You can apply to a civil court for an injunction if you are facing domestic violence. You can also report violence or abuse to the police.
Cover your tracks
Get help and advice about injunctions
Contact the National Centre for Domestic Violence for help with getting an injunction.
Find out more from the NCDV.
Contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline for confidential advice, support and information about injunctions.
Get advice from a solicitor who specialises in family law.
They can advise you what type of injunction you can apply for and what would be the best option in your circumstances. They can also advise you on a claim for damages.
Contact the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345. You may be able to get help from a legal aid lawyer if you claim certain benefits or have a low income.
Anyone can call Shelter's free national helpline on 0808 800 4444.
For face to face help, use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser at a Shelter advice service, Citizen's Advice or law centre.
How an injunction can help
If you have suffered domestic abuse, you can take action against an abuser in the civil courts.
You can ask a court to:
- give you an injunction ordering your abuser to stop certain actions
- make a court order to exclude a violent or abusive person from your home
- order your abuser to pay you damages for any injury or loss you have suffered
Types of injunction
Injunctions that you can ask for if you have suffered domestic abuse include:
- non-molestation orders
- occupation orders
- restraining orders
- injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Non-molestation orders and occupation orders are only available if you are being abused by an 'associated person'. An associated person includes:
- your spouse or civil partner or former spouse or civil partner
- a cohabitee or former cohabitee
- someone you have had an intimate relationship with for some time (even if you have never lived together)
- the parent of your child
- your parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or cousin
- a person who you have shared a house or flat with (but not if they were only your landlord, tenant or lodger)
If your abuser is not an associated person you may be able to obtain an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act.
These orders can prohibit physical violence and also threats, harassment and intimidation.
You can apply for a non-molestation order even if you plan to continue the relationship and live in the same home.
Occupation orders are court orders that extend or restrict a person's right to occupy a home.
An occupation order can, for example, give you the right to stay in the family home where you didn't previously have that right (for example, where the tenancy is a sole tenancy in your abuser's name), or exclude the abuser from the home.
An occupation order can:
- prohibit your partner, former partner or family member from entering your home or coming within a certain distance of your home
- order your partner or former partner to let you back into your home if they have excluded you
- make provision about who pays the rent or mortgage on the home
Restraining orders and harassment injunctions
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 creates specific criminal offences relating to harassment.
The harassment must have occurred on at least two occasions before you can take action using this law.
As well as violent acts, harassment can include texts, phone calls, letters, emails, comments or verbal threats. It could also include stalking you by standing outside your house, driving past your home or following you.
If your abuser is prosecuted, the criminal courts can make a restraining order to protect you even if there is not enough evidence to convict your abuser of an offence.
If your abuser is not prosecuted, you can apply for an injunction through the civil courts. You can apply for this type of injunction whether or not the person abusing you or harassing you is an 'associated person'.
What happens in court
The judge considers the evidence of the violence against you and if an injunction is needed for your protection.
The judge has to be satisfied that it is 'more probable than not' that the violence happened. The judge then decides whether to make an injunction and what conditions to attach to it.
If an abuser breaches an order or injunction
It is a criminal offence to breach a:
- non-molestation order
- restraining order or injunction made under the Protection from Harassment Act
- occupation order with a power of arrest attached
This means you can call the police if your abuser does anything which the order or injunction forbids them from doing. If there is enough evidence of the breach then they can be arrested, charged and prosecuted.
Occupation orders must have a power of arrest attached unless the judge feels you are adequately protected without this. If there is no power of arrest attached you have to apply back to the family court for a warrant for arrest.
The penalties for breaching an order or injunction can be a fine or a prison sentence.
Limitations of orders and injunctions
An occupation order may exclude an abuser from your home in the short-term but it doesn't provide a long-term solution to what happens to the family home.
Even if a court grants an injunction it doesn't guarantee your safety and is time-limited and may not be renewable.
Compensation and damages
You may be able to get compensation if your abuser has been prosecuted for a criminal offence.
You can also make a claim for damages in the civil courts if you have been the victim of domestic abuse. Damages can be awarded for any injury, anxiety or financial loss you have suffered as a result of the abuse. The abuser, not the court, pays the damages to you.