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Domestic Abuse Solicitors

If you have suffered domestic violence or abuse you should report the matter to the police, where you can, as soon as possible.

The most recent report from the Office for National Statistics (Mar 2022-Mar 2023) estimated that 2.1 million people aged 16 years and over had experienced domestic abuse in England and Wales. Of that number, less than 50% of cases (889,918) were reported to the police. 

Our experience as domestic abuse solicitors highlights that abuse can affect anyone; from every walk of life. It doesn’t show up purely as violence either, it can take many forms of behaviour and can affect individuals or entire families. 

It is not always easy for victims to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and understand the legal protection that is available for them and their children, so we will look at the various types of domestic abuse, alongside how we can protect and support our clients. 

What is the definition of domestic abuse? 

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour that occurs between two people who are personally connected, whether through a current or previous relationship, family ties or personal services. Abusive behaviour from one person to another can include (but is not limited to): 

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Violent or threatening behaviour
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour
  • Psychological or emotional abuse. 

Economic abuse

Economic abuse is an additional detail linked to domestic abuse, instead focusing on finances. The UK government defines economic abuse as ‘any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on the other person’s ability to acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or to obtain goods and services.’ Economic abuse is linked directly to domestic abuse due to the ramifications it can have on the affected individual. 

If you have suffered domestic violence or abuse you should report the matter to the police, where you can, as soon as possible.

What is the Family Law Act 1996?

Part four of the Family Law Act (FLA) 1996 was put into place to safeguard people experiencing marriage breakdown and divorce, rights of occupation, mediation in disputes relating to family matters and domestic abuse/molestation within a familial relationship. Individuals are able to apply for occupation orders, non-molestation orders and further family home-related orders to protect themselves, or their children, from the abuser. More detail regarding non-molestation orders and occupation orders can be found below. 

What is a non-molestation order? 

A non-molestation order (also referred to as an injunction) is one of the ways we can support our clients and help stop domestic abuse from happening in the future. We can apply to the court for an injunction that is intended to stop a family member or partner from using, or threatening, violence against you or your child(ren). It can also be used to stop the abuser contacting you, coming near your home or place of work. 

What is an occupation order? 

An occupation order may be necessary to come to an agreement on who will reside in the family home. The order determines who is to remain in the property, and what, if any, access is permitted to the other party. These are most commonly required when an individual has suffered domestic abuse and wants the other inhabitant to leave the home due to safety concerns. We are able to apply for an occupation order on behalf of our clients, however it is worth noting that there will usually have to be clear evidence of violence for this order to succeed.

When applying for a non-molestation or occupation order, it is often possible to get an injunction on the same day as the application, due to the nature of the issue.  

What is the Protection from Harassment Act 1997?

Encompassing any behaviour that causes alarm or distress to the victim, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is designed to safeguard individuals from harassment, plus any other offences that cause fear of violence. Originally focused solely on stalking offences, it has since evolved to also include racial and anti-social behaviour, and carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, and/or an unlimited fine. 

How can Eric Robinson Solicitors help protect sufferers of domestic abuse? 

We are here to support you, deal with all the legalities around your domestic abuse case and help you feel safe. Your dedicated solicitor will provide actionable advice on how to deal with your personal circumstances, and we will complete all the necessary paperwork seeking the court orders required to get the correct injunctions in place for yourself and your family (if applicable). We strongly believe that no one should suffer in silence, so if you feel you are a victim of abuse, you can read our top tips for dealing with domestic abuse, or get in contact with your closest office to book a consultation to discuss your case in detail. 


Am I being domestically abused?

Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of behaviour between two personally connected people, where one person is abusive on a physical, sexual, violent, controlling, coercive, psychological, financial or emotional level. If you think you are being domestically abused, it is important to contact your local police station to report the incident. This can be done up to two years after the abuse took place.

How can I protect myself if I am the victim of domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is more common than you may think. It is said to affect one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime, so you are certainly not alone, but you’re not a statistic either.

If you have suffered domestic abuse then it is your right to take steps to protect yourself from it happening again. Abusers often rely on the fact that abuse often goes unreported, or is only reported at a later stage. They retain control by believing – and forcing you to believe – that you won’t report what is happening, but by telling someone what has been going on, you get some of that control back.

What should you do if you feel at risk of immediate harm?

If you feel at immediate risk of harm, you may need to call the Police for protection. The Police have powers to help. Although there is no specific crime of domestic abuse, many forms of domestic abuse are crimes and can be investigated and prosecuted.

The Police have powers to put protections in place while they are investigating what happened. They might place a condition on your abuser preventing them from coming to your home, or a condition which requires them to leave. There are a range of options depending on the circumstances. There are also independent organisations which can help – refuges and domestic abuse charities, for example.

How to report domestic abuse?

The easiest way to report domestic abuse is to contact your local police station. You can call them directly or visit in person and speak to someone who is specially trained in dealing with domestic complications. If this isn’t possible, you can call 101 in non-emergency situations, or 999 if it is an emergency.

Can you report abuse years later?

You have up to two years to report any instances of domestic abuse. This timeline was extended by the Government in January 2022.

When should I obtain legal advice?

Clear thought is hampered by the physical and emotional harm that domestic abuse inflicts. It is difficult to decide if, and how to deal with the abuse, and with your relationship. Also, you may not know what options are out there for you.

Talking to a specialist domestic abuse solicitor might sound like a big step to take, but it is the best way to really understand your situation and what you can do about it. You could also turn to domestic abuse organisations which can offer good practical advice and support.

What options do I have?

If you are in immediate danger, do something about it straightaway. Evaluate your situation, once you know your options, you will know what to do and when. What’s right for one person will not be right for another. It might not be in your best interests to take formal action, for example, because this could place you at greater risk.

If you don’t feel comfortable to take a certain step, don’t. You will know when the time is right to act. And we are here to help guide you if you need us.

Can I get a court order to prevent further domestic abuse from happening?

This is an Order made by a Family Court. It protects someone who has suffered, or is at risk of suffering from domestic abuse, by putting important protections in place. A non-molestation order is an injunction which can be sought in an emergency. It makes it an offence for your abuser to use or threaten violence against you, and to do other things such as communicate with you, or encourage others to.

There are specific legal requirements which need to be met before a non-molestation order will be granted. Talk to us about whether it would be appropriate for you.

What other considerations will arise when seeking a court order?

A Family Court can make an Occupation Order to protect a person who has suffered, or is at risk of suffering from domestic abuse. It is an injunction, but it specifically deals with the rights to occupy a property which is, or has been, lived in by both people.

The Court has wide powers. The most common Order is that the person suffering, or at risk of suffering the abuse, is allowed to remain in the property and the abuser is ordered to leave. Get legal advice on whether or not this would be an appropriate Order to apply for on an emergency or a non-emergency basis.

What if I don’t want to go to court?

The Court can offer important protections in cases of domestic abuse, but it isn’t always the first port of call. In fact sometimes, court action can make matters worse by inflaming a situation.

Sometimes a “warning letter” is the best option. This is a letter written by a solicitor to the abuser. It explains very clearly that the abuse is unacceptable and that, if repeated, formal action will be taken through the Police or the Family Courts.

This sort of warning can be very effective. If the abuse happens again, the letter is useful evidence; it often makes it more likely that the court will grant an injunction, or that the Police will take formal action.

How will my case be funded?

Although there have been dramatic cuts in legal funding for family work, it’s still available in some circumstances. People who have been assessed as suffering or at risk of suffering domestic abuse, or parents of children who have been similarly assessed, may be entitled to legal funding. You will need to satisfy a means test which looks at the amount of money you earn and spend.

If you qualify then your legal advice and representation will be either completely free or you may have to repay it but at a significantly reduced rate. We will be able to help you work out your best funding option.

Can I get legal aid?

It is possible to apply for legal aid for domestic abuse cases if you are not in a financial position to pay for the costs. You will need to satisfy a means test which looks at the amount of money you earn and spend, and provide evidence of the reported abuse and give this to your legal aid solicitor or CLA adviser (such as a letter from the police, the courts, social services etc).

Can you claim compensation?

Yes – there are two different types of claims you can pursue – Civil and Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). A civil claim is against your abuser personally, whereas a CICA claim is set up to provide compensation linked to domestic violence and abuse. It is worth noting that there are qualifying criteria that need to be met in order to claim through the CICA, but we can discuss this in more detail with you if you would like to proceed.

How does domestic abuse affect the family?

Witnessing or being a part of domestic abuse can affect the family in a variety of ways. One example is children involved in or observing abuse of a parent or sibling can deem it as normal behaviour and carry it forward into their adult lives. Another example is around personal behaviour and coping mechanisms. A child may go on to have a variety of behavioural problems or develop a range of mental health complications.

Is domestic abuse a criminal offence?

Domestic abuse is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum imprisonment term of five years, and/or an unlimited fine.

What is the domestic abuse act 2021?

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 was developed to provide victims of abuse with additional support, and to strengthen the response from the police and local authorities. It includes (but is not limited to) a clear definition of domestic abuse, alongside powers for dealing with domestic abuse, local authority support, protection for victims and witnesses and offences involving abusive or violent behaviour.

What can I do if someone I know is being abused?

First and foremost, it’s important to let them know you are there should they wish to talk to you about it. If you feel this person is in immediate danger, you can attempt to encourage them to call the police, or if you feel it’s necessary, call the police on their behalf.

Why is abuse not reported?

There are a multitude of reasons why domestic abuse is often not reported. Some of the key reasons are usually linked to worries about retaliation from the abuser or other consequences. Reasons can also be linked to children, such as fear of losing contact, alternatively a lack of trust or confidence in the local authorities.

How many cases go unreported?

It is estimated that around 2.1 million people aged 16 or over suffered from domestic abuse between March 2022 and March 2023 (latest ONS report statistics). Of this number, 889,918 (41.8%) were reported to the police.

Can domestic abuse charges be dropped?

It can be difficult for charges to be dropped by the victim once investigation into a domestic abuse case begins. Victims can make a request to their legal team to review, however the case will often advance to trial stage without any further statements from the victim.

Can you record domestic abuse?

Recorded incidents of domestic abuse can support your case in the family court. However, it is recommended you consult with a legal professional before doing so as safety is a prime concern and legal guidelines need to be adhered to.

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