When danger lurks at home: What you need to know about protection from family violence

Find out the legal options available to victims of family violence, here.

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Family violence is often a difficult area to tread, as victims are subject to violent conduct from people they trust most, often right in their own home. This then makes the fear and threat of further violence more imminent and more dangerous for the victims.

It is imperative that victims of family crime know their rights and seek legal help immediately in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.

The Singapore Women’s Charter protects family members from a range of different violent acts. The definition of “family member” under Section 64 of the Women’s Charter includes all of the following:

  • Spouse or former spouse;
  • Child, adopted child, step-child;
  • Father or mother;
  • Father-in-law or mother-in-law;
  • Brother or sister; and
  • Any other relative that should be regarded as a family member.

Section 64 also defines “family violence”, being:

  • Wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place a family member in fear of hurt
  • Causing hurt to a family member which is known or ought to have been known would result in hurt
  • Wrongfully confining or restraining a family member against their will
  • Causing continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing it is likely to cause anguish to a family member
  • But does not include any force lawfully used in self-defence, or by way of correction towards a child below 21 years of age

As can be observed, these definitions are very broad, allowing for greater protection against different types of family violence from a range of family members.

Protection options available to victims on the next page.

Who can apply for a PPO (Personal Protection Order)?

A PPO can be applied for in the Family Court in person or through a Family Lawyer for ease and peace of mind. It includes any of the below family members:

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  • Spouse or ex-spouse
  • Child, including adopted or step child
  • Parents
  • In-laws
  • Siblings
  • Any other relative

There are 3 different types of orders that the Court can make for protection from family violence. They are:

  1. Protection Order: a general order that prevents the respondent from using violence against the victim. This must be applied for first before the following two orders
  1. Expedited Order (EO): a temporary order that lasts for 28 days from the date it was served to the respondent. This is generally granted depending on the urgency of the victim’s situation
  1. Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO): an order that excludes or restricts the respondent from entering the victim’s residence or parts of the residence

These orders are made when on a balance of probabilities, family violence has been committed or is likely to be committed on a family member and it is necessary for the protection of the family member.

There are consequences on the person for any breach of an order. For the 1st breach, there can be a fine up to S$2,000 or jail up to 6 months or both. For any subsequent breach, there can be a fine up to S$5,000 or jail up to 12 months or both. To learn more about Personal Protection Orders, click here.

Article contribution by Specialist Family Law Firm Gloria James-Civetta & Co

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