What you can do if you are the victim of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic

Advice from SA Law Family Solicitor about how you can get help including Non Molestation and Occupation Orders.

The clear advice of the government is to stay at home at this present time during the coronavirus pandemic, but what should you do if home is not a safe place? Sadly, home for many men, women and children can be a place where fear, violence and abuse prevail. In these scary and unprecedented times, we at SA Law remain here to help protect you and your children.

What is domestic abuse?

The government defines domestic abuse as “any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality.” These are extremely broad categories that cover behaviours such as, but not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.

It is often extremely difficult for an individual to recognise the behaviours of someone close to them as being abusive, to accept that those behaviours constitute domestic abuse and to find the strength to seek help.

I am a victim of domestic abuse, everything is closed, how can I get help?

Despite the impact of Covid-19 on our day to day lives, there are still plenty of support services available who can support you through this difficult time.

If you are looking for someone to speak to or emotional support or you just want a bit more information there are many domestic violence charities who remain open and who are able to assist such as women's aid or Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline or Man Kind . These charities often offer both a telephone helpline, email and webchat, which should allow you to seek support whilst in the home.

If you believe that your life is in imminent danger then please do call the police immediately on 999, or if it is not an emergency on 101. Domestic abuse is a criminal offence and the police are there to help protect you.

I can’t continue to live like this, what can I do?

When all the government advice is telling you to stay home, planning to leave can be incredibly daunting but there are options available to you:

  1. Go to a Refuge
    Men, women and children can in some circumstances look to be housed in a refuge. This will be an unmarked property with a confidential address so that the abusive party cannot locate you. The Refuge will provide you with temporary housing until, with support, you are able to rehouse yourself and your children in safe accommodation. A Refuge can usually be located with the assistance of a specialist domestic abuse charity, like those listed above.

  2. Seek help from the Police
    Domestic abuse is a criminal offence and the assistance of the police should be sought. If the police are able to charge the abusive party, then bail conditions can be put in place for a period of time to prevent them from contacting you or returning to your home. The police can also put in place Domestic Violence Protection Notices which last 48 hours and requires the abusive party to leave the home and not to contact you. These can be extended by 28 days by the magistrates who can grant a Domestic Violence Protection Order.

  3. Injunctions and Court Orders
    The Family Court can grant you a Non Molestation Order and/or Occupation Order (see more below).

What are Non Molestation and Occupation Orders?

A Non Molestation Order is an injunctive order that can be obtained from the Family Court. The order is used to stop someone from pestering, attacking, threatening or harassing you or your children. The specific terms of the order can be catered to your individual situation and often can prohibit (among other things) the abusive party from perpetrating the abuse, contacting you or coming within a certain distance of you.

An Occupation Order can also be obtained from the Family Court, usually alongside a Non Molestation Order. An Occupation Order will state who can live in the home. Again, these are tailored to each specific situation and therefore can exclude the abusive party from the home or can put in place provisions for use of the home, should you both continue to reside there.

Both of these applications can be made to the court on an emergency basis and in certain circumstances, can be obtained without the knowledge of the abusive party. This is still possible despite COVID-19 and the courts at present will hear such applications, albeit in a remote way.

If you require further information or advice on either of these orders please do contact us. We remain open and here to help you. 

Get in touch with SA Law's Family Team

Use our handy contact form to send us your enquiry. We’ll direct it to the right legal expert and respond as quickly as possible. It costs nothing to make an enquiry and it is entirely confidential.

See our privacy notice to find out how we use and protect your data.

If you would like to contact a specific member of the SA Law team, you can view all team profiles here

Contact Us
Read our latest Divorce & Family Law Views and Insights
Good coverage in private law children and financial work, so they are able to offer a full service to clients.
The Legal 500
Divorce and family law red chair SA Law
Views & Insights
Lockdown is easing - what are the latest rules for families with children?

As the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the UK our Family experts look at how the new government roadmap will effect families, parents…

Read More
Child holding hands with parent - SA Law's Dignified Divorcee
Views & Insights
The National Lockdown and Child Arrangements FAQ

Simran provides answers to FAQs about child arrangement difficulties which may arise because of the national lockdown.

Read More
Child holding hands with parent - SA Law's Dignified Divorcee
Views & Insights
Tier 4 – Can I still see my children?

Can parents continue to spend time with their children in the usual way at Christmas, if they do not live in the same household whilst in Tier 4?

Read More
SA Law Christmas tree
Views & Insights
Christmas Bubbles and the impact on children of separated parents

The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the everyday life of virtually every person in the world. Unfortunately England is no exception.…

Read More
SA Law Personal Services Red Door
Views & Insights
Considerations for moving or selling your home following separation or divorce during the Covid-19 pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic there are even more ambiguities to contend with when selling a home, particularly if you are also separated or divorcing.…

Read More
Child holding hands with parent - SA Law's Dignified Divorcee
Views & Insights
FAQs: Child arrangements during Covid

Answers to key questions about child arrangements during Covid including contact being refused, children visiting parents in different tiers and more.…

Read More
I found SA Law to be very organised and – importantly for me – they were very transparent about the costs, something I found very refreshing from a law…
The Legal 500

© SA LAW 2021

Every care is taken in the preparation of our articles. However, no responsibility can be accepted to any person who acts on the basis of information contained in them alone. You are recommended to obtain specific advice in respect of individual cases.