I believe you are entitled to be given support and the best advice in moving forward, and in giving you back control and empowerment over your life. You do not need to suffer in silence or feel like a helpless victim. You can apply for an injunction if you have been the victim of domestic abuse. A Non-molestation Order is a court order that either:
- protects you or your child from being harmed or threatened by the person who’s abused you – this is called a ‘non-molestation order’
- decides who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area – this is called an ‘occupation order’
The person named in the injunction (Respondent) can be arrested if they breach or break the order.
If you are in immediate danger of being abused or have been abused, report it to the police.
Domestic violence (DV) is classified as controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour which is inflicted by the perpetrator. The ill treatment, lasting over an extended period is rarely a one-off incident. The abuse can take several forms – physical, coercive, emotional, verbal (threats or intimidation), sexual, mental (psychological) or financial. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse or violence, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. There is no distinction between heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgender relationships in domestic violence/abuse. The abuse or violence can continue even after the intimate relationship has ended. Carers who are family members can also be perpetrators.
If you need protection immediately, ask for an emergency Non-molestation order when you apply. You do not have to tell the person you want protection from that you’re applying so it is known as a ‘without notice’ or ‘ex-parte’ application.
The court will hold a hearing which you must attend. It may issue an order at the hearing. If an order is made or granted, you must arrange for the sealed order, application and your witness statement to be ‘served’ on the person (Respondent) named in the application. This means making sure they get a copy of the documents in person. Your solicitor can arrange for a process server to serve the documents for a fee. You must not serve the documents yourself.
The Respondent must be alerted about the application after the Non-molestation order has been issued.
If granted, the Non-molestation Order is designed to stop someone from pestering, attacking, threatening physical violence, intimidating or harassing their victim and/or children. It may prohibit the perpetrator from communicating with their (ex)partner, or instructing or encouraging others (agents) to attack, threaten or intimidate the victim. It can also include a clause preventing the abuser from coming within a certain distance of your home. NMOs are typically granted for 6 to 12 months and breaching them is an arrestable offence. Courts usually grant them for a duration, or until a further order, or until proceedings conclude.
If an order is granted without notice on an emergency basis, then there is a further hearing approximately 14 days later, to give your abuser the opportunity to tell the Court whether they oppose the order.
If you’re 17 or under
If you’re under 16 you’ll need permission to apply from the Court.
If you’re 16 or 17 you’ll need to appoint a ‘litigation friend’ to represent you in court – this is usually a parent, family member or close friend.
You can usually apply if you’re a victim of domestic abuse and the person you want to be protected from (‘the Respondent’) is:
- someone you’re having or have had a relationship with
- a family member
- someone you’re living or have lived with
- a husband, wife or civil partner
- former husband, former wife or former civil partner
- fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner
- former fiancé, former fiancée or former proposed civil partner – if your engagement or agreement to form a civil partnership ended less than 3 years ago
- family member – parent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle
- boyfriend, girlfriend, partner or a person you’re in or have been in a relationship with for more than 6 months
If you were engaged to or had agreed to form a civil partnership with the respondent, you will need to provide evidence, such as a ring or statement from a witness who attended a ceremony or celebration.
You can apply if you have a child or grandchild, and the Respondent is the child’s parent or person you share parental responsibility with.
If your child (or grandchild) has been adopted, you can also apply to get an injunction against their:
- adoptive parent
- anyone who has applied to adopt them
- anyone the child has been placed with for adoption
You can also apply for an order against the child or grandchild if they have been adopted.
Your application may be heard on paper, without notice (ex-parte) or on notice (both parties will attend court on the designated time and day. The hearing will be held in private (‘in chambers’).
At the end of the hearing the court will make one of the following decisions:
- the person you’ve applied for an injunction against must make an ‘undertaking’ (a promise) to do or not do something
- you must provide more information – the court may issue a short-term order (an ‘interim order’) to protect you while you get this information
- it will issue an order – when that ends they may hold another hearing to decide whether to renew the order. The order will state what the Respondent can and cannot do.