Domestic Abuse: Everyone Needs a Safe House

1st May 2020

There is no legal definition of domestic abuse. However, the Government defines domestic abuse as “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: –

  • Psychological abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Emotional abuse

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support. Exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain. Depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group”.

In cases where there have been incidents of domestic abuse it may be appropriate to seek the court’s protection by making an application for a Non Molestation Order and/or an Occupation Order under the Family Law Act 1996 (FLA 1996).

Non-Molestation Orders

A Non-Molestation Order confers protection on family members, including children or people in a domestic relationship, against the use of violence or other forms of molestation by a person with whom they are associated. A Non-Molestation Order can prohibit a person from using or threatening violence against you or your child(ren), or intimidating, harassing or pestering you. It can contain very specific provisions depending on the particular type of harassment you are experiencing. Associated persons include former and current spouses, civil partners and co-habitants as well as fiancés, relatives, people living in the same household, the parents of children and those who have been in intimate personal relationships of significant duration.

Occupation Orders

An Occupation Order sets out who can live in the family home or certain parts of it. And it can also restrict someone from entering the area surrounding the home. This Order does not affect each person’s financial interest in the home, simply who can live in it. An Occupation Order could include some or all of the following: –

  • Order the Respondent to move out of the home or stay away from the home.
  • Order the Respondent to keep a certain distance from the home.
  • Order the Respondent to stay in certain parts of the home at certain times (for example it could order them to sleep in a different bedroom).
  • Order the Respondent to allow you back into the home if they have locked you out.
  • Order the Respondent to continue to pay the mortgage, rent or bills.

How Burtons can help

Our Family Department can provide further advice on assistance on these Orders. Please do not hesitate to contact them on 01892 824 577 or on