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Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse:

  • Will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime

  • Leads to, on average, two women being murdered each week and 30 men per year

  • Domestic abuse accounts for 16% of all violent crimes (Source: Crime in England and Wales 04/05 report), and yet it is still the crime least likely to be reported to the police

  • Has more repeat victims than any other crime (on average there will have been 35 assaults before a victim calls the police)

  • Is the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless (Shelter, 2002)

  • Approximately 400 people commit suicide each year who have previously attended hospital for domestic violence injuries in the previous six months, 200 of these attended hospital the very same day they went on to commit suicide.

  • Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse. The law now recognises children who witness abuse as victims.

Puzzle Piece Law

How can we help?

Puzzle Piece Law is an independent family law consultancy that provides low-cost legal advice. Those seeking to escape from an abusive relationship often feel trapped because they don’t have access to support and advice, particularly in respect of their rights when it comes to the family home, children and finances. Where legal advice cannot be accessed through legal aid, survivors have nowhere else to turn as legal advice can be costly and beyond their means. Puzzle Piece Law bridges that gap in legal advice, giving initial advice absolutely free and then providing a low-cost alternative to solicitors empowering survivors and helping them navigate their way through the legal minefield to freedom from the relationship.

Our founder Cheryl Thornley is passionate about supporting survivors of abuse and about those representing themselves through the family courts having access to the information they need to make the right decisions. Cheryl’s experience of working with victims and survivors of abuse emanates from her career in the police, her former role as Head of Legal for the National Centre for Domestic Violence and the extensive experience in the family courts as a Family Law Consultant successfully securing protective injunctions for many clients, and supporting clients fighting through the courts in child contact and financial matters where domestic abuse is highly relevant including coercive and controlling behaviour.

Puzzle Piece Law prides itself on approaching the support of each client holistically. Unlike law firms, we sign post clients to support programmes such as the Freedom Programme and other providers of support such as MK:ACT, Women’s Aid and Gingerbread. We support both male and female survivors of abuse and our support and advice extends beyond the typical legal advice provided by other law firms.

Local and National Partners and Support Organisations

Standing next to city river

Other Support Organisations


We want a society in which single parent families are treated equally and fairly.

To get there, we provide information to help single parents support themselves and their family. And we campaign and influence policy to reduce stigma against single parents, and make services more accessible to all families – whatever their shape or size.


Abuse ruins childhood, but it can be prevented. That’s why we’re here. That’s what drives all.


Our confidential helpline is available for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence across the UK as well as their friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues and employers.

We provide an information, support and signposting service to men suffering from domestic abuse from their current or former wife, partner (including same-sex partner) or husband. This can range from physical violence or object throwing to abuse such as constant bullying or insults.


Relate 0300 003 0396

You can talk to Relate about your relationship, including issues around domestic abuse.

National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247

A 24 hour free helpline run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge.

Men's Advice Line 0808 801 0327

Advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 999 5428

Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse.

Puzzle Piece Law

Free resources

Access and download free factsheets from our clients frequently asked questions including;

  • Child Arrangements

  • Non-Molestation Orders

  • Occupation Orders

  • Evidence required for injunction applications

  • Specific Issue and Prohibited Steps Orders

  • Divorce

  • Court forms

Protection from abuse

A victim of domestic abuse can get protection from their abuser through injunctions granted under the Family Law Act 1996.

Under Family Law Act 1996 a non-molestation order can be granted which prohibits a person ‘molesting’ another.

Molestation includes:

Threats of violence

Abusive language


Abusive messages

A non-molestation order is intended to protect a person ‘associated’ with the respondent/abuser or a relevant child. This generally means they must have been in or are in a relationship with each other, have lived with each other or are related to each other.

An occupation order is an order under conferring, declaring, restricting or regulating rights of occupation in the family home between parties who are in, or who have been in, certain categories of relationship.

The application for both orders are made on Form FL401, which must be supported by a detailed witness statement verified by a statement of truth. There are no court fees to submit the form.

The evidential statement is crucial in securing either order.

For support help and guidance, please get in touch today.

Client 7

Puzzle Piece Law Client Testimonial

Outstanding support

‘Cheryl sorted out my non-molestation order. I cannot explain how knowledgeable, professional, and supportive she was throughout my court case. With her help I got my order and was able to extend it for an additional 6 months. I highly recommend Cheryl’. Mrs H

Criminal Injury Compensation

As a victim of domestic abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. The Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (CICA) is a government funded scheme designed to compensate blameless victims of crime. Provided you meet certain criteria, you could be entitled to claim compensation. The criteria includes (but not limited to):

  • The injury must have occurred in the last 2 years (there are some exceptions to this such as sexual assault).

  • The crime must have been reported to Police and their investigation was conducted with your support.

  • It must have taken place in England, Scotland or Wales.

  • The injury must have occurred through no fault of your own.

No amount of money can ever truly compensate you for the injury or loss you have suffered, but the scheme supports victims, by giving them a way of recovering compensation to help rebuild their lives. Victims of domestic abuse can apply for compensation for physical or mental injury. Emotional abuse can also be claimed for but can be a more challenging claim if not supported by the right evidence. Get in touch to find out if you are eligible to make a claim.

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