Domestic Violence is unfortunately still among the societal issues we face in Jamaica. It occurs in various forms and may look different based on circumstances. Often times, people fail to recognize that they are themselves victims of domestic violence and more so what steps to take if they find themselves in this unfortunate situation.


The Jamaica Constabulary force recognizes that victims are sometimes confused as to the various ways in which to protect themselves in addition to reporting cases of domestic violence by calling 119 or by visiting the nearest police station. Victims are also encouraged to protect themselves and loved ones by seeking assistance from the court.

Under the Domestic Violence Act, victims of domestic violence can apply for two orders from the court: a protection order or an occupation order. The protection order restricts a person’s contact with any victim and an occupation order which gives someone the right to occupy a home and use household items.

A Protection Order is an order made by the Court to prohibit an abuser from entering or staying in the home, workplace, place of education or any particular place that could affect a victim. A Protection Order can also prevent an abuser from bothering a victim or a person he/she lives with where the abuser:

  1. Watches or torments the home, workplace or place of education.
  2. Follows or lay-waits a victim or others in any place.
  3. Makes persistent phone calls.
  4. Uses abusive language, harasses or causes ill-treatment.
  5. Damages property that a victim or members of their household own, use, have access to, or is located at their home.

An Occupation Order on the other hand gives you or any member of your household the right to live in a residence and to exclude the abuser from the premises.

This order is often made only in cases where the Court is convinced that it is either necessary for your protection or the protection of a member of your household; or that it would be in the best interests of the child involved.

Domestic violence laws have been reviewed to better protect Jamaican victims where people are reluctant to report such cases to authorities. As such, Perpetrators of domestic violence who breach protective orders from the court can now be fined up to $1 million and be sentenced for up to one year in prison. Protection orders also now include harassment and property damage,

The spouse or parent of a person being threatened, as well as social workers and children’s advocates if they’re filing an order on behalf of a child, can now request such orders.


  • An application for a protection order is made in the Family Court for the Corporate Area or the parish court in the victim’s area.
  • Upon visiting the court, the first point of contact will be with an intake counsellor who will complete an intake form that will outline the violence or the threats of violence. That form will then be passed to the clerk of court or the deputy clerk of court.
  • An application for the protection order form will be completed on behalf of the applicant so that the matter can be brought before a judge as soon as possible.
  • The applicant is usually given a summons with a court date for both parties to attend. However, if the circumstances are very serious, then the court may hear the application ex parte, which means the judge will hear the applicant alone and then grant an interim order which will state that the abuser is not to come within a certain distance of the victim. The order should be served on the abuser and becomes effective upon service.
  • If the interim order is granted, it is important not only to serve a copy of the order, but also notice of the court date, as a date will be set for a hearing of the application where both parties will appear, and the court will determine whether there needs to be a trial if the parties cannot consent to the terms of the interim order. If the matter goes to a hearing and the court accepts the evidence of the victim, then the court will determine the specific orders to impose on the abuser.

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