Women’s Aid defines domestic abuse as an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. It is very common. In the vast majority of cases, but by no means in all, it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by men.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Coercive control (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence)
- Psychological and/or emotional abuse
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Harassment and stalking
- Online or digital abuse
If you are experiencing domestic violence, one of the most difficult steps is often acknowledging that you are a victim. The legal scope of domestic violence protections is not limited to violence which is physical or sexual in its nature; it also now extends to what is called ‘coercive or controlling behaviour’ - essentially psychological and emotional abuse.
The immediate steps to take in the event of domestic violence are contacting the police and finding somewhere safe to stay. The police may decide to make a domestic violence protection notice (DVPN) which allows them to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident. These protections generally ban the alleged perpetrator of violence, with immediate effect, from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim The DVPN must be reviewed by a magistrate after 48 hours, who may decide to impose a domestic violence protection order (DVPO) which extends the restrictions for 14 to 28 days.
There are two main legal remedies which can be applied by the court.
This is a type of injunction designed to prevent your partner or ex-partner from being violent or threatening violence, intimidating, harassing or pestering you or your children. It can be made against anyone who has demonstrated these types of behaviours and with whom you have had a close relationship - such as a spouse, civil partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, co-habitee or family member. This type of order can apply to any sort of contact, including by telephone, email, social media.
This injunction aims to deal with the situation where you are living together in a shared family home with the perpetrator of domestic violence. The court can decide to order them to move out and stay away from the home, or apply specific restrictions such as requiring them to sleep in a different bedroom. An occupation order may be granted in addition to a non-molestation order.