The concerning rise in domestic violence due to COVID-19April 20th 2020
Amy Fallows Associate Solicitor in our family law team provides some advice to those who find themselves in this situation.
Recent statistics show that reports of domestic violence and killings have doubled since the COVID-19 lockdown, this is the highest it has been in the last 11 years and is of great concern.
Even for healthy relationships, the lockdown poses a challenge. For those relationships that are already toxic, or are in the process of breaking down, the lockdown may be both catastrophic and potentially dangerous.
What amounts to Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is not just violence between household members but encompasses any controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour. Witnessing domestic abuse (in any form) is significantly harmful to children.
Relationships might not start out abusive, although some do. Other relationships become abusive at the point of breakdown.
What is the effect of COVID-19 lockdown?
The current lockdown means that partners who are bad for each other are now stuck with each other in close proximity. Many of the issues which aggravate domestic abuse are intensified in lockdown. Partners can’t easily distance themselves from any conflict or easily access help from friends or family.There is a temptation to abuse alcohol if no one is working or needs to drive.
Some advice if you are stuck in an abusive relationship:
- Recognise the abuse for what it is – speak to a trusted friend or family member about your concerns. Be honest with them about what has gone on. It is most likely that they are already worried about you. Ask your friend or family to help you with an exit plan.
- Contact an organisation who support people going through abuse – the Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, is 0808 200 0247. Locally you can contact Cumbria Police here and Cumbria County Council here.
- Report any incident of violence, any threat of violence or any pattern of controlling or coercive behaviour to the police. The police have the ability to arrest the abuser and impose bail conditions meaning the abuser can’t return or come near you even during lockdown.
- Seek legal advice by telephone or email.. Lawyers can offer a number of levels of protection. Occupation orders and non-molestation orders can be obtained within 24 to 72 hours. These are orders which exclude a perpetrator from a home and prevent return.
- Even if the abuser hasn’t been violent but the atmosphere is simply toxic, it is possible to obtain orders excluding abusers from homes, especially when children are present and witnessing the arguments. Sometimes a letter from your solicitor asking one party to leave is enough to encourage the other person to go.
We appreciate these are stressful and worrying times for some more than others, please do pick up the phone and talk to someone … a friend, a family member or a colleague. You are not alone and there is support out there to help you. If you would prefer to talk to someone anonymously you can call Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 200 0247 or you can visit http://womansaid.co.uk/
Our experienced family team are always here to help if you need them and can deal with matters in a confidential and sensitive manner. Please call 01228 516666 or click here to send an email.