Your Rights & Options
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, stalking or harassment it’s important to know your rights and options. We have outlined some of the most common areas that victims of domestic abuse what to know about and we have provided information about some of the options available.
The Police and Criminal law.
Domestic abuse, stalking and harassment is against the law.
You can report abuse to the Police. In an emergency call 999 or 101 in a non-emergency or you can attend a police station in person to report the abuse or incident. You should tell the police what’s happened and let them know if you’re worried about your safety and anyone else’s safety such as your children. Make a note of the incident number as you may need this at a later date.
If the police arrest and charge the abuser, they will decide whether to keep them in custody or release them on bail.
There will usually be conditions attached to their bail to protect you from further abuse.
The Crown Prosecution Service or the police will make the final decision on whether the abuser is prosecuted, depending on the offence. If they’re prosecuted, you might have to go to court. If you’re worried about going to court, you can get help and support from the citizen advice witness service.
For further information about criminal law and domestic abuse. Follow the link to the Rights of women website. They have produced an excellent guide which explains the process from charge to trial.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme(DVDS), also known as “Clare’s Law” enables the police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending.
The DVDS was named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 by her boyfriend.
Under Clare’s Law you can:
- apply for information about your current or ex-partner because you’re worried they may have a history of abuse and are a risk to you
- request information about the current or ex-partner of a friend or relative because you’re worried they might be at risk
For further information please follow below link to Lincolnshire Police website.
Domestic Violence Protection Notice and Orders
If you have experienced or been threatened with domestic abuse, the police can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice and then apply to the magistrates’ court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order.
A Domestic Violence Protection Order can protect you from further abuse, and if you live with the perpetrator, ban them from returning to the home and contacting you. If the perpetrator does not keep to the Order, they can be arrested and brought before the court.
A Domestic Violence Protection Order lasts for up to 28 days and gives you time to explore your options and get further support.
A restraining order is a court order which prohibits the abuser from doing certain things, such as contacting you or coming within a certain distance of your home. Restraining orders are made by the criminal courts. If the police charge the abuser with an offence and the case goes to the criminal courts then the court may make a restraining order to protect you. The criminal court can make the restraining order even if your abuser is found ‘not guilty’.
Breaching a restraining order is a criminal offence and the Police should take action arrest the abuser if they believe there has been a breach.
You cannot apply to the criminal courts for a restraining order yourself. If you want to make your own application for an injunction then you can apply to the civil court.
Non Molestation order – This is a civil protection order that prohibits the abuser from doing certain things. It places legal restrictions on your abuser to try to prevent or limit any further violence and abuse. It is a criminal offence if the abuser breaches (breaks) the order and the police can arrest them. If found guilty, they could face up to 5 years imprisonment, dependent on the type of breach.
These injunctions are easier to apply for, and there is no court fee for the application. In emergency cases orders can be applied for quickly. You might be able to get legal aid if you have evidence that you or your children have been victims of domestic abuse or violence and you cannot afford to pay legal costs. For further information click the link below https://www.gov.uk/legal-aid/domestic-abuse-or-violence
As well as a non-molestation order, there are 3 other types of protection orders:
An occupation order – to exclude someone from the family home
A forced marriage protection order– to protect you from forced marriage or the risk of forced marriage
A female genital mutilation protection order – to protect you or a child against female genital mutilation
For further information about any of these civil protection orders, click on the links below:
If you have left your home or feel you need to move out because of domestic abuse but you have nowhere to go, you can get help from your local council’s homelessness department.
You do not need to be sleeping on the street to get help from the council. Even if you have accommodation that you can legally occupy, the council should still consider you homeless if you can’t live there because of a risk of abuse.
Follow this link for information on housing options. https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/help-with-housing
Refuge accommodation is available to those experiencing domestic abuse. Click here for further information.
For information about financial abuse and the help and support available for survivors suffering financial hardship, click on the link below which will take you to Women’s aid survivors handbook.
You might be able to get legal aid if you have evidence that you or your children have been victims of domestic abuse and you cannot afford to pay legal costs. For further information click the link below https://www.gov.uk/legal-aid/domestic-abuse-or-violence