No one should live in fear, but unfortunately, there are thousands of women who live in daily terror, for themselves and their children. The source of that terror is often a husband or partner, a former partner or a relative, who is abusive and threatening. The abuse is not always physical and emotional and psychological abuse can have just as much of an impact and cause high levels of intimidation, fear and anxiety.
An ONS government report from March 2020 estimated that 1.6 million women aged 16 to 74 years in England and Wales experienced some form of domestic abuse – about seven per cent of the population, and this refers to those incidents that have been reported. There are possibly tens of thousands more, many of which are repeat incidences, that never get reported.
If you are someone who is struggling from the constant threat of abuse and harassment from someone, and you and your children are living in constant fear, then you may be in a position to apply for a non-molestation order to gain yourself a degree of protection. To learn more about a non-molestation order in the UK, read on.
What is a non-molestation order?
A non-molestation order is a court order that can protect you from abuse and harassment by a named associated individual, usually a partner or former partner. The order can prohibit that person from subjecting you to physical violence, threatening, intimidating and harassing behaviour and from contacting you by any means.
Provisions of a non-molestation order can prevent the abuser from:
- Contacting you and sometimes your children in any manner, for example by phone, email, through social media or by approaching you in person.
- Contacting or approaching you at your place of work.
- Acting violently, abusively or in an intimidating manner towards you or your children.
How easy is it to get a non-molestation order?
While every case varies and it is a decision for the Court to make whether or not to grant an order you can strengthen your chances of being granted one if you can provide some evidence of the behaviour of the other person. This could include:
- A detailed diary of any incidents that have been perpetrated by your abuser – both towards you and your children if you have any.
- Any photographic or video evidence of incidents that have occured
- Any text messages, social media messages, emails and physical letters and notes that are abusive and threatening.
- Photographic evidence of any injuries sustained, plus any doctor or hospital reports.
- Any reports from social workers, teachers, police, or other government services.
However, there is no guarantee that an order will be granted. The decision will be made on a case-by-case basis and will take into account individual circumstances and the evidence that you have presented.
How long do non-molestation orders last?
The length of a non-molestation order is decided by the judge and usually lasts between six and 12 months, although they can sometimes be made for longer.
Can I apply for a non-molestation order myself?
If you are being abused or harassed by someone who falls in any of the following categories, you are within your rights to make an application for a non-molestation order.
- Someone with whom you were previously in a relationship but have since separated.
- Someone with whom you are currently in a relationship.
- A close family member, such as a parent, sibling, aunt, or uncle.
- Someone with whom you have joint parental responsibility.
I’m being stalked – can I take a non-molestation order out on my stalker?
If you know your stalker, and they are an ex-partner or family member, then a non-molestation order might be applicable. However, if your stalker is a stranger, then you may want to explore the alternative possibility of taking out a stalking protection order or a civil injunction.
What happens if the non-molestation order is breached?
If you are granted a non-molestation order by the Court it needs to be served on the person who has subjected you to abuse for it to be enforceable against them. Should they breach the order in any way this should be reported to the Police who should take any necessary action which could include criminal proceedings, a conviction for breaching the order and a possible term of imprisonment. The maximum sentence for breaking a non-molestation order is a five-year prison sentence and a fine.
Can my abuser challenge the non-molestation order?
Yes the other party will be given an opportunity to attend Court and oppose the Order. It is at this stage that it becomes very important to ensure that you have any evidence to support your application.
Can I apply through legal aid?
You may be able to apply for legal aid to make a non-molestation order application. Affordable Justice specialises in providing advice and representation in relation to non-molestation orders and can help and support you through the entire process. Contact our legal team for more information.