Surge in people looking for court protection from violent partners
There has been a dramatic surge in the number of domestic violence victims seeking protection and safety orders through the courts.
Applications for protection orders have risen by 16pc over an eight-year period to 2014. There were 4,024 orders made last year.
These are temporary safety orders, giving protection until a court decides on a safety or barring order application.
Meanwhile, applications for safety orders numbered 5,500 last year, up by 55pc from 2007.
A safety order prohibits a person from engaging in violence or threats of violence.
Protection and safety orders do not oblige that person to leave the family home.
If they do not normally live in the family home, a safety order prohibits them from watching or being in the vicinity of where the person applying for the order and dependent children live.
The Courts Service figures also revealed the number of applications for barring orders has fallen by 2.5pc last year, with 2,671 applications. That's a 20pc drop between 2007 and 2014.
Meanwhile, the number of barring orders made - the actual numbers of people barred from their homes for reasons of domestic violence - was down 38pc over the same period.
"The drop in barring orders is unsurprising, as many women report how difficult it is to get a barring order especially where there has not been recent physical violence," Margaret Martin, the Director of Women's Aid said.
"Many abusive partners are aware of this and instead use emotional, financial and sexual abuse to control and undermine their partners.
"Where a barring order application is unsuccessful it is likely that a safety order would be granted which would add to the increase in the number of safety orders.
"In addition with the current housing crisis, some women do not want to see their partners homeless despite the abuse and instead apply for a safety order," Ms Martin added.
Barring orders can be made for up to three years and require a person to stay away from the family home of the applicant.
Ms Martin said that eligibility for protection and safety orders was extended in August 2011 to couples with a child in common.
"Women's Aid had lobbied for almost a decade to secure this extension as approximately 10pc of callers to its National Freephone Helpline were women not living with their partner but who had a child in common," she explained.
Overall, the number of applications to the District Court for relief under domestic violence legislation numbered 13,538 last year.