What is Domestic Abuse?



What is Domestic Abuse

Melissa Vaughan is a member of Oriel Chambers, Family Team providing help and support. Since the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a surge of cases with many victims feeling that they are trapped in their home and not in a position to escape their abuser.

The Office for National Statistics, in 2019, published the following statistics:

• Almost one in three women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime
• Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales alone
• In the year ending March 2019, an estimated 1.6 million women and 786,000 men experienced domestic abuse.

Here, Melissa provides advice on what steps you can take if you are facing an abusive partner and what legal options are available to you. If you would like any further assistance in any of the topics arising from this article please do not hesitate to contact our clerks at

Melissa Vaughan examines what support networks and legal options are available for those who are in an abusive relationship. Domestic abuse can destroy families and lives and it is important that everyone knows who to turn to for legal assistance. Here, at Oriel Chambers we have many barristers who accept public access work - they are all here to help.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is defined as being any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. This can encompass the following types of abuse:

• Emotional
• Physical
• Psychological
• Financial
• Sexual

What are your options?

For those experiencing abuse, it is so important to be aware of your options to secure safety and protection. At Oriel Chambers, we understand that taking the first step towards dealing with domestic abuse and protecting yourself can be incredibly daunting but it is important that you take steps to protect yourself and family. If you are in imminent danger or at risk of harm, it is imperative that you contact the police to ensure your immediate safety.

Our public access barristers can also provide you with advice regarding your options, which include urgent applications to Court for a non- molestation order and/or an occupation order. We can also put you in touch with local trusted solicitors if we can not represent you on a direct access basis.

What is a non molestation order?

A non molestation order can prohibit the perpetrator from behaving in certain ways towards you and contacting you.

What is an occupation order?

An occupation order can regulate the occupation of the family home and exclude the perpetrator from occupying or entering the property.

Both of these orders can be applied for with notice to the perpetrator, or in the most serious of cases, without notice to them.

Legal Assistance

Often, the biggest question on someone’s mind is how will they afford legal representation? At Oriel Chambers, we have public access barristers who offer reasonable and competitive rates. Contact for further information. Often instructing a public access barrister can be cheaper than having solicitors on board. Not everyone will be suitable but our barristers will make an assessment and will advise accordingly.

Legal Aid

Legal aid may be available to you, which will help you pay for legal advice and representation in court. In order to qualify for legal aid you will have to demonstrate to the legal aid agency that you cannot afford to pay for the legal representation yourself and your case is so serious that there are merits in making a court application.

Proving to the legal aid agency that you cannot afford to pay for legal representation yourself does not just concern your income. They will also look at any capital that you may have, including any equity held in your home if you own a property. This does often result in people not being eligible for legal aid.

The Law Society has called on the government to provide more help and support for victims for domestic abuse. The need has never been higher.

If you are eligible for legal aid, you may not be able to instruct our barristers directly. If this is the case, our clerks at Oriel Chambers will put you in touch with a reputable solicitor who will assist.

If you are directly impacted by legal aid barriers or other financial barriers and you are not in a position to pay for legal advice, you can apply for protection without a lawyer. This will be daunting for many, however, it is possible for the Court to put protective measures in place such as screens and separate waiting rooms.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, do not suffer in silence. You are not alone. Here at Oriel Chambers we are here to support you. Please contact Chambers to arrange a confidential conference with one of our highly experienced barristers.

Important contacts

In an emergency situation, please contact the police. If you call the police but are unable to talk and you are calling from a mobile phone dial ‘55’. This will mean that the call will still be put through to the police and they will be notified that you are in a situation which makes talking or whispering difficult.

For further help and support contact the following:

Refuge 24 hour helpline: 0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 8010327
Women’s Aid:
For a confidential conference with a public access barrister about any of the issues raised, please contact

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