Q: My husband is regularly violent towards me when he has been drinking, often in front of the children, but I have been frightened to do anything about it and can’t afford a solicitor. My friend says I should get an injunction against him but how long would it take?
A: If you are on low income you may qualify for legal aid to help pay for a solicitor who can advise you and apply for an injunction. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (0800 970 2070) can offer free help with emergency injunctions and some solicitors such as ourselves still represent legal aid clients despite cutbacks.
However, getting an injunction takes time, so if you think you are in danger from your husband you should call the police as they take domestic violence seriously and can arrest him and issue a domestic violence protection notice.
A domestic violence protection notice acts like a temporary restraining order. It can prohibit your husband from entering your home, being near you wherever you are, or contacting you or your children. It can also prevent him from forcing you to leave the family home. Within 48 hours of the notice being issued, excluding weekends, your husband would be summoned to court where a domestic violence protection order can be issued.
Unlike an injunction which you would have to apply for yourself, a domestic violence protection order is applied for by the police. It is however temporary, lasting only 14-28 days whilst you decide what further steps to take. Meanwhile, if your husband breaches the order he could be arrested.
You really need to act because Social Services would be very concerned to know about your situation and to continue living in this environment is placing your child at risk of emotional and physical harm and may result in care proceedings being issued by the local authority.