The law is there to protect you if a partner or ex-partner is abusing you or your children. Choosing to use the law can be a difficult decision to make but it is important to remember, Women’s Aid is there to support you at every step.
Women’s Aid welcomes the introduction of the Domestic Abuse & Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) which is due to be implemented in February 2022. The Act provides for a specific domestic abuse offence, capturing patterns of non-physical abuse that is controlling or coercive, or amounts to psychological, emotional, technological or financial abuse. The legislation will offer greater protection to victims of domestic abuse by prohibiting cross-examination in person, as well as automatic eligibility for consideration of special measures at court. `the new legislation will criminalise coercive and controlling behaviour bringing Northern Ireland law in line with other jurisdictions within the UK and Ireland.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse the law can help you in the following ways.
If you or your children are in any danger, contact the police. A Police Domestic Abuse Officer will usually be appointed to work with you and support you to get the help you need. This can include helping you contact agencies that can help such as Women’s Aid or Victim Support. They can also provide you with practical support.
More information on police response.
Prosecutions will be handled by the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland where trained and skilled solicitors will decide when to prosecute in all cases of domestic abuse.
Women’s Aid is there for you at all stages during the legal process.
Using the law
If you choose to use the law, it is useful to have as much evidence as possible about what you have experienced. You may also find it helpful to write it all down. It would also be useful if you can gather relevant information such as a doctor’s report, records of hospital visits, dates and times of incidents etc. Women’s Aid can support and guide you.
To access legal protection, you have to apply to the court. The law can be quite complex so you so it may be helpful o contact your your local Women’s Aid group for information and advice.
Other organisations that can help
There are three main types of legal action you can take:
- Non-Molestation Order
- Occupation Order, and
- Protection from Harassment Order.
Legal Aid is available for all people experiencing domestic abuse. On 30 December 2010 the Minister of Justice David Ford MLA announced the decision to amend the Legal Aid Rule effective immediately, to remove the upper earnings and capital limit for those seeking Legal Aid for Non-Molestation Order proceedings in Northern Ireland. Women will now automatically receive Legal Aid for these proceedings but may be required to make a one-off contribution to the fees which will be based on legal aid fee rates rather than on private solicitor’s rates.