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.
  • 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.

Domestic abuse is dealt with both under the criminal law and the civil law. The two systems are separate and are administered by separate courts. Learn more

  • 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.

Survivor's Handbook

The Survivor’s Handbook provides practical information for women experiencing domestic abuse, with simple guidance on every aspect of seeking support.

Getting an injunction

Police and the criminal prosecution service

Child contact and legal support

Back to Survivors Handbook

Getting legal advice

If you have a legal problem you should seek proper legal advice. These organisations can support you:

Rights of Women. You can contact their free Legal Advice Lines for women by women. Their advice lines cover Family Law, Criminal Law, Immigration and Asylum Law and they have a specific line for women in London.

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.

Domestic Violence Assist. The UK’s only registered charity arranging Non-Molestation Orders, Prohibited Steps Orders & Occupation Orders. Call their freephone number on 0800 195 8699.

Coram Legal Centre. Provides free legal advice and information on child and family issues.

Civil Legal Advice. Find out if you’re eligible for Legal Aid at the government website.

© 2022 Women's Aid Federation of England – Women’s Aid is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 3171880.

Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

Terms & conditionsPrivacy & cookie policyProtect yourself onlineMedia │ Jobs │ Accessibility Guide

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?