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family courts series

A Week in the Family Court: 'Last night he kicked my door in. I live in total fear of my son' spent a week observing cases in the Family Court. Here’s a selection of the safety orders that appeared before the courts.

Updated 11.25pm


This article is part of a series on the Family Court which can be viewed here>>

LAST YEAR, there was a 5% increase in the amount of applications made under domestic violence legislation to 13,275. Between 2011 and 2012, there was a 19% increase in applications. spent a week observing cases in the Family Court. Here are a selection of just some of the cases relating to domestic violence that appear before the courts:

Temporary safety order awarded to woman who feared for her safety

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A young woman from a jurisdiction in the African continent appeared before a judge saying she was assaulted by a man in the residency where she lived. The woman lives in a Direct Provision centre.

The judge asked if she knew the man and if she in a relationship with him.

The woman said her relationship with the man was “non consensual” but she told the court that she feared for her safety when the man was near her. She told the court he had hit her across the face.

She made an application to the court for a temporary safety order – which temporarily prohibits the person against whom the order is made from engaging in violence or threats of violence.

The application for a temporary safety order was approved by the judge who said that she should take it immediately to her local Garda station to show them, before she showed the man that it had been taken out against him.

The court heard that her mother had also been given a safety order against the same man on that day.

Woman says she ‘can’t take the violence any more’

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A woman who had been married to her husband for over 10 years appeared before the court seeking a barring order against him.

She told the judge that he had assaulted her the day before.

“He hit my in the face and my shoulder,” she told the judge, saying that there was a history of violence.

He hit me and left before the police arrived.

“It has been constant but I just cannot take it anymore,” she said.

The judge asked the applicant if she had any children. She told him that she had two children in the home that she shares with her husband.

The judge wished to clarify that she was looking for a barring order – meaning the man would be barred from the home in which he currently lives.

“Oh no, I don’t want him out of the home,” she answered.

The judge said that what she is seeking is a protection order, which means that the man is not to touch the woman again, and if he does so is in breach of the court order.

It is a temporary safety order that gives protection to the applicant until the court decides on a safety or barring order application.

“I will absolutely grant that for you,” said the judge. He explained that the protection order comes into effect when the order is seen by the man or when she informs her husband that she has taken it out against him.

He instructed her to show the order to her local gardaí before bringing it to the attention of her husband.

‘I just can’t live with it any more, I live in total fear of my sons’

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A mother appeared before the court seeking a safety order against her two sons.

She told the court that she was the mother of two grown men, both in their 20s. She told the judge she needed a safety order to protect her from what she feared her two sons might do to her.

She told the court that one son, in his late 20s, who did not live with her, was threatening her with violence. She has been forced to call the gardaí on multiple occasions.

“I need a safety order against him. I just can’t live with it anymore,” she told the judge, visibly upset.

She said she also needed a safety order against her other son, who was living in her home.

“He constantly abuses me. He calls me names, smashes things up and last night he kicked in my bedroom door,” she said.

“I live in total fear of him in my own home,” she said.

The judge said he would grant her protection orders (temporary safety orders), but told her that even as a mother, under the law, she has the right to take out a barring order against her sons if she wished, meaning the court order could remove them from her home.

The mother said she had asked her son to leave the house a while ago.

I am afraid he is going to lash out at me. I’m so afraid of him.

It is important to remember that domestic violence impacts on men also. Although no case appeared before the court in which attended, the following is a previous case cited in the The Child Care Law Reporting Project in 2009

‘She’s too drunk to strike me hard’

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In a case dating from 2009, an unmarried father, attended court seeking a barring order against his partner.

He told the judge that his partner, who was not in court, was a violent and abusive alcoholic.

She had twice been to a rehabilitation centre but was now totally out of control, he told the court. He told the judge that she knew the case was being heard in court but she refused to attend.

The father told the court that they had children together a teenager and a younger child.

The court heard that the mother was constantly screaming, shouting and breaking things in the house. He claimed that she had physically assaulted him.

She tries to hit me, bit she can’t strike me hard on account of being so drunk.

Asked if she had assaulted the children he said “hand on heart, I have to say no, but
her behaviour is affecting them badly”.

The court heard that the teenager had gone to live with another relative as “he couldn’t take the stress anymore”.

The younger child “loves the bones of his mother” said the father, but only when she is sober.

He told the court that he could not cope with her erratic behaviour, saying that it is an “awful situation”.

The judge suggested a protection order might be more appropriate, but the father
said his children needed her to stay away. The judge granted the barring
order for one year.

‘A Week in the Family Courts’ series will be running all this week on Read what the groups working with domestic violence in Ireland think needs to be done to improve the situation here>>>

Tomorrow we will bring you cases relating to the breakdown of relationships that feature in the Family Courts and analysis of some of the issues. 

First published 6.30am

Read: A Week in the Family Court: ‘There needs to be intervention before we reach crisis point’>

Read: A Week in the Family Court: 6,500 children are in care – here are some of their stories>

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