Here's how you can get a Safety Order following abuse in a dating relationship 2 years ago

Here's how you can get a Safety Order following abuse in a dating relationship

60 percent of abuse in relationships in Ireland start before the age of 25.

That's just one of the reasons why our laws changed recently to allow people suffering abuse in dating relationships to apply for Safety and Protection Orders.

The Domestic Violence Act 2018 has given victims of domestic violence this opportunity, however there still remains some confusion around what a Safety Order is - and more importantly, who can get one.

Ahead of the launch of this year's #TooIntoYou campaign, Women's Aid have issued a new guide on Safety Orders in a bid to spread the word about what the new law means and how it can help victims.

So, what exactly is a Safety Order? 

A Safety Order can give a person legal protection from an abusive partner or ex partner.

The Order makes it illegal for them to be violent or threaten violence, be verbally abusive, and even contact a person. A Safety Order can last up to five years.

A person doesn't need legal representation to apply for a Safety Order, however a solicitor can file one for a person if requested. Applications are made through a person's local District Court.

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The partner or ex partner will only be notified of the Safety Order once it has been filed. During this time, a person can apply for a temporary Protection Order, which will give them immediate protection.

A person will most likely be asked for evidence of the abuse, whether these be Gardaí or GP reports.

There are no legal fees for applying for a Safety Order, but Women's Aid recommend bringing a solicitor or barrister for the full court hearing.

A person can check if they qualify for legal aid via The Legal Aid Board here.

What happens then?

"At the Safety Order hearing, you and your boyfriend or ex will be in court," say Women's Aid.

"You will give evidence and answer questions from his solicitor. Your boyfriend or ex can respond and your solicitor can question him. It is always advisable to have legal representation.

"If your boyfriend or ex is representing himself at the hearing the Court may prevent him from personally cross-examining you."

Safety Order hearings are held in private, which means there are media restrictions on reporting and restrictions on what can be said outside of court.

If the Safety Order is approved, a person will be given the aforementioned document, which should be kept on the person at all times. The partner or ex partner, and the local Garda station, will also be sent copies of the Safety Order.

If a partner or ex does not abide by the rules of the Safety Order, they will have broken the law and can be prosecuted.

If an Order is not granted, the court will need to explain why. Women's Aid will then help to provide a person with an alternative safety plan.

You can find out more about Safety Orders on the Women's Aid website here. 

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women's Aid on 1800 341 900.