When you are leaving an abusive relationship, legal protection is available to you. If you live in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea or Westminster, call Advance on 020 8741 7008 to find out more, otherwise call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for advice.

What you can do:

You can apply for a non-molestation order, to protect yourself from all forms of violence and abuse. You can also apply for an occupation order, which allows you to occupy the home and ban an abuser from being there. You can get both these orders through solicitors or an organisation like Advance can liaise to get one for you. You can also do it yourself by filling out an order application form (these are available online), making three copies of it, writing a statement about the abuse you have suffered and bringing all these documents to the County Court in the morning (appointment not necessary). If you need the order to come into effect as a matter of urgency, you will need to explain why in your statement and may also need supporting letters from police or doctors. In certain cases you may be able to get a restraining order to ensure an abuser does not come within a certain distance of you. It is a criminal offense for an abuser to break these orders.

There are also different types of financial benefits legally available to you if you are no longer able to support yourself as a result of leaving an abuser. Advance and the National Domestic Violence Helpline can advise on these. They can also provide advice about how to legally protect your children. Your options include contact orders, residence orders, prohibited steps orders, parental responsibility orders and specific issue orders.

Legal aid can help you pay for legal advice, mediation, representation in court and some tribunals. A solicitor will help you find out if you qualify for legal aid in civil cases and police officers will help you find out in criminal cases.

If you can’t get legal aid, you can get free advice from:

If you have immigration related concerns, and you live in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea or Westminster, call Advance on 020 8741 7008 to find out more, otherwise call the National Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for advice. The Destitution Domestic Violence (DDV) concession can offer you protection and help you access funds if you have experienced domestic abuse, are an immigrant and are worried about financial security if you leave the abuser. This is administered by the UK Border Agency. This applies if you entered the UK as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner of someone settled in the UK and your relationship has broken down due to domestic abuse and you no longer have means to support yourself.

You can inform the UK Border agency that you need public funds by completing a form which can be downloaded from:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-benefits-for-visa-holder-domestic-violence

If you wish to return to another country to get safe from domestic abuse, alone or with children, but you do not have a passport or someone is withholding your passport you can obtain a temporary passport from the embassy of the country you wish to travel to. You will need the police and an agency like Advance to write a letter to support your claim.

If you are preparing to leave an abusive relationship it is very important that you contact the police and organisations like Advance to ensure you have the protection you need throughout this process, please phone the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for more information.