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.

If you are experiencing domestic violence the law can help you in the following ways.

Police response

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 other 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 violence.

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 useful 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. Again Women’s Aid can support and guide you.

To get legal protection, you have to apply to the court. The law can be quite complex so you can speak to the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline 0808 802 1414 or your local Women’s Aid group.

» 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 victims of domestic violence. 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.

» More information about the criminal and civil law for victims of domestic violence