Victims of domestic violence often do not report or disclose the abuse to the police. This low rate of reporting also extends to male victims of domestic violence, who do not tend to seek help or assistance from third parties or organisations founded to support people under such circumstances. This underreporting has allowed the abuse against men to remain a mostly hidden problem.
However, men are increasingly choosing to come forward to report domestic abuse they have received from their partners. The Office for National Statistics reports that between 2018 and 2019, there has been a sharp decline in the number of women victims reporting domestic abuse to the police and, in turn, an increase in men reporting such abuse. Further, the stay-at-home guidance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a significant increase in reports of incidents of domestic abuse.
Protection From Domestic Violence
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, call the police immediately and make a report. It is also extremely useful to keep a journal of the events leading to the incident. Details of the incident can be easily forgotten, but if you write these particulars down, your immediate memory is recorded and can be referred to when seeking protection from the court.
You can also seek protection from the Family Court. The Court can issue a non-molestation order, an occupation order, or both if appropriate. Let us explore these orders in more detail.
- Non-Molestation Order. Under the Family Law Act 1996, victims of domestic abuse can make an application for a non-molestation order. A non-molestation order prohibits a person (the abuser) from harassing, intimidating, pestering or using violence against another person (the victim). A non-molestation order can further demand the abuser refrain from contacting the victim or refrain from attending a certain place where the victim regularly attends. It is a criminal offence for the abuser to do anything prohibited by a non-molestation order.
In certain circumstances, the application can be made on an emergency basis without notice to the abuser. To determine whether your situation qualifies for a without notice application, you should consult a qualified solicitor.
- Occupation Order. Victims can also apply for an occupation order, another court order which deals restricts or regulates rights of occupation in the family home. An occupation order can accomplish the following:
- Order the abuser to move out of the home or to stay away from the home.
- Order the abuser to keep a certain distance away from the home.
- Order the abuser to stay in certain parts of the home at certain times and order him or her to sleep in a different bedroom.
- Order the abuser to allow the victim back into the home if he or she has been locked out.
- Order the abuser to continue to pay the mortgage, rent or bills.
There are several factors the court will take into consideration when deciding whether to make an occupation order. These factors include:
- The housing needs and resources of the parties and any children.
- The financial resources of the parties.
- The likely effect any order, or not making an order, will have on the parties and any children.
- The court may also look at the harm that the victim and any children might suffer if the order is not granted and the harm that the abuser and any children might suffer if it is.
There is protection through the legal court system to protect the victims of domestic abuse. People often stay in abusive relationships due to their worry that they may not see their children again, feelings of embarrassment or shame, or a lack of support to aid them in leaving the relationship. Do not suffer alone. Seek guidance from a solicitor who can help.