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Domestic Violence and Abuse Protection

If you are being physically, mentally or sexually abused by someone you live with, or are being threatened by them, that is domestic abuse or violence.

A national 24-hour helpline (0808 2000 247) operated by Women's Aid and Refuge is now available to anyone who is suffering domestic abuse. There is also a Male Advice and Enquiry Helpline for men experiencing domestic abuse. In an emergency, always call the police by dialling 999.

Where a partner or spouse has suffered actual violence or harassment, the court can make an Order. The Order may require a person not to use or threaten violence against the other partner, to leave the home and not go back, or to keep away from the neighbourhood. The actual terms of the Order will vary according to the situation.

Protection from domestic violence is available to all couples (and their children) living together as 'man and wife' or same-sex partners, regardless of whether or not they are married. Many kinds of domestic abuse are criminal offences, and the police take all domestic violence very seriously. Most forces have specially trained, experienced officers who will listen and speak to a victim separately from their partner. Women can ask to be seen by a female officer. The police can, if asked, arrange medical aid, transport and a place of safety. Their first priorities are the victim's safety and well-being and, if applicable, the safety and well-being of their children.

Throughout this Guide, we have dealt with the importance of both parties having access to their children but there are instances where remaining in contact with a violent or abusive parent is not in the child's best interests, especially if they regularly witness or experience harmful conflicts firsthand. While losing contact with a parent can be devastating, the non-abusive parent may have to take legal steps to prevent contact until safeguards can be put in place to ensure your child does not experience violence in the future.

To download the Relationship Breakdown Publication please select the relevant area: