Over 100k deaths from COVID. Will we ever know the true impact of lockdown?
How many people will have been victims of Domestic Abuse as a result of the pandemic.
There has been a lot in the press in order to draw attention to the fact victims of domestic abuse are at a far greater risk of harm as a result of lockdown.
The most recent campaign ‘there is no excuse for abuse’ highlights to victims that there is support out there. There is also the ask for ANI initiative where victims can attend premises such as supermarkets and chemists displaying the poster to ask for help by simply asking for ANI which stands for ‘Action Needed Immediately’.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse occurs when one person emotionally or physically harms another person with whom they have a relationship with.
Domestic abuse is behaviour from a family member, partner or ex-partner that:
- is controlling, coercive, threatening, violent or abusive
- happens between people aged over 16
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to men or women. It includes the following types of abuse:
The Legal Position
These are some of the legal options you have:
- The criminal law is primarily aimed at punishing the offender for the crimes committed against the victim. These can include the same offences of those in respect of violence as if a stranger committed them against you. Such as Assault ABH, Common Assault and there is a criminal offence of Controlling behaviour.
- The civil law is primarily aimed at protection and this is where we can help you. You can make an application for an injunction (a court order) to the Family Court. You can also consider other family proceedings such as child contact or divorce. As a victim of Domestic Abuse if you can provide proof from certain agencies you will be eligible for legal aid and we can assist you with this.
The Domestic Abuse Bill 2019-2020
The Domestic Abuse Bill has already been passed in the House of Commons and is currently being considered by the House of Lords and is at the committee stage, with the next sitting scheduled to take place on the 8th February 2021. Hopefully, we will not have to wait too much longer until the Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes Law. However, there have already been considerable delays to its passing as a result of the pandemic.
The Bill creates Britain’s first ever “statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic,”
That a wider range of behaviour such as “financial abuse” which includes behaviour like controlling the family income entirely, limiting access to utilities, and property damage has been recognised as domestic abuse. Meanwhile “tech abuse”, like using modern technology to track and spy on a partner or ex-partner, has also gained recognition.
Victoria Atkins MP, Minister for Safeguarding has said the aim of the Bill is to:
‘Raise awareness and understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families.
Further improve the effectiveness of the justice system in providing protection for victims of domestic abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice.
Strengthen the support for victims of abuse by statutory agencies.
Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime perpetrated on victims and their families by those who should love and care for them. This landmark Bill will help transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure they have the support they need.’
If you have been a victim of Domestic Abuse.
We can help you get legal protection. We can ask the court to:
- stop your partner harming or threatening you – this is called a ‘non-molestation order’
- get your partner to leave your home or stop them coming back – this is called an ‘occupation order’
A Non-Molestation Order protects a person and their child/ren from being harmed or threatened by an abuser, or an Occupation Order which decides who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area – meaning someone can be removed from the home. The person named in the injunction can be arrested if they break it.
An Occupation Order sets out who has the right to stay at the family home, who can return and who should be excluded. An order does not change the financial ownership of a property. This is normally a short-term arrangement and its duration will depend on your needs. Usually it will last for six or twelve months. In some circumstances an Order can also be renewed. Orders can only be made in relation to a property where you both live, have lived or you intend to live in.
Whilst the current pandemic is having an impact on how the courts operate. The Family Courts most recent guidance recommends that court hearings are done remotely by phone or video link. We have the facilities to arrange this and can assure our client’s that despite currently be closed to the public we are still very much available and able to assist you in these very difficult times.
We offer assistance both privately and on a legal aid basis and can discuss the options available to you. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, please get in touch. Our experienced team are friendly and approachable and are here to help guide you through the process and help get you back to a life free of domestic abuse.
Useful Information can be found by clicking on the following link: