Domestic Abuse within the English Law is described as any incident or a series of incidents of controlling, threatening, coercive, abusive behaviour or violence between people who are associated. So as to bring an action for Domestic Abuse within the Family Law Act, you must be associated with the abuser.
Examples of associated persons are those who have been in an intimate/sexual relationship, family members, those with parental responsibility of the same child, parties to the same court proceedings and those who have resided in the same property other than by reason of landlord-tenant relationship.
Normally, there is misconception that domestic abuse has to involve physical abuse – this is not the case; domestic abuse can take different forms and can include:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Psychological Abuse, and
- Financial Abuse.
The UK Government has been proactive in prioritising and developing the law, schemes and agencies to address the issue of domestic abuse in all aspects. For example, there is law governing victims of Forced Marriages; Financial Abuse is now acknowledged as a form of domestic abuse; there are specific agencies and funding available to assist male victims of domestic and sexual abuse, women and young people.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, it is important to protect yourself by reporting the abuse to relevant domestic abuse agencies [https://www.gov.uk/report-domestic-abuse] or to the police. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify conduct which may amount to domestic abuse, especially where the victim has become accustomed to abusive behaviour; for example, receiving constant unwelcome text messages, nuisance calls, abusive messages on social media, emotional and psychological abuse and so on. This form of conduct amount to domestic abuse [for associated persons] and you are entitled to obtain an injunction known as a Non-Molestation Order within the Family Law Act. Such order can be tailored to meet your needs where necessary, for instance, it can prohibit your abuser from going within a certain distance of your property or street, contacting you directly, via social media or via third parties.
You can also apply for such person to be excluded from the property, which you share or they have a legal or matrimonial right to occupy. Breach of Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence and it is always advisable to report any breach to the police and retain proof in case they need to take further action.
Victims of domestic abuse are not required to pay a fee to the court to issue this application and can be eligible for Legal Aid if their income is low. However, it is not always the case that one will qualify for Legal Aid. If you wish to take legal action in relation to domestic abuse and are unsure how to proceed, speak to our experts at AGR Law for further advice.
Any form of abuse is not acceptable. If you are not associated with your abuser, you can still bring legal action to protect yourself from harassment. It is strongly advisable to report any form of abuse to the police first as they may be able to deal with the issue by issuing warnings, restraining orders or even criminal legal action against your abuser.
For the police to bring legal action, the nature of the case would need to meet their criteria or threshold for such action to be taken. If the threshold is not met, you might find your recourse within the civil law. Talk to us at AGR Law and our experts will be able to assist further