When relationships end it can be a traumatic and difficult time. Unfortunately some people experience behaviour from their ex that can be frightening, intimidating and relentless.
No-one should have to live with harassment or intimidation. If you find yourself in a situation where your ex is harassing you there are several things you should consider;-
- Ignore them
If your ex is sending messages via text, social media, email or post etc, ignore them. Do not respond in any way. A response of any kind will only entice your ex to send further messages. It may simply be the case that they are trying to provoke a reaction or trying to salvage the relationship. If you do not respond, the messages may end.
You should save all messages that are sent and keep a careful record of any telephone calls that come from your ex’s number. If ignoring them for a couple of days does not work, then at least with a clear record of what has been happening, you will have evidence of their behaviour.
- Change your details
Always consider changing your telephone numbers and security settings on your email accounts etc. Consider deleting social media pages on sites such as Facebook, Twitter or block your ex’s access.
It is not always possible to change your telephone number easily especially if you use it for business purposes. In these situations consider using a separate number and gradually phasing the old number out.
- Change your routine
If your ex knows your daily routine and knows where to find you make changes, even small ones so that you do not come into contact with them. Notify your place of work that the relationship has ended if you believe that your ex may unexpectedly visit. They can then ensure that your ex is not given any information and can report any visits to you.
- Keep a diary of events
Keep a clear record somewhere of all messages, calls and events that take place. Make sure you include the date, time and nature of what happened. This is important so that if further action is needed there is a clear history of what has happened since the end of the relationship.
- Use a third party
If there are children from the relationship and contact with your ex is appropriate, use a third party such as a relative or friend to do the handovers. This will reduce the need for you to come into direct contact with each other.
- Contact the Police
It is vital if the behaviour from your ex is unbearable or frightening that you report matters to the Police. All the suggestions above will help you to clearly show to the Police the steps you have taken to avoid your ex and the nature of the behaviour you have been subjected to.
The Police have various powers in relation to harassment and domestic violence. They can arrest people for many offences ranging from harassment, to stalking, to violence offences. The police have the ability to issue warnings about behaviour which is sometimes enough to bring it to an end. They can also issues cautions, bail conditions, course of conduct warnings and obtain Domestic Violence Orders from the court.
If the Police take no action other than to note your concerns, this is still recorded on a log and each time you report an incident to the police it will be added to that log. This again helps to show a pattern of behaviour and a history to your situation.
- Contact a Solicitor
As a solicitor, there are many ways we can help. Warning letters can be sent to your ex to clearly set out what communication if any you, are prepared to have with them and the consequences that will follow if their behaviour continues. We can help to sort out contact arrangements, divorces, financial settlements and by instructing a solicitor, it removes a lot of the need for communication directly between you.
Solicitors are also able to advise about the applications that can be made to the Family Court for your protection from harm. Applications can be made for either a Non Molestation order or for an Occupation Order.
Non Molestation Order
A Non Molestation Order is an order that protects you and if necessary your children from harm. You have to be able to demonstrate that there is a significant risk of harm to you. This is why Police logs and event diaries can be important. They can help to remind you of events that have taken place, calls that have been made or messages that have been received that you might otherwise have forgotten. The more information and evidence that can be put into an application, the more likely it is that the application will succeed.
When an order is made it sets out various terms confirming to your ex what is expected of their behaviour. The order may state that they are not to contact you, use of threaten violence against you, attend at your house, attend within so many metres of your house or visit your place of work. The orders are usually made for a period of 6 -12 months and contain an automatic power of arrest. This means that if your ex disobeys the order, the Police automatically have the power to arrest them and decide whether to prosecute.
In some cases an Order is not always necessary. Your ex may be invited to give an Undertaking to the court in similar terms to those mentioned above. An Undertaking is a promise made to the Court. If your ex breaks that promise, then it is contempt of court and an application can be made to the court for their committal to prison.
An Occupation Order is an order that protects you from harm by excluding your ex from your property or by preventing them from returning. In some cases an application is not necessary where your ex has already left and an exclusion zone is in place via a Non Molestation Order.
Applications of this nature are important in cases where houses are owned jointly or where your ex has made repeated attempts to return or has returned to the property. The order will exclude them from a certain date and time and can make provision for payment of the mortgage/rent.
The Occupation Order can last for 6 – 12 months or longer if necessary. It is normally only a short term order because people usually resolve the long term future of the occupation of the home, shortly after they separate. For example who is going to live there and whether the tenancy or mortgage can be transferred to one person.
- Seek help
There are many organisations designed to help people who are suffering from domestic violence and harassment. Most towns and cities have dedicated domestic abuse projects, which offer a range of support and guidance. You should consult your local projects for support. The details can usually be found on the internet, yellow pages and from places such as your GP surgery. You should always consider speaking to your GP for support for emotional and physical injuries.
In all cases where harassment and domestic violence is an issue it is vital that matters are dealt with as quickly as possible so that the behaviour does not escalate and so that you are free to move on with your life.
For more information an appointment can be made for you to meet one of our team and discuss your circumstances. We offer an initial consultation for a fixed price of £180 inclusive of VAT. Legal aid remains available in cases where domestic violence or harassment is an issue subject to conditions.