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 that 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. In England and Wales, 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.
In Scotland, you can report a domestic violence incident to the local police or access the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme.
You should ask a lawyer about the best way to protect yourself and your family from domestic violence. There are two main legal remedies that 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, cohabitee or family member. This type of order can apply to any sort of contact, including by telephone, email, social media.
In Scotland, this type of order is known as a 'non-harassment order'. A non-harassment order is a type of injunction designed to prevent your partner or ex-partner from deliberately causing you alarm or distress. It can be made against anyone who is harassing you - such as a spouse, civil partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, cohabitee or family member - however, you must know the identity of the person who is harassing you. 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.
In Scotland, this type of order is known as an 'exclusion order' and may be granted in addition to a non-harassment order.
Domestic violence and divorce
Sometimes domestic violence leads to divorce; in other cases, it is a result of divorce. Either way, it can make it impossible to agree on the practical implications of your divorce, such as sorting out finances or deciding on arrangements for your children. You may need to go to court to decide on the important matters, which is often a more lengthy process. If tensions are resolved over time, you may then be able to use an online divorce service that can speed up the divorce.