Domestic Abuse and Harassment
Domestic abuse describes a range of behaviours, including physical, sexual, emotional or financial control over another, with whom the abuser has a relationship, including family members. Domestic abuse can cover a very wide range of circumstances that may have happened or may have been threatened.
Our experience shows that domestic abuse happens in all groups and sections of society, and is not exclusively by men against women. It can also be understood and experienced differently based on your age, gender, sexuality, culture, class, disability or mental health.
We have a 24-hour emergency telephone number (07584 033464), as we understand that you may need advice or assistance outside office hours.
Our skilled team can advise you about steps that you can take to protect yourself (and any children you may have), whether you are living separately from an abusive partner or still sharing a home.
Members of our team have worked extensively with local refuges, social services and the National Centre for Domestic Violence. We are therefore well placed to provide all the practical help you need. Some of our team also have accreditation from Resolution in this field.
If your circumstances are particularly serious, we may need to make an urgent application to court to obtain orders to protect you. The two main types are:
- Non-molestation order: This is intended to protect you from actual violence or the threat of it, and also prohibits your abuser from threatening, intimidating or harassing you or your children. Any breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence, and, if found guilty, your abuser can face up to five years in prison.
- Occupation order: This order prevents your abuser from coming into your home or returning to a specific area around it ("exclusion order"). A power of arrest can be attached to this type of order, meaning that your abuser can be arrested if the order is breached. Breach of an order can carry a prison sentence. It is generally difficult to get an occupation order without your abuser being aware of it, as the court will usually want to hear evidence from both people involved, especially where you are trying to exclude an abuser from a jointly owned property.
Both types of order are usually made for an initial short period, at the end of which a second hearing will take place. Both types of order can last for 12 months, although in certain circumstances can be extended.
We can offer legal aid in relation to this type of matter in certain circumstances. Please contact one of our specialists for further advice on this.