What can I do?
Call the police, telephone 999
Alternatively, the 24 hour national domestic violence helpline 0808 2000 247
What to do if it is happening near me?
If you observe domestic violence, or if you believe someone is about to endure physical or emotional abuse, the appropriate thing to do is to contact the police immediately, telephone 999. They will know what to do next.
How do I know the threshhold that separates emotional abuse and domestic violence?
In lots of cases, they are the same thing. If you don't know whether or not emotional abuse constitutes domestic violence, contact the police (telephone 999) and ask for help. They will know what to do next.
What if the victim is not a woman?
The UK recognizes that men can also be victims of domestic violence and emotional abuse, and the first courses of action are the same regardless of sex: call the police and get to a hospital.
What about immigrant spouses on the UK on probationary visas?
The Immigration Rules were amended in 2003 to allow the grant of Indefinite Leave To Remain to someone who has limited leave to remain as the the spouse of a person present and settled in the UK where the relationship has broken down due to domestic violence during the probationary period. The probationary period for those granted a spouse visa before 1 April 2003 was 1 year and thereafter 2 years; the spouse visa itself runs for 27 months.
You must submit evidence of the domestic violence in the form of:
The Home Office appreciate that it can be difficult to obtain enough evidence for prosecutions etc for various reasons and they will also consider as evidence more than one item from:
The main aspects you need to satisfy is that the breakdown of the relationship due to domestic violence occurred during the probationary period and that the marriage was subsisting at the time of the breakdown.
UPDATE 3 May 2011: Applicants for settlement as victims of domestic violence must be free of unspent convictions. The Ministerial Statement confirming this can be found here. Note that this rule still remains the topic of vigorous dispute between the government and various women's rights organisations.
UPDATE 1 April 2012: A change to the Home Office's policy on access to public funds for victims of domestic violence was introduced in April 2012. This policy provides limited entitlement to emergency funds. A tip of the hat goes to the Southall Black Sisters for the work they did on securing this policy.
UKBA's web page for domestic violence is at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/while-in-uk/domesticviolence
Applications for Settlement
Satisfying the requirements for settlement as a victim of domestic violence is thought to be a rigorous process and legal assistance is emphatically recommended. In a communication sent in August 2008 in response to a Freedom of Information request, the Home Office admitted that they refer to 'unpublished guidance' in assessing applications. What this means is that some of the criteria to successfully qualify for settlement as a victim of domestic violence is essentially classified information. Based upon this, we suggest that a legal representative be selected with the utmost of caution and diligence, preferably one with an established and stable reputation, and who is able to rely upon ILPA's document archives.
We have observed, for example, that the Camden Community Law Centre (among others) has been successful in this practice area. This organisation is available to Camden Borough residents only and victims should check for a corresponding law centre in their own locale that has established a practice area in domestic violence.
In terms of raw numbers, in 2006 there were 1,129 applications, in 2007 there were 1,316 applications, and in 2008 there were 778 applications. Some of these were successful on the first attempt, and the success rate for appeals has averaged about 64%.
How do I get evidence?
As a first course of action the police should invariably be contacted (telephone 999).
Secondarily, the victim should immediately report to the Accident and Emergency unit of a hospital so as to document physical and emotional abuse. Failure to take this step can jeopardize (and HAS jeopardized) an applicant's ability to provide quality evidence to the Home Office. The Accident and Emergency unit of a hospital can also make referrals to support groups and has staff trained to do this.
Also, we like the Southhall Black Sisters as an initial point of contact for victims of domestic violence.
How to find legal help?
Please see the "Finding Legal Assistance" site for how to legal advice for victims of domestic violence. Remember to tick both the 'immigration' and 'family' boxes because domestic violence is comingled with family law.
To follow up on this information, check our Internet Resources page...
Reviewed 9 May 2012