What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence in English law can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family or cohabitation. Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression such as hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, or threats of physical aggression. Also included is sexual abuse, emotional abuse, controlling or dominating behaviour, intimidation, stalking, neglect, and economic deprivation as well as the effects of alcoholism and mental illness, which are often the triggers for domestic violence. Domestic violence usually forms a pattern of controlling or domineering behaviour and is present in all societies. Not all cases of domestic violence involve overt acts of physical violence. Sometime it can be hidden in a bullying and controlling environment.
Is domestic violence prevalent only in certain cultures or classes?
No. Domestic violence is common in all cultures and classes of people. Although it is most commonly experienced by women, it is certainly not restricted to women only. Any person can experience domestic violence regardless of race, ethnic or religious background, class, wealth, disability or lifestyle. It can involve several family members and can also be directed toward children as well as adults.
What is the official definition of domestic violence?
The law defines domestic violence as “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
Why does it happen?
For all sorts of reasons. It is usually always because of the abuser rather than the abused person, although it may not feel that way to the victim. Victims of domestic violence are often made to feel ‘at fault’ or responsible for the violence in some way. However; in an intimate relationship like marriage, the effects of domestic violence can be destructive and as well as affecting the immediate victim, these can also have a serious impact on other family members such as children. There is no reason why anybody should have to suffer domestic violence and the law is here to help in a very fast and effective way. Often abusers are very well behaved in public and many of their friends and relatives will be completely unaware of their abusive behaviour. Domestic Violence abusers will also very often try to shift the blame for their violence onto the victim, stripping the victim of self-confidence and self-esteem and always taking the upper hand in criticism.
What can I do about Domestic Violence?
Plenty! It may come as a surprise to many victims of domestic violence but this is one area of the law where the courts take a no-nonsense approach to allegations of domestic violence and protection is available fast and it is very effective. All you need to do is decide that ‘enough is enough’! Once you have decided to seek the protection of the law, an urgent application can often be brought on your behalf by your lawyers to the courts, without the abuser being aware of the proceedings and, the courts will normally immediately issue a Non-Molestation Injunction providing immediate protection. Any further attempts at Domestic Violence after the issue of this injunction will be a criminal offence and the abuser will fast find themselves arrested, in a police cell and in deep trouble. Abusers who breach a nonmolestation Order can easily find themselves in prison.
Although there is no single criminal offence called ‘domestic violence’, the acts that comprise domestic violence are very often criminal offences in themselves. For example, harassment, assault, criminal damage, physical violence, rape, false imprisonment, sexual abuse and threats or harassment.
Domestic Violence – Help
We are experts at dealing with sensitive and often disturbing cases of domestic violence. To help assess your entitlement to the protection of the court we offer a free initial telephone consultation with a specialist Domestic Violence Solicitor on 020 8401 7352. During that telephone consultation we will obtain some information from you about your particular circumstances and we will be able to tell you whether the protection of the courts is available in your specific situation. We will also explain to you the procedure, processes and probable costs of the work you need us to conduct for you as well as the likely timescales involved.