up to five years imprisonment or as a contempt of court.

Occupation order

An occupation order determines who will live at the family home. An occupation order can be used to exclude someone completely from a property or can set out rules to enable a property to be shared.

Granting an order depends on the relationship of the parties and their rights to occupy the property in question. For an application to be successful the “balance of harm” test must be applied. Essentially the judge will consider whether you or any child is likely to suffer significant harm due to the conduct of the other party if the occupation order is not made. The test includes the need to consider whether making an occupation order will cause greater harm to the other party and any child.

If the judge does not find sufficient reason under the balance of harm test, an application might still be brought.

The court will consider all the circumstances of the case, including the:

  • Housing needs of the parties
  • Financial resources of the parties
  • Likely effect of any decision by the court not to exercise its powers on the health, safety or wellbeing of you and any child
  • Conduct of the parties to each other

Occupation orders are intended to determine temporary living arrangements to give the applicant and respondent time to organise where they will live and how they will divide their property.

An occupation order can be made for a period of up to six months, but it is possible to apply for further orders when this expires.

If you need any advice or help concerning domestic violence or abuse, please do not hesitate to contact me at familylawyerlondon.

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