I want to protect my child

You have options if you want to protect your child from abuse:

  • get legal protection through a court order
  • ask your local council to rehouse you and your child
  • leave your home and find somewhere safe to stay
    • with friends or relatives
    • in a refuge
    • renting your own place

Get legal protection

You and your family may be able to get legal protection from your abuser through a court order:

  • a non-molestation order to stop the abuser harming or threatening you
  • an occupation order to get the abuser to leave your home
  • a domestic violence protection order to keep the abuser out of your home immediately after a violent incident

There are other court orders that control the relationship an abusive parent has with your child after you’ve separated:

  • a child arrangements order controls the nature of each parent’s contact with the child
  • a specific issue order controls important decisions about a child’s upbringing
  • a prohibited steps order stops a parent from doing something they’d normally be allowed to do

Talk to your local council

When you report child abuse to your local council, its children’s social care team must quickly investigate.

If it’s not safe for you and your child to be at home, the local council may consider you to be legally homeless.

This means it has a duty to find you somewhere else to live, or emergency accommodation while it looks more into your case.

Social workers will carry out an assessment or hold a special meeting of people involved in the case, such as teachers, police and social workers, as well as parents (sometimes separately). The meeting is called a child protection conference.

If the local council decides that the child needs their support (called a ‘child in need’), it will take action to protect your child and draw up a child protection plan to ensure their safety for the future.

Local councils can also apply for a range of court orders to make sure children do not come to harm.

Find a refuge

A refuge is a safe place for you and your children to stay in an emergency. You can usually get a place on the day you call. You can’t book ahead.

Call the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for help with finding a place in a refuge.

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