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Domestic Violence and Protective Orders

According to Women’s Aid:- 

  • One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.
  • One in four women experience domestic violence
  • One in six men experience domestic violence
  • On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. 

Statistics which were reported in the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) suggests that 30% of women and 16.3% of men will experience domestic abuse during their lifetimes. (Office for National Statistics (2013). Focus on violent crime and sexual offences 2012/13 – Chapter 4: Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse. Retrieved from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_352362.pdf) 

In 2009 Clare Wood was killed by an ex-partner who unknown to her had been violent to ex-partners. This brought about the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme (also known as Clare’s Law). This scheme allows the person in a new relationship (or their friends or family) the right to ask the police, whether that new (or existing) partner has a record of committing domestic abuse with ex-partners. 

What is Domestic Violence? 

The Government defines domestic violence as:

“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality."

(https://www.gov.uk/domestic-violence-and-abuse) 

It is quite common for individuals to misinterpret what constitutes domestic violence, believing that it only relates to physical abuse. This is not the case. There are different types of abuse in addition to physical abuse that constitute domestic violence. This includes:- 

  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse 

What is controlling and coercive behaviour? 

Again, the government defines controlling and coercive behaviour as:-

(https://www.gov.uk/domestic-violence-and-abuse

  • Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
  • Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. 

What action can be taken against domestic violence and abuse? 

A common statement is “Why don’t they just leave?” 

It is not so simple. One of the most dangerous times for a victim of domestic violence is when a victim attempts to leave. This equally puts any children at risk.  There is also the fact that nearly a third (31%) of referrals to a refuge in 2013/14 were turned away because of lack of space. 

So what options are available to victims of domestic violence? 

Reporting incidents to the police 

If the police take action and the perpetrator continues to behave inappropriately or if the police cannot prosecute or take any action, then there are other options available within the civil realm. Civil applications for protective orders, such as Non-Molestation Orders (aka Injunctions) and Occupation Orders can be made. 

What is a Non-Molestation Order?

A Non-Molestation Order is an Order which is applied for by the person being subjected to the domestic violence (“the Applicant”) whereby the other party (“the Respondent”):- 

  1. Is forbidden to use or threaten violence against them and must not instruct or encourage or in any way suggest that any other person should do so and/or;  
  2. Is forbidden to intimidate, harass or pester them, or instruct, encourage or in any other way suggest that any other person should do so. 
  3. Is forbidden from taking any other action the Court may specify. 

Identical Orders can be made in respect of children (if appropriate). 

If a Non-Molestation Order is breached, it becomes a criminal offence, meaning the police can take action for any breaches. 

Who can apply for a Non-Molestation Order? 

In order to apply for a Non-Molestation Order you must be an 'associated person'. This means you and your partner or ex-partner must be related or associated with each other in one of the following ways: 

  • You are or have been married to each other.
  • You are or have been in a civil partnership with each other;
  • You are cohabitants or former cohabitants (including same sex couples) 
  • You live or have lived in the same household.
  • You are relatives. This includes:-

(a)     father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandson, granddaughter of the respondent or of the respondent's spouse

(b)   The brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or first cousin (whether of the full blood or of the half blood or by marriage or by civil partnership) of the respondent or of the respondent's spouse, former spouse, civil partner or former civil partner. 

How to obtain a Non-Molestation Order: 

  1. On Notice – this is an application to the Family Court and the Respondent is given notice of the hearing;
  2. Without Notice – this is an application to the Family Court and the Respondent is not given notice, meaning that the Court would hear the matter on an urgent basis without the Respondent being present. Without Notice applications are only applied for in urgent circumstances where it would not be reasonable to give the Respondent notice. 

In the event you do not fall into the category to apply for a non-Molestation Order, then you could contact your local Police Station and request that they deal with the matter under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.  

Occupation Orders: how to get violent partners to leave 

In addition to applying for a Non-Molestation Order, you may also consider applying for an Occupation Order. You may consider this if the property you are living in is owned jointly with the other person or if the tenancy is held jointly with another person. 

The most usual Occupation Orders are requiring a violent partner to leave the home. 

However they may include:-

  1.  Orders that an excluded party return. 
  2. Orders specifying which part of the home the party may occupy and at what times of the day. 
  3. Orders specifying that a party has a right to occupy the property. 
  4. An Order keeping a party out of an area surrounding the home. 
  5. Orders relating to:- 

(a)    maintenance and repair

(b)    payment of rent

(c)     payment of mortgage

(d)    payment of other outgoings

(e)    payments to the party out of occupation

(f)     use and possession of furniture, contents and provision as to taking good care of it

(g)    keeping the home secure 

These Orders tend to be coupled with an application for a Non-Molestation Order but can also be applied for independently. 

Legal advice about domestic violence

For more information or advice about any of the above, contact the Family Law team based at each of our Leicester, Hinckley and Market Harborough offices, using the contact details below:

Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.

Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.

Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.

Domestic violence contacts - Leicestershire

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