Where Can Domestic Violence Victims Turn During COVID-19?
The reach of the COVID-19 health crisis is global, impacting businesses and placing enormous strain on governments everywhere.
The outbreak is also placing enormous strain on families worldwide. And with pressures mounting as a result of concerns about job insecurity and financial instability, combined with the fact that the Government has advised us all to stay at home and self-isolate, we have unfortunately seen a sharp rise in the number of domestic abuse cases in the UK.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse refers to a wide range of behaviours, which can include physical abuse, emotional abuse and gaslighting, sexual abuse, financial abuse, harassment, and coercive control. Usually these behaviours are carried out by one person in a relationship and are implemented in order to intimidate and manipulate the other partner.
With social restrictions currently put into place due to the coronavirus outbreak, victims of domestic abuse are put at greater risk of danger, as they are currently facing lockdown with their aggressor and may be worried about how they can reach out for help during this difficult time.
What can I do?
1) Call 999 if you are imminent danger, and key in 55 if you are unable to speak. The police have a system in place which will enable them to get help out to you if you are in a dangerous situation. Police action could lead to arrest, bail conditions, orders and, ultimately, prison.
2) Seek the advice of a family solicitor. Nicola Barrow of DRN Solicitors is extremely experienced in this field and is associated with a charity that deals with domestic violence.
The courts are still open and URGENT applications can be made for NON MOLESTATION ORDERS and OCCUPATION ORDERS.
A Non Molestation order is an order that prohibits the abusive partner from using or threatening violence, harassment or intimidation, or instructing anyone else to do so. It can prevent the abuser from contacting you directly or indirectly, and it can also include provisions which prevent the abuser from being allowed to visit your home or place of work. The orders can also be put into place to protect children. Breach of the order is a criminal offence and can result in the abuser being committed to prison.
An Occupation Order gives you rights of occupation and allows the court to make an order requiring that the abusive partner allows you to live in the property if they have previously evicted you. It could also provide for the abusive partner to be made to leave the property and deny them the right to come back for a period of time. Breach of the order is a contempt of court and a power of arrest can be applied. This would mean the police could arrest and bring the abusive partner before a judge sitting in the Family Court.
I’m in a dangerous situation and worried about my child. What should I do?
It is also important to recognise the impact of domestic abuse on any children in the property. Parents have a duty to act in the best interests of their child, and domestic abuse hugely affects children, whether as a result of them witnessing it, or because they are directly subjected to it. If you are worried about your current situation and the impact it is having on your child(ren), orders can also be sought for their protection, as well as your own.
Having worked with victims of abuse for several years, the team at DRN understand the difficult nature of such cases and can assure you that your case will be handled with compassion and sensitivity at all times. Our solicitors will be on hand to provide support, guidance and legal advice throughout the process, and are committed to prioritising the needs and wishes of clients, always seeking an outcome that is beneficial for you.
For more information, please contact Nicola Barrow, Head of our Family Department, on 01282 433241, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.