As the Covid-19 pandemic rages outside, the Government have issued a strong warning to everyone that your home is the safest place to be. But for some, home is not a haven from violence and abuse. Self-isolation and stay at home restrictions will force many victims of abuse and their children to effectively be shut in with their abusers.
Domestic abuse is not just about physical violence, controlling or coercive behaviour. Many victims of domestic violence can be subjected to mental, emotional and financial abuse by their partners that can have devastating and often long term affects upon them and their children. No one should experience or witness violence, abuse or harassment in their own homes.
What help is available?
If you are in imminent danger you should call 999 immediately. As domestic violence has been criminalised the police will be able to take the appropriate measures to protect your safety and may prosecute the abuser(s).
If the police are unable to assist, there are some civil remedies by way of injunctive orders that may provide you with the protection you need.
1. Non-Molestation Order
A non-molestation order provides temporary protection from violence, threats of violence, abusive behaviour, intimidation and harassment including in the form of text messages, emails and telephone calls. It can also be extended to include refraining from damage to property, protecting children and can restrict a person from coming within certain proximity of the family home. You can apply for such an order if the abuser is someone you are in a relationship with or living with or a family member.
If you and your partner live within the same house, the Court also has the power to prevent the abusive party from entering certain rooms or areas of the house. This can be used as an alternative to an occupation order and may be an option when self-isolation is necessary.
A non-molestation order carries an automatic power of arrest meaning that if the abuser continues the behaviour they will be immediately arrested by the police and brought before the civil court to face sanctions including possible imprisonment or fine for being in contempt of court. It is also a criminal offence and could lead to up to five years in prison.
2. Occupation Order
An occupation order can be obtained alongside a non-molestation order or as a stand-alone order. If granted, it can force the abusive party to leave the family home temporarily, even if they own the property, until the safety of the victim is secured, whilst continuing to make payments towards bills. It too can restrict that party from coming within a fixed perimeter of the property or other address.
Occupation orders where one party is ousted from their property are considered to be draconian and so the Court will look very closely at whether such stringent measures are necessary. When considering whether to grant an occupation order, the factors the Court will take into account include whether you and any children are at risk of suffering significant harm from the other party if an order is not made as well as the housing needs and financial resources of the parties.
Occupation orders can also carry an automatic power of arrest.
Get in touch
If you are self-isolating or staying at home, in an abusive relationship and are worried about your own and/or your children’s safety please contact us at Vyman Solicitors. We have a specialist family team who have extensive experience in dealing with domestic violence matters and are available to give advice and assistance in strict confidence on any issues or concerns that you may have. We have facilities in place to communicate with you remotely during the pandemic. In very serious cases it is possible to obtain emergency orders from the Court within 24 hours despite the current social distancing restrictions being in place.
Do not suffer in silence. If you need help or advice or wish to arrange a remote meeting with a member of the family team, please contact us on 020 8429 1010 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.