Its been 4 weeks of lockdown, 4 weeks of walking on egg shells trying to manage the household so things remain calm. You cant allow voices to become raised, the children will hear and you have to protect them. But you’re not quite sure how much more you can take. You just want to break down and cry but you need to remain strong. The children cant see you weak.
This may be the first time you have experienced behaviour at home which frightens or concerns you. It doesn’t have to be violent behaviour to be abusive. It can be coercive, controlling, harassment, in fact any unwanted unreasonable behaviour, an act or pattern of acts that can include threats, intimidation or other abuse all designed, whether intentional or not, to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour . We are living in challenging times, forced to isolate in our own homes in circumstances you have never had to experience before testing relationships in unimaginable ways.
Like coronavirus, Domestic Violence doesn’t prejudice anyone. It can impact upon any age, gender, race, sexual orientation, rich or poor. Whilst statistics may suggest certain groups are more at risk than others, there are no statistics out there to cover our current predicament, as we repeatedly hear we are living in unprecedented times.
You want help but you’re not sure where you can turn or too frightened of the consequences if you do. You’re not even sure if there is anything you can do. Whilst we are living in unique circumstances unfortunately Domestic violence is not. According to government figures, an estimated 1.6 million women and 786,000 men in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse last year, which is a staggering figure and in fact calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline are up more than 25% and hits on its website are up by 150%. You are not alone! Please be rest assured there is help out there for you. There is a Zero Tolerance Policy for Domestic abuse and there are a number of ways in which you can seek help depending upon your circumstances and how you wish to address your problems.
Who Can I contact for help?
We have created a list of support services highlighting agencies both on a local and national basis with their respective contact details. However, If you feel that your safety, or the safety of your children is at risk, the first port of call will always be to contact the police. They will be able to advise and support you and even signpost you to additional support services in the event of them being unable to assist.
If you are in immediate danger, dial 999 and ask for the police. If, when you call, you are unable to talk on the phone then call 999 then press 55. This will redirect your call to the relevant police force who will assist without you needing to speak should you feel in danger.
How can the law protect me?
There are many legal avenues available to you. This may be by way of the police or lawyers or the family courts. Domestic abuse whether this be violence, controlling or coercive behaviour is a criminal offence and a perpetrator can be arrested, charged and convicted. There are a number of criminal sanctions / protective remedies which are available through the police such as:-
1. Criminal Charges such as Assault, Controlling and Coercive behaviour, harassment even Public Order offences can all form part of Domestic Abuse which can result in Criminal Charges, protective bail conditions and subsequent criminal proceedings.
2. Domestic Violence Protection Orders – if you have been the victim of a violent assault or been threatened violence the police can apply to court for a Prohibitive Order to stop further acts of violence or such threats for a maximum of 28 days. These order are used as a cooling off period to allow victims to decide whether or not they wish to seek more long term protective orders or for Perpetrators to realise the severity and consequences of their behaviour.
3. Stalking Protection Orders – These are relatively new hybrid orders where the threshold to commence criminal proceedings does not need to be met allowing early Police intervention in cases were there is no violence but a victim needs protection and is specifically there as part of the local adult / child safeguarding and public protection procedures.
What if I don’t want to involve the police?
There are many reasons why people do not want to contact the police. A lot of people worry about the impact this may have upon the children or even the perpetrators job. However there are still remedies available to you through the Family Court.
An application can be made for a non-molestation order (“NMO”) to prevent a partner or former partner from harming you or your children whether this be physically, emotionally or mentally. If an NMO is breached, the perpetrator and be arrested with a risk of imprisonment for up to five years.
You can also apply for an Occupation order which sets out who can live in the family home and whether an abusive party needs to leave so as to secure a safe environment for you and your children.
What if I cant afford Legal Advice?
Legal Aid is available for those who qualify. For full details check out our page dedicated to this subject including a link to the governments online eligibility calculator. If you are eligible for legal aid then you may not incur any legal fees.
However even if you are not eligible for legal aid don’t let this be the obstacle to you seeking some advice. We can help signpost you to appropriate agencies who can help and to make sure you seek the support you need.
How to help
- Educate yourself on how to recognise abuse (in yourself and others)
- Learn how to help someone who is experiencing domestic abuse
- If you are worried about a friend or family member – check in with them with a telephone call, text message or video call where possible. They may not be ready to talk, but it could make a difference for them to know that there is someone ready to listen and to help.
The Twitter hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic originally started trending in China and now spread globally. Check this out, social media can really help, not only by making you feel you are not alone in these situations but also by spreading awareness and sharing online resources, useful helplines and links.
Please don’t feel you cant reach out for help. We are here to help and support you. You can contact us discreetly and confidentially as follows:-
- Mobile number – 07923206416. Call us , text us or even Whatsapp it doesn’t matter how you make contact we are here at the other end of that phone.
- Email – Info@174familylaw.co.uk
If you don’t want to call us but would like a friend to do so for you then that’s fine also. We can even send you a link so you can provide us with your full instructions without even having to speak to us. You don’t need to leave your home to feel safe!