Legal News | 17.06.20
Fortnightly updates from the Family team to stay connected – part 3
Coronavirus: Supporting those at risk of domestic abuse during lockdown.
We understand that it can often be very difficult to speak out against domestic abuse and that the current constraints, placing the country in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, has made it even more difficult to seek essential help and support.
We are acutely aware that the risk of domestic abuse has risen since we have been directed to stay at home. However, the government have been clear that household isolation instructions will not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse. The government have also pledged to set funds aside for local authorities to support people suffering domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is never acceptable and we have outlined below what steps you should take to protect yourself during these challenging times:
If you or your children are in immediate danger, you should dial 999 and ask for the police. If you are unable to speak on the call you should dial ‘55’ when using a mobile phone to ‘make yourself heard’ to the police.
What is domestic abuse?
It is important to remember that domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence. Abuse can also be psychological, emotional, financial or controlling.
If you are isolating with a perpetrator, it may be difficult to seek help. You may be able to ask friends, family or a neighbour to seek help for you. You may also leave your home to access help. It might be possible to incorporate this into ‘daily exercise’ or a trip to the shops.
You can access support in a number of ways and here are a few suggestions:
- Contact your local authority who can refer you to local refuges and support services such as SPLITZ (Wiltshire Services – 01225 775 276).
- Contacting a support service such as SPLITZ, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247) or Women’s Aid (https://www.womensaid.org.uk), for support and advice.
- Contacting a family solicitor who can advise you what legal measures can be taken to protect you and any children.
The Family Court remains open although is facilitating the majority of hearings via telephone or video call. There are two types of injunction which the Family Court can make to protect you against domestic abuse:
These orders prohibit abusive behaviours which physically harm, threaten, harass, intimidate or distress another person(s). In certain circumstances, non-molestation orders can be applied for without giving the perpetrator notice that the order has been applied for. This means protection can be granted very quickly. It is a criminal offence to breach a non-molestation order, punishable by fine or imprisonment. If a non-molestation order is breached, you should inform the police immediately.
If you are residing with a perpetrator and the relevant legal requirements are met, an occupation order can exclude that individual from the property or require them to keep a certain distance away from the property. It is also possible to regulate their occupation of the property i.e.to exclude them from certain parts of the home.
Legal Aid is available for protective injunctions subject to an individual means test.
If you need assistance to protect yourself or your children or would like more information, please contact the Family Team at Wansbroughs Solicitors on 01225 896100 or at email@example.com. While our offices are currently closed, we are continuing to work via telephone and email. We offer a free half hour appointment for all new enquiries. If you are unable to contact us yourself due to safety concerns, please ask a friend or family member to get in touch with us.