Q. I admit my husband has a very stressful job but lately he has been shouting at me and the children more and more, to the point where I am becoming a nervous wreck and the children are frightened when he is around. I really want to leave him to protect the children from his abusive behaviour, but I do not work and I have nowhere to go. What can I do?
A. The government definition of domestic violence was changed recently to ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality’.
As it appears that you are a victim of domestic abuse you may qualify for legal aid to enable you to commence divorce and financial proceedings against your husband. An application could be made to the Court for an Order that your husband continue to support you and the children financially until the divorce proceedings have been finalised. It would be possible for you to also apply to the Court for an Occupation Order which could basically remove him from the home, but this may take some time and would usually not be awarded without your husband being given the opportunity of giving the Court his version of events.
If you genuinely fear your husband and believe he is emotionally harming the children with his behaviour you should seek advice from your local authority children services and also Women’s Aid on 0808 2000 247 (England) 0808 8010 800 (Wales). They will listen to your concerns, signpost you to other organisations or lawyers that can help and may be able to arrange for you and your children to be temporarily placed in a refuge.