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06 Feb 2024

Family & Matrimonial

Is Domestic Abuse a Criminal Offence?

Domestic abuse, in most cases, is classed a criminal offence.

Is Domestic Abuse a Criminal Offence?

The simple answer to this question is – yes, domestic abuse, in most cases, is classed a criminal offence. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 is a significant piece of legislation in the UK that provides a comprehensive framework for addressing domestic abuse. It defines domestic abuse in law and strengthens the legal system’s response to offenders of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse encompasses a range of abusive behaviours including emotional, physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse within a domestic or intimate relationship. Domestic abuse can also include abusive behaviour online, harassment, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.  

Unfortunately, domestic abuse is a big problem in the UK, with estimates from The Crime Survey for England and Wales that ‘2.1 million people aged 16 years and over (1.4 million women and 751,000 men) experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023’. 

If you are suffering from domestic abuse and unsure where to turn, our domestic abuse solicitors at Harding Evans can help you and your family get the support and protection that you need during these difficult times. Get in touch with our domestic abuse legal team today. 

Steps to Take if You’re a Victim of Domestic Abuse

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, taking action to protect yourself and seek support is crucial.

Here are 5 steps to take if you’re a victim of domestic abuse:

  1. Ensure immediate safety
  2. Reach out for support 
  3. Seek legal help
  4. Document any evidence
  5. Get a restraining order on the offender

1. Ensure immediate safety

The most important step of all is to ensure you are safe. If you are in immediate danger, call the police by dialling 999 or 112.

If you live with the offender, is there someone else you can stay with?  This might be the home of a trusted friend or family member, but make sure your abuser doesn’t know the location.

If you haven’t got anywhere safe to stay, consider seeking refuge in a safe house or shelter provided by domestic abuse charities. They can offer temporary accommodation and support services. This brings us nicely onto the second point…

2. Reach out for Support 

Please don’t suffer in silence – there are numerous support systems in place for domestic abuse victims in the UK. 

You can contact a domestic abuse helpline for confidential support, advice, and information. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) and local helplines provided by domestic abuse charities are available to assist you. The Men’s Advice Line (0808 801 0327) also offers support and advice for male victims of domestic abuse. 

3. Seek Legal Help

If you are scared of your current or former partner and believe you are at risk of danger, you have a right to be protected under criminal law.  Being abused by someone you’re in a relationship with or live with is just as much a crime as violence from a stranger, and in many cases, even more dangerous. 

Domestic Abuse Solicitors can help you understand your legal rights as a victim of domestic abuse and can assist you in obtaining protective orders, such as non-molestation orders and occupation orders, which can help keep you safe from further harm. 

Legal services can also help to protect your children by giving you emergency or temporary accommodation for your safety. You can apply to the Family Courts for an order specifying where and with whom the children should live and regulating contact with the other parent.

In general, a Family Court will deal with any legal issues that have come from family relations, such as cases relating to the upbringing of children, divorce and associated legal issues at the end of a relationship and support for children after relationship separation.

How We Can Offer Legal Help for Domestic Support Victims 

With our experience, support and insistence upon total confidentiality, we at Harding Evans will do all we can to help you to be free from domestic abuse. We can give you advice on a wide range of legal orders to help keep you safe, even if the police have previously told you that they cannot take criminal action against your abuser. 

Learn more about our domestic abuse services here and get in touch today. 

4. Document Any Evidence

It’s important to gather as much evidence of domestic abuse as you can. Keep records of all your physical injuries, digital abuse or any other forms of abuse by taking images, screenshots of texts/emails/DMs, filming or recording the abuse if you’re able to. 

A well-documented history of abuse will work in your favour as you will need all this evidence when you file a police report or seek legal protection, so the more information you have gathered, the better the outcome will be. 

Evidence can also be used as evidence in child custody cases, making sure that the best interests of the child are prioritised.

5. Plan For Your Future

Once you’ve reached out for support and taken the necessary steps to address the abuse and protect yourself, it’s time to start planning for your future independence and well-being. This can involve financial planning, accessing education or employment opportunities, and building a support network around you.

At Harding Evans, our experienced solicitors can give you all the advice you need, and make sure you are aware of all the options available to you. We can also support you in bringing criminal prosecutions against your abuser. 

For more legal tips, our law blog is regularly updated with articles surrounding clinical negligence, residential property, wills & probate and much more. 

At Harding Evans, our family & matrimonial solicitors in Cardiff and Newport are experts in all aspects of divorce. Get in touch with a member of our friendly team today to determine your next steps. 

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