What is a Restraining Order?

If you have no relationship with your abuser and never have had, then you may be able to obtain protection under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which makes it a criminal offence to harass someone or make them fear that violence will be used against them.

  • Harassment is a course of conduct that is deliberately intended to cause a person distress or alarm.
  • A course of conduct is two or more incidents of harassment. An incident of harassment could be a text, a letter or email, a comment or threat, standing outside someone's house, or an act of violence.
  • Putting someone in fear of violence is a course of conduct (see above) that causes another person to fear that violence will be used against them.

If you think you are being harassed by someone, you can report it to the police who may be able to take action against the person responsible.

If that person is prosecuted, but later found not guilty of an offence of harassment, the criminal courts can also make a restraining order if they consider it is necessary to protect you/the victim from further harassment. A restraining order can stop the abuser from doing anything set out in the order including using or threatening violence, communicating with you/ the victim (by phone or email) or going to certain places.

You can also apply for a restraining order yourself by making an application to the civil courts. This may be important if you cannot apply for a non-molestation order because you are not associated to your abuser

For further information, see Rights of Women's Guide to Domestic Violence Injunctions.