What is domestic violence and abuse?
Sadly, domestic violence is still prevalent in today’s society. In fact, in an average year, around 2.1m people in the UK will suffer at the hands of a partner or former partner.
According to the UK government, domestic violence and abuse is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional.”
This highlights a critical fact: domestic violence does not always have to be physical. In fact, domestic abuse can take many forms, and in many cases, a victim will not even be aware of the manipulation they are experiencing when it has lasted over a long period of time. Abuse can become the norm for a victim, and this can be incredibly damaging to their mental health as well as any potential children involved.
If you are facing abuse of any nature, Neves’ domestic violence solicitors in Harpenden are here for you. We understand that you may feel anxious about speaking to a professional; which is why we aim to provide a safe space for victims to discuss their situation freely, taking as much time as is necessary.
Why does domestic abuse happen?
If you are suffering from domestic abuse, the first thing to realise is that you are not at fault. All too often, victims of domestic abuse are manipulated into believing that they are directly responsible for the harm they are experiencing in their own home. As a result, violent acts become habitual and no action is taken to prevent them.
In reality, domestic violence usually stems from the poor mental health of the perpetrator and their desire to regain control of their life. By having power over their partner, the attacker is able to displace the blame of such problems to the other party, punishing them for their own faults. This could be intensified through drugs, alcohol, stress or poor mental health, but these factors are never the sole cause and should not be used to excuse their behaviour.
What can I do to protect my family against domestic violence and abuse?
It is important for any victim of domestic abuse to first contact the Police.
In cases of physical assault, the attacker will be arrested straight away, ensuring you receive immediate protection from the perpetrator. The Police can also serve a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on an abusive partner if they present a risk of violent behaviour e.g. if they become violent after consuming alcohol on a regular basis.
Civil injunctions are considered when the Police cannot or will not intervene and take steps to adequately protect the victim.
The Family Law Act 1996 specifically deals with orders that the Court can make in circumstances where the Applicant has suffered domestic violence from an ‘associated person’ – such persons include partners, ex-partners, spouses, ex-spouses and even family members.
The Act allows the Court to make injunctions requiring the perpetrator not to intimidate, harass, pester, threaten or cause violence to the victim (Non-molestation Orders) and/or a relevant child. The Court can also order that the perpetrator does not enter, attempt to enter, or even go within a certain distance of a property that he otherwise would have access to, for example, the family home (Occupation Orders).
These orders can last up to 12 months. In some circumstances, the Court can make these orders without the perpetrator being notified first i.e. without notice applications. These applications are made when the domestic violence is extremely serious and the victim believes that he/she would be at risk if the perpetrator was informed of their intention to obtain an injunction against them.
If such an order is granted by the Court, rather than lasting 12 months, the case will return to Court usually within 7-14 days so that the perpetrator can put forward his/her representations. The idea behind this is so that the victim is protected immediately from the without notice injunction but the perpetrator also has the opportunity to be heard at the next hearing.
What if the terms of the court order are breached?
Non-Molestation Orders now automatically attach powers for the Police to arrest the person named in the order if the terms of the order are breached.
The police and the Courts take breaches of injunctions very seriously. If a breach occurs, the police can prosecute the perpetrator through the criminal courts or alternatively, the victim can commit the perpetrator to prison through the civil Courts. Prison sentences of up to 5 years can be imposed.
How can Neves’ domestic violence solicitors help?
When you instruct Neves’ domestic violence solicitors to help protect you from your partner’s abusive behaviour, our priority will be to prevent your partner from being in proximity to you and your children. No matter how minor you believe an incident to be, our team will always take each report seriously and assess it in detail to determine the best approach for protecting you and your family. Due to the nature of domestic violence, our aim will be to ensure your situation is dealt with as quickly as possible and an order is set up with minimal delay to prevent any further harm coming to you or your family.
As a team of family law specialists, you can count on our domestic violence and abuse solicitors in Harpenden for expert advice regardless of how complex your situation may be. If you would like to speak to us about your options please contact our family team.
For more information read our information leaflet on Domestic Abuse.
Worried about a friend’s new partner?
Is a scheme allowing police to disclose to individuals details of their partners’ abusive past.
Clare’s Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, has two functions:
• ‘Right to ask’ - this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme; and
• ‘Right to know’ - police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.
Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/clares-law-rolled-out-nationally-on-international-womens-day to find out more information about Clare's Law
Women's Aid 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247