Protecting yourself and your child from domestic abuse
If you are living in an abusive relationship and are worried about your safety and the safety of your child, help is available. All victims of domestic abuse, men and women, have the right to be safe in their own home and are entitled to the same help.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence can include physical abuse and verbal threats. It can also include more subtle attacks, such as constant breaking of trust, isolation, mind games and harassment. It can affect partners in all types of relationships and can also involve violence between parents and children.
What can you do?
If you are in an abusive relationship there are three important steps you can take:
- recognise that it is happening to you
- accept that you are not to blame
- get help and support
What help is available?
In an emergency, for example, if you are being threatened with violence or attacked, or are in fear of this, you should call the police on 999 (minicom 0800 112 999) immediately. Domestic violence is treated very seriously by the police and the courts.
You can also contact the 24 hour domestic violence freephone helpline:
- 0800 917 1414
A landline call from this number does not show on the caller’s bill and it is open to anyone affected by domestic violence. A language line for non-English speaking callers and Textphone for those with hearing difficulties are also available using this number.
You can also contact the Police Service for Northern Ireland Domestic Violence Officers who can give specialist advice and support on:
- 0845 600 8000
You can apply to the court for protective civil orders. These are called non-molestation orders and occupation orders:
- a non molestation order will protect you from threats and/or actual violence and abuse
- an occupation order will remove your abuser for your home, allowing you to remain there
There are other people and organisations you can turn to if you are a victim of domestic violence. These can include your doctor, local support groups and charities.
Additionally, you may wish to tell a relative, friend or neighbour about your concerns and ask them to help you take action.
Helping yourself and your child
If you or your children are being subjected to either physical or emotional abuse at home you should seek help as soon as possible. Your abuser may threaten you by saying that if you leave or tell anyone about the violence, your child will be taken away from you. Social services will not take your child away from you for this reason.
If you fear your partner will abduct the child, get advice as soon as possible. Your local Women's Aid group, Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor can advise you on how to protect your child and how contact between your child and a violent partner can be restricted or supervised. If you do not have a solicitor, telephone the Law Society of Northern Ireland. They will give you a list of family law solicitors in your area.