Personal safety is a huge issue within the UK. The office of national statistics in their latest figures in November 2018 announced that 7.9% women (1.3 Million) and 4.2% of men (695,000) had experienced some form of domestic abuse within the previous 12 months. With these shocking statistics it is vitally important to know what protection is available to them.
- Identify the Abuse:
Many people simply don’t identify themselves as being the victims of abuse. It can be often misunderstood that domestic abuse is just physical. It is not. The law categorises abuse as being physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or coercive control. Coercive control is when a person with whom you are personally connected, repeatedly behaves in a way which makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated or scared. It is important to recognise these behaviours at the earliest opportunity and to seek appropriate protection.
- Contact the police:
The police should always be the first port of call when it comes to domestic abuse issues. Any incidents should be reported as quickly as possible. Often the police can assist in speaking to the other individual which in turn can bring an end to any further problems. It is also vitally important if you intend to go to Court to demonstrate that you have involved or attempted to involve the police. The police and courts consider abuse seriously.
- Consider a warning letter:
Often in cases involving non immediate danger or a low level of harassment, the police will be unwilling to intervene and the Courts will not deem the same to be serious enough to warrant an injunction. In those cases, lawyers can intervene by preparing what is known as a “Warning letter.” Warning letters put the other party on notice that the behaviour is unacceptable and that they should stop immediately. A letter can be prepared quickly and relatively cheaply. A warning letter can be used as evidence at a later stage should the behaviour continue. It may be all that is needed to prevent further abuse.
- Apply Ex parte:
In cases deemed serious enough because of an immediate threat of harm, a Non Molestation Order can be applied for an Ex parte basis. What this means is that the other party is not present at Court at the time of the application. The Court can make a short term order to provide you with immediate protection but would then fix a second hearing a few days later to hear from the other party. It is also worthwhile noting that no Court fees are payable on Non-Molestation cases.
- Consider Occupation Orders for a shared property:
Often it can be the case that following the breakdown of a relationship there is a shared property. Strictly speaking both parties have a right of occupation of that property but it is clearly inappropriate for both parties to remain in that property where there is a risk of domestic abuse. Occupation Orders are short term orders to exclude one party from the property. They are frequently made alongside Non Molestation Orders and therefore are a good tool to protect an individual
It is important for any victim of domestic abuse to know there is the vital protection out there and that the help they need is easily accessible with the assistance of a qualified lawyer.