Domestic violence or domestic abuse is any incident of threatening behaviour, or abuse (psychological physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between people who are or have been partners or family members.
Anyone can experience domestic violence or abuse regardless of race, ethnicity, religious group, class, sexuality, disability or lifestyle. Therefore it is important to know where you can find helpful advice from dedicated domestic violence and abuse solicitors.
Domestic violence or abuse may include the following areas:
- Physical abuse – slapping, hitting, slapping, biting, hair pulling or burning
- Emotional/psychological abuse – verbal abuse, humiliation, blaming, isolation from family and friends
- Sexual abuse – unwanted sexual contact, rape or being encouraged to take part in sexual acts you don’t want to be a part of
- Financial abuse – being kept without money, having to account for everything you spend or being prevented from getting or keeping a job
- Harassment – being watched, being followed, receiving unwanted phone calls or text messages.
Dealing with harassment
Stalking includes intimidating behaviour whether carried out in person or by phone calls, text messages, the internet or social media or other methods and can be very frightening and intrusive.
Harassment law in the UK
Stalking as well as being a criminal offence, is also a form of harassment, and which also can be the subject of civil proceedings in the family or civil courts. Protection against harassment and stalking is provided by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Harassment is unwanted behaviour, which is offensive, intimidating or humiliating.
The problem of stalking and harassment is receiving increasing cover in the media and there have been many high-profile cases due to the level of threat and fear that such behaviour can result in. The level of personal information that is available on-line has increased vulnerability. Stalking and harassment can include unwanted contact of any nature, whether you are being stalked by an ex-partner or any individual or whether the perpetrator persistently attempts to contact you whether directly, in writing, on social media or by any other means.
Cyber harassment UK law
Harassment and cyber stalking can also be carried out through other means including defamatory statements made about you to others or published about you and can include defamatory on-line posts or Tweets. If the perpetrator persists in their behaviour, including continuing to contact or approach you when you have made it clear that you do not want to have any contact with them, then that is likely to amount to criminal conduct as well as conduct that can be the subject of action in the civil and family courts.
Your first step is to inform your local police force and to ask them to investigate and take action.
You can obtain further protection by means of an application to the courts for orders forbidding the perpetrator from having any further contact with you, including orders that they are not to enter within a certain distance of where you live or work.
Persistence in stalking can mean therefore that the perpetrator, if convicted of a criminal offence or found to be in contempt of court, following breach of court orders, can be subject to imprisonment, suspended sentence or fine.
“Since the Pandemic began we have seen a marked rise in harassment and domestic difficulties and this is reflected in our client base. Parliament has recently moved to only strengthen this protection so it is well worth getting in touch rather than simply ‘soldiering on’ if you find yourself in this situation.”Julius Brookman
Partner, Fletcher Day
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Any contact after a request to stop can amount to harassment, it has occurred on more than two occasions and should be reported to the police if you are feeling harassed or worried. If the level of threat is low, a solicitor’s letter confirming that an immediate end to contact is required and warning of potential legal action may assist in ending the unwanted contact. If there is significant concern about the perpetrator’s conduct or if the contact persists after receipt of such a letter, then the police may take action and /or applications can be made to the court for orders to forbid the contact or other harassment and for other protective orders.
Yes. Where the level of threat and concern is substantial, an application can be made to court for the application to be heard without advance notice being given to the Defendant. If the court is prepared to make such an order without notice, the order will be on an interim basis. After service of the order, the Defendant can return to court to oppose but there will, in the meantime, be the protection from any interim order which will include a Power of Arrest to the police.