Your legal rights
If you are frightened of your current or former partner, then you have a right to be protected under the law. These are some of the legal options you have:
- You have rights under the criminal law. Being assaulted by someone you know or live with is just as much a crime as violence from a stranger, and often more dangerous. See Police and the criminal prosecution process for more information.
- You can apply for a civil court order to tell your abuser to stop harassing or hurting you, or to keep out of or away from your home. See Getting an injunction for information on these options.
- You can get help with emergency or temporary accommodation. See Where can I go? - Housing options for more information.
- The law can also help to protect children. You can apply to the Family Courts for an order specifying where and with whom the children should live, and regulating contact with the other parent. See Making arrangements for children after separation and in particular the sections on Contact with the other parent, Residence and Threatened abduction.
- The civil law is primarily aimed at protection (or in some cases compensation). A survivor of domestic violence can make an application for an injunction (a court order) either to the Family Proceedings Court or the County Court (usually through her solicitor). Other family proceedings (such as child contact or divorce) also take place in the County Court.
- The criminal law is primarily aimed at punishing the offender. The police together with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initiate the process. Criminal cases are heard in either the Magistrates' Court or the Crown Court depending on the severity of the charge.
You can contact their free Legal Advice Line for women by women: 020 7251 6577 (telephone) or 020 7490 2562 (textphone). Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday 2–4pm and 7–9pm. Also open Friday, 12–2pm.
They also run a free Sexual Violence Legal Advice Line for women by women: 020 7251 8887 (telephone) or 020 7490 2562 (textphone)
Open Mondays 11am-1pm and Tuesdays 10am-12pm.
Southall Black Sisters
Provides advice and information on domestic violence, racial harassment, welfare and immigration, primarily for Asian, African and African-Caribbean women. Casework primarily undertaken in London Borough of Ealing, but deals with enquiries on a national basis.
Tel: 020 8571 9595 (Mon-Fri 10am–5pm closed Wed)
Fax: 020 8574 6781
e-mail: southallblacksisters@ btconnect.com
You can also purchase the Women's Aid leaflet 'Domestic violence: Your legal rights'
Police and the criminal prosecution process
Getting an injunction
Useful links on legal advice
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