I am suffering domestic abuse, what can I do?


Domestic abuse can never be justified, and should never be tolerated. It is difficult to take the first steps to put an end to the situation. This guide intends to show you what your options are and what you can do about it if you’re looking for domestic abuse advice.

domestic abuse

The Government definition of domestic abuse

The government has produced a domestic abuse definition below to help people understand the problem. However, it is always important to remember that abuse can take many forms.

Domestic abuse includes any incident or pattern of behaviour that is controlling, threatening, coercive, violent or abusive towards intimate partners or members of family.

Here are some warning signs that someone is suffering domestic abuse:
  • Partner is jealous
  • Partner exhibits controlling behaviour including financial control
  • Partner initiates the relationship quickly (many victims of abuse were within 6 months of being engaged to or living with their abuser)
  • Partner has unrealistic expectations
  • Partner is isolated from other relationships (eg, friends and family)
  • Partner blames and shifts problems
  • Partner blames and shifts feelings
  • Partner is hypersensitive
  • Partner has rigid gender roles
  • Partner is verbally abusive
  • Partner is physically abusive including sexual violence

Where can you go?

A women’s refuge can provide counselling and accommodation to women and children who are suffering from domestic abuse.

Staff at refuges have a lot of practical experience in domestic violence. They are able to give you advice on applying for benefits for example.

The local authority has the obligation to provide housing to people who are homeless or at risk of being made homeless, providing you don’t make yourself homeless. This is important if you have suffered domestic violence as you may have to flee your home.

Seeing a family law solicitor about the children

When the family unit breaks down, a solicitor specialising in family law can help a parent secure custody of their children and help with contact issues.

A family solicitor should be experienced in, and sensitive to the needs of families who have experienced domestic abuse as part of their service to you.

Keeping you Safe

Non-molestation Orders/injunctions

A non-molestation order is a court order/injunction that can be made by you to stop the abuser from harassing you and your children. A non-molestation order is very flexible, and can restrict the abuser from doing certain things, such as contacting you through third parties (passing messages to you) and can cover a certain period of time.

There is a great deal of protection you can get from a non-molestation order. If an abuser breaches the order, they have committed a crime. The punishment for this crime is a prison sentence, a fine, or both.

Ending the relationship

The victims of domestic abuse will very frequently decide to end their relationship with their abuser. If they’re married, they need a divorce. If they’re cohabiting they might still have property to sort out. A solicitor can help you do this in a way that limits the stress and anxiety you would have if you had to negotiate and deal with your abuser direct.

Help with legal costs

A solicitor should be able to provide you with multiple funding options for the services you need. You are able to get legal aid for family cases involving domestic abuse, such as if you need to seek protection or deal with a divorce and child custody.

Top tips to take home

  • A firm of solicitors can offer multiple services to families suffering from domestic violence, tailored to the needs of the victims
  • Set yourself some personal goals – after suffering abuse, what do you want to achieve in the short and long term
  • Ask about legal aid

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