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Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse and harassment have a devastating effect on both the victims as well as other family members. Any form of abuse is distressing, but where the perpetrator is a family member this can make the situation even worse, making the victim feel even more helpless. Domestic abuse is reported as accounting for 16-25% of all recorded violent crimes, with an assault by a partner in the home occurring every six seconds in the UK. Contacting the police and using the criminal court system can be overwhelming but there are also civil and family law routes that can be used for protection. Our expert family lawyers can discuss the best possible options for you while understanding that these situations are incredibly private and stressful and so will handle them with the utmost confidentiality.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is defined as “any incident or pattern of incidents of coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”. The relevant abuse can be either physical, sexual, financial, psychological or emotional. Unfortunately, these incidents are rarely a one-off and often the abuse gets worse over time.

Domestic abuse does not necessarily involve physical violence but can take many forms, including threatening behaviour including pressuring threats, harassment including following a person or checking their phone and email, verbal abuse (including criticising, accusatory or belittling behaviour), isolating a person as well as physical or sexual violence.

What options are available to help in Domestic Abuse situations?

Most incidents of domestic violence or abuse are criminal offences, which means that the police are able to arrest, caution or charge the person responsible. Since 2014, victims have been given additional protection even where there is not enough evidence for there to be a prosecution. Domestic Violence Protection Orders allow the police and the Courts to set up protection for a victim immediately following an incident involving domestic abuse. These orders allow victims some time to consider their situation without being under pressure or influence from the perpetrator. The police and other agencies can support the victim through this period. When such an order is granted, the perpetrator will be immediately banned from returning to the home address or from having any contact with the victim for 28 days. If the order is breached then the police can arrest the perpetrator and criminal court proceedings can be initiated.

In the long-term, it may be that other protection or orders are necessary. The Family Courts can offer protection to victims of domestic abuse and violence under the Family Law Act 1996. Two court orders that can be used in these situations are:

  1. A non-molestation order, which prevents a person from using or threatening violence to another person or from molesting them. It can also prevent a person from encouraging or engaging another person to use or threaten violence against that person. If this order is breached then this is a criminal offence that can result in arrest and criminal prosecution.
  2. An occupation order, which states who is allowed to live at the family home and who cannot live there for a set period of time for the protection of a person or their children. The order can be adapted to the situation and can prevent someone from being near the family home, from entering the home at all or from accessing certain areas of the home. It does not matter if the victim does not own the home or has been locked out of the home, the Court can make orders to circumvent these facts. With a rented property, the tenancy agreement can be transferred into another person’s name to satisfy the order. The Court can also make an order for the partner that has been made to leave to make payments for the mortgage or rent where the partner remaining does not have the necessary funds to do this themselves. It is possible to attach a power of arrest to these orders, allowing the police to arrest the partner without a warrant, if the order is breached by them.

There is also protection offered by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which prevents a partner from harassing or assaulting their partner. If this order is breached then the police can arrest the person and it carries a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment. There is no need for actual violence for a breach to occur, a threat of violence would also constitute a breach. Harassment is defined as happening on two separate occasions though they do not need to be close together in time or even of a similar act or nature.

The orders do not have a set length and this will depend on the circumstances of each case. They can last for weeks or even years.

What should you do if you are a victim of Domestic Abuse?

If you fear for your safety or that of others then the police should be contacted. Where you have already suffered injuries then you need to have a record of these taken, which can be used in evidence to support your case. Attending your GP or hospital will ensure there is a valid record of independent evidence.

Contact our Expert Domestic Abuse Lawyers Bradford Today?

Call us on 01274 350 546 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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