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Domestic abuse is a wide-ranging term that encompasses all forms of physical, sexual and psychological abuse within an intimate or family relationship. It includes, but is not limited to: threatening language or physical intimidation; shouting and verbal abuse; pestering; persistent, unwanted phone calls, text messages, emails or social networking messages; damage to property; violence including kicking, slapping, shoving and punching.
Whilst the majority of victims of domestic abuse are women in heterosexual relationships, it can also take place in lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender relationships, and can involve other family members. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is, sadly, commonplace. A lot of people put up with it because they don’t know how to deal with it or how to get out of it.
What can we do?
We will offer you a priority, same-day or next-day appointment to discuss your situation and assist you to find a remedy. We will not judge you. We know that relationships involving domestic abuse can be very difficult to leave for a number of reasons.
If we feel that you need immediate protection, we can make an application to the Court for an injunction. If your situation does not require an immediate application to the court, we can write a warning letter to your abuser, warning of the consequences of court action if the abuse is not stopped.
There are two types of orders that can be applied for:
A non-molestation order: this prevents the abuser from continuing to abuse you and can prohibit them from coming within a certain distance of you, your child and/ or your home. As of 1st July 2007 breach of this order is a criminal offence and is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
An occupation order: this may be appropriate if you live with your abuser. The order can be used to make sure that you can remain in or re-enter your home, to the exclusion of the abuser. A “power of arrest” can be attached to the order which means that the police would be able to arrest the abuser if he or she breaches the order and tried to re-enter the home.
Without Notice applications
A Without Notice application (or Ex-parte application as it is known) is made by one party without the other party being aware of it or being given notice of the proceedings. The non-molestation order is made by the court and once the other party becomes aware of it – usually through a process server handing the other party the papers, the other party is bound by the terms of the order and any breach would be a criminal offence. This type of application can be made when there is a need for urgent and immediate protection and any delay may endanger you or any child.
Factors the Court will consider
Each case is unique and the court will take your individual circumstances into consideration. When making the order, the court will take your health, safety and well-being into account (and consider any children involved). The court will also assess how they think an order will help the situation.
In relation to Occupation orders the Court will look at the significant harm that the victim or child may suffer if the order is not made, as well as looking at the health and housing needs of both parties.
What can you do?
If you are in an abusive relationship, get help now. We recognise that you may feel reluctant to call the police if an incident has happened, or seek legal advice; but the best thing you can do is get advice.
Leadenhall Law Group Family Department has eighteen years of experience in this area of law. One of our senior solicitors is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in Domestic Abuse.