Domestic violence is not just about physical abuse but involves a whole range of controlling and abusive behaviour such as threats and psychological, sexual, financial and emotional control.
A victim of domestic violence may apply to the Court for an Order for their protection under the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Order (NI) 1998. There are two types of Order which the Court can make. The first is a Non-Molestation Order, which is an Order that a person must not molest, harass, pester, use or threaten violence against the applicant. The second Order is an Occupation Order and this Order can provide for the removal of a person from a property and prohibit them from returning to this property. The Courts can also make an exclusion zone, excluding a person from a particular place.
These Orders are served by the police and take effect once served. It is a criminal offence to breach any of these Orders and the police have powers to arrest a person for an alleged breach. The police treat domestic violence very seriously and have dedicated domestic abuse teams to deal with these matters.
If there has been a recent incident of abuse within the last few days, an emergency application to the Court for an Order. This is an application where the Respondent is not notified and is not present at Court. This is a short term Order which provides protection until such times as the Respondent can be given notice of the application and will have the opportunity to attend at Court and defend it.
People suffering from domestic violence may need ongoing emotional and practical support and there are a number of organisations available to provide such assistance.