National Stalking Awareness Week Monday 24 April – Friday 28 April
Protection from Stalking/Domestic Violence from a Family Law point of view
The definition of stalking is:
a pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviour that causes you to feel distressed or scared. Stalking can happen with or without a fear of violence. This means that if you are receiving persistent, unwanted contact that is causing you distress but the person has never threatened you, this is still stalking and is not acceptable.
The definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, psychological; physical; sexual; financial; emotional
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
If you are being stalked, you can complain to the police or apply for an injunction through the civil court.
Nobody should endure domestic violence, and if you feel that you or your children are in any immediate danger then your first priority should be to call the police. In order to ensure that you are not subject to domestic violence in the future you can apply to the courts for a non-molestation order which will prevent your partner or ex-partner from harming you or threatening you with harm. You may also qualify for Legal Aid depending on your circumstances.
You don’t have to have actually experienced violence in order to apply for a non-molestation order. You may apply if you are being intimidated or harassed by your ex.
A non molestation order is an injunction that aims to prevent an “associated person” from harming you or your children. By harm we mean actual or the threat of physical violence, any form of harassment or intimidation, as well as psychological abuse or financial control.
An “associated person” is a spouse or ex-spouse; a civil partner or previous civil partner; a fiancé(e) or ex-fiancé(e); someone with whom you are living or used to live with; the father or mother of your child; someone with whom you have had an intimate personal relationship; a family member. All of these apply equally to same sex and mixed sex partners.
It is possible to submit the application without giving notice to the other party.
A non-molestation order is very powerful. If it is breached then it is an arrestable offence with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
In the event that you share the same house as the perpetrator, it is possible to also submit an application for an occupation order, determining who should remain living in the house.
Please contact Sara Whitaker at the Ringrose Law Newark branch to discuss matters further. We hold a free family law clinic each Friday by appointment.