You would think that in the 21 century we would all know what domestic abuse is. Sadly, that is still not the case. As a divorce and children solicitor, I still come across spouses and other legal professionals who talk of ‘a bit of a push’ or seem to think that the inappropriate behaviour was ok because the children did not see it.
The good news is that domestic violence is now in the news for the right reasons as the government is introducing a new bill that will:
- Introduce a legal definition of domestic abuse to include economic abuse, as well as controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse; and
- Stop the cross-examination of domestic violence victims by their abusive ex-partners in the family courts ; and
- Make domestic violence perpetrators go into behaviour-changing rehabilitation programmes ; and
- Make victims of domestic violence automatically able to get protection when they give evidence in criminal trials ; and
- Clarify how “Clare’s Law” should work. This law lets the police tell a member of the public if there are concerns over about previous violence committed by their partner ; and
- The creation of the role of national domestic abuse commissioner. They will improve the public services response and support for victims of domestic violence.
What is domestic abuse?
Some forms of domestic abuse are obvious but I will list them all:
- Physical abuse ; this can range from extreme violence to a punch , shove or push;
- Sexual abuse; this can be all forms of unwanted sexual contact;
- Psychological or mental abuse; this can range from extreme mind games to derogatory remarks , for example ,telling someone they are a ‘’nutter’’ ;
- Harassment ; this can range from stalking type behaviour outside someone’s home to online harassment on social media accounts;
- Coercion and control; this can take many forms; from not allowing a spouse to leave the family home unaccompanied to financial control and restricting a spouse’s access to funds.
Some people will not recognise all of those behaviours as abusive but they are.
Response to domestic abuse
As a divorce and children solicitor, I meet husband and wives’ who have been subjected to domestic abuse. Their response can be:
- Accepting of the behaviour ; often a spouse will be told that the domestic abuse is their fault , for example , if only they did not ‘‘wind them up’’ it would not happen;
- Normalising the behaviour ; thinking that it is’’ just a bit of a slap’’;
- Denying the behaviour ; thinking that the domestic abuse is ‘’ all in their mind,’’ often after having been repeatedly told that they are the ones with the mental illness;
- Responding to the behaviour ; by starting to become abusive to their spouse or others as domestic abuse has become the ‘’norm’’ within the household;
- Justifying the behaviour; for example saying that the domestic abuse only happens because of a spouse’s stressful job or family pressures.
However, someone responds to domestic abuse they will need help and support to come to terms with the impact of domestic abuse.
The impact of domestic abuse
Most experts are agreed that being subjected to or witnessing domestic abuse can lead to:
- Low self-esteem;
- Low mood;
- Isolation from friends and family;
Often spouses take the decision to leave when they see the impact that adult domestic abuse is having on the children. A parent can be a loving mum or dad to their children but abuse their spouse. Even if the children do not always see the abuse, the atmosphere and tension can be very damaging to their welfare.
Injunction court orders
An injunction order is just one means of protecting a spouse or children from domestic abuse.
An injunction is a court order stopping a named person from taking a step or ordering a step to be taken, such as:
- Stopping an assault or harassment by an ex- partner (called a non-molestation order);
- Ordering one spouse to leave a family home until the court decides what should happen long term with the family home (called an occupation order );
- Removing a child from one parent’s care if child abduction is a fear;
- Preventing one spouse from taking money and assets until the court decides how property and assets is split in the financial settlement (called a freezing order).
If you are concerned about your children, the court can also make an urgent child arrangements order. This order settles with whom the children should live and whether they should have contact with the other parent. In a crisis, the court can make temporary orders in addition to injunction orders.
How do you get an injunction order?
You, or your solicitor, have to make a court application, supported by a statement and evidence. The evidence you need depends on what you are trying to stop or prevent.
What are the grounds for an injunction order?
The grounds depend on the injunction order that is requested from the court.
If you are worried about your safety or the physical or emotional safety of your child, Evolve Family Law can assess your options, including the option of applying for an injunction order.
Is an injunction order permanent?
Normally injunctions are temporary court orders designed to help a family until they or, if necessary, the court is able to make long-term decisions about the custody and contact arrangements for a child or the sale or transfer of the family home. However, an injunction order can be an essential protective measure that is needed before long term decisions can be made.
Help from Evolve Family Law
If you need help to apply for or oppose an injunction or children application then our specialist team of family solicitors can help take urgent steps to protect you and your family.
For information and advice about separation, divorce, injunctions or custody and children orders please call me on +44 (0) 1477 464020 for a confidential chat or email me at [email protected]