• Statistics suggest there has been a steep increase in those suffering from domestic abuse due to the isolation and increasing tension caused by lockdowns and other restrictions over the past year.

    Refuge, the charity supporting victims of domestic violence, reported a 34% increase in calls from women to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline in 2020 compared with 2019 in an article produced with GQ this week to mark International Women’s Day.

    Domestic abuse can be any behaviour that is threatening, bullying, degrading or manipulative and, although abuse may be physical, it can also be physiological, emotional, or financial.

    While those suffering may feel more alone than ever in the midst of the current lockdown, there are ways that you can protect yourself.

    Non-molestation orders

    The first step for anyone experiencing domestic abuse would be to seek advice on obtaining a non-molestation order. These orders are used to protect you if you have suffered or are continuing to suffer from domestic abuse at the hands of current and former partners, or other family members.

    They are put in place by the court as a way of safeguarding the health and safety of the adults and children involved. The order will specify the terms, which may include that the other party is not to come within a certain proximity, or that they are not to contact you either directly or indirectly.

    Breaches of non-molestation orders are taken very seriously, and on any breach, the offending party can be arrested by the Police.

    Occupation orders

    Depending on the circumstances, you may also be advised to apply to the court for an occupation order to be put in place. An occupation order determines who has the right to reside in the family home and who is to be excluded from it.

    When deciding whether to impose an occupation order, the court will always consider whether the applicant and any children will suffer significant harm if the order is not granted.

    It is important to note that the implementation of an occupation order does not change who legally owns a property, but simply sets out who can live in it for a specified period of time.

    Seeking advice

    Although current rules are to stay at home, these do not apply to people fleeing domestic abuse and you can take steps to protect yourself and your children.

    Both non-molestation and occupation orders can be applied for quickly in circumstances where a party urgently requires protection.

    If you would like to discuss the process and seek advice on the different options available to you in your individual circumstances, then please get in touch. To book an appointment and speak to one of our experienced team, please call 01622 690691.

    This content is correct at time of publication

    Can we help?

    Take a look at our Family and Divorce page for useful information, resources, guidance, details of our team and how we may be able to help you

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