According to the ONS, five in 100 adults experience domestic abuse in the UK, but only around half of these incidents are ever reported to the police. Domestic abuse is a crime and as such, you have certain legal rights which are designed to protect you from harm perpetrated by an abuser.

If you or a loved one have experienced domestic abuse, it is vital that you are aware of your rights and the protective measures that are available to you.

What is domestic abuse?

There is no legal definition of domestic violence, but according to Citizen’s Advice, domestic abuse comes from a family member, partner or ex-partner. It can include:

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Violent or threatening behaviour
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Coercive behaviour – for example, humiliation or intimidation
  • Controlling behaviour – for example, making someone feel less important or dependent on the abuser
  • ‘Economic abuse’ – this includes controlling someone’s possessions or how they earn or spend money

How can you recognise it?

Domestic abuse isn’t always easy to recognise and can take on many different forms. However, if you do believe that you or a loved one is a victim of domestic abuse, there are some signs to look out for:

  • Being withdrawn, or being isolated from family and friends
  • Having bruises, burns, or bite marks
  • Having your finances controlled, or not being given enough to buy food or pay bills
  • Not being allowed to leave your house, or stopped from going to college or work
  • Having your internet or social media use monitored, or someone else reading your texts, emails, or letters
  • Being repeatedly belittled or put down
  • Being pressured into sex or sexual contact

Legal recourse

Domestic abuse is dealt with both the criminal law and the civil law. The civil law heard in Family or County Court is primarily aimed at protection (or in some cases, compensation) and does not require police involvement. However, the criminal law is primarily aimed at punishing the offender, and the police will work with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to initiate the process.

There are two types of injunctions you can apply for in the Family Court to protect yourself or your children:

  • An occupation order – where you can exclude someone from your home, order them to stay in certain parts of the home at certain times or order them to continue to pay the mortgage, rent or bills.

When deciding whether to grant an occupation order, the court will consider several factors including the housing needs and resources of you, your abuser, and any dependants.

  • A non-molestation order – to prevent someone from being violent, threatening violence, harassing, or intimidating you.  You can apply for a non-molestation order even if you live with your abuser.

When deciding whether to grant a non-molestation order, the court will consider all circumstances, including the need to secure the health, safety, and wellbeing of you and any children.

If you have evidence that you or your children have been victims of domestic abuse or violence and you cannot afford to pay legal costs, you may be eligible for legal aid to help with the related costs.

At RHL Solicitors, we’re here to help make your life easier when it comes to legal support, while providing you with an exceptionally high standard of care.

Our Bristol-based team don’t just try to reach a settlement for you; we help to resolve legal disputes and achieve the very best outcome by tailoring our advice to your own individual needs.

If you seek the advice and service of specialist legal experts with decades of experience, contact our Family Law team who will be more than happy to discuss your matter further.

RHL Solicitors will have no delays or waiting times in advising you on your situation and will be quick to get you the support and care you deserve.