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26 Domestic Violence, Abuse and Harassment

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1 Introduction

2. What can I do if someone in my family is abusing me?

3. Practical things to do if you have been abused

4. Taking legal steps

5. What the police can do for you

The police can take action to protect you and your children. They may do this by arresting your partner, if they have the power to do so, and holding him or her for a short time (for example, overnight).

The police will then normally investigate what happened, to see whether a crime has been committed. The police will need your help with their investigation. However, it is the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – not you – that decides whether your partner should be taken to court.

You should not be put under pressure to make a complaint about your partner if you decide that you don’t want to. But if you drop a complaint, the police will still want to make sure that you will be safe, and may talk to you about your decision. The CPS can go ahead and prosecute your partner anyway if it has enough evidence.

If the CPS does prosecute your partner, he or she could be fined or given another type of sentence. Or they could be ‘bound over to keep the peace’ (told they must behave, or they will be brought back to court). In cases of serious or repeated violence, they could be sent to prison.

Action by the police may stop your partner behaving badly towards you again. If he or she is on bail, the police or the court can impose conditions stopping him or her coming near your home or your workplace, or from contacting you or the children. They can also impose other conditions if they think these are needed to protect you.

If your children were also abused or were present when you were being abused, the police may contact social services, depending on how serious the abuse was or how often it happened.

If your partner is prosecuted for assault in the criminal court, the judge won’t sort out who has the right to live in your home, or impose an order saying how your partner must behave or restricting where they can go. To arrange this, you need to go to the civil court and get an injunction. See ‘Court orders you can get to protect you’.

6. What a solicitor can do for you

7. Court orders you can get to protect you

8. How a court order protects you

9. What if the person abusing me is not my partner?

10. How can I help someone who is being abused?

11. Terms used in matters to do with domestic abuse

12. Further help

13. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Imogen Clout, a solicitor and mediator specialising in family law.

Leaflet version: August 2008