Q: My friend has not been getting along with her boyfriend who she lives with. I think he is being violent towards her but she is too scared to end the relationship because she does not want to move out of the house they share. What should she do?
A: If you are right, clearly the situation cannot continue. You should urge your friend to take legal advice from a solicitor to discuss her various options at this difficult time as there are a number of Orders that can be applied for from the Family Courts in respect of domestic violence.
Whether it is an incident or series of incidents of controlling or threatening behaviour, or physical, emotional and/or psychological violence or abuse, a Non Molestation Order can be obtained to prevent someone from being subjected to inappropriate, unpleasant behaviour. This can include preventing someone from using or threatening physical violence, intimidating someone, harassing or pestering someone and can also include preventing someone from encouraging others to do so.
An Occupation Order can be obtained to regulate rights over a property. This can suspend rights to occupy a property and/or prevent a person from returning to a property. It would depend on the circumstances as to whether the Court would deem this to be appropriate. In some circumstances it is appropriate to make applications for both Orders. If there is an immediate risk to someone’s welfare an urgent application can be made to the Court without notice.
There are numerous agencies that can offer advice and support that could benefit your friend. Depending on her financial circumstances, legal aid may be available for advice and assistance and if necessary, to represent her in any proceedings. Seeking legal advice from a law firm with expertise in family law would be a good starting place.