What COVID-19 means for victims of domestic abuse

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It is important to us that people know that we are here to help during these unprecedented times. We recognise that both men and women suffer from domestic abuse, and that it’s not limited to intimate partner relationships.

In the first instance, you should always call the police if you feel you are in immediate danger. The police are still responding to 999 calls whilst the country is in lockdown. The ‘Silent Solutions system’ allows you to dial 999 and then press 55 if you are in a situation where you cannot speak. This will alert the relevant police force that you require their assistance on an emergency basis.

Further support can be accessed by contacting:

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline – Freephone telephone number: 0808 2000 247. The website also includes a form that can be completed to request a callback at a more convenient time.

Women’s Aid – The website has a Covid-19 ‘Resource hub’, live chat forum, and the green “exit site” button at the side of the screen allows you to quickly hide your screen. Guidance has been produced on using a private browser and deleting your internet history to hide that you have sought advice.

Men’s Advice Line – Freephone telephone number: 0808 801 0327

Galop (for members of the LGBT+ community) – Freephone telephone number: 0800 999 5428, or you can email help@galop.org.uk

The above contact information is also provided here.

Calls are mounting for the government to provide an emergency fund to local authorities to ensure that victims are adequately housed. We hope that this will materialise. In any event, further protection may prove necessary, and we remain open to help and advise victims of domestic abuse during this period. Please see the ‘How we can help’ section below for further information.

Definitions

Domestic abuse encompasses the following:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional”

Coercive controlling behaviour is a criminal offence under S.76 Serious Crime Act, and is defined as “repeated or continuous behaviour towards another person that is controlling or coercive”.

We can assist with protective injunctions under Family Law where the offending party is an “associated person”. Associated persons are defined as the following:

  • they are or have been married to each other;
  • they are or have been civil partners of each other;
  • they are cohabitants or former cohabitants;
  • they live or have lived in the same household, otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other’s employee, tenant, lodger or boarder;
  • they are relatives;
  • they have agreed to marry one another (whether or not that agreement has been terminated);
  • they have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other which is or was of significant duration;
  • they have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not that agreement has been terminated);
  • in relation to any child, they are both persons who are parents of the child or who have parental responsibility for the child; or
  • they are parties to the same family proceedings

Relatives” encompass the following persons:

  • father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, grandmother, grandfather, grandson or granddaughter of that person or of that person’s spouse, former spouse, civil partner or former civil partner; or
  • the brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or first cousin(whether of the full blood or of the half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) of that person or of that person’s spouse, former spouse, civil partner or former civil partner.

How we can help you

Depending on your situation, we may be able to help you obtain an injunction Order. There are two types of injunction: Non-Molestation Orders or Occupation Orders.

A Non-Molestation Order will prohibit the perpetrator from engaging in harassing or threatening behaviour towards the victim.

An Occupation Order has the power to exclude a perpetrator from their own home and enforce the victim’s right to remain, even if the victim does not own or rent the property.

For both types of injunctions, the Court can make an initial order without notice being given to the perpetrator. This helps if there are concerns that there may be an adverse reaction to the application.

Non-Molestation Orders confer an immediate power of arrest which means that if they are breached, the police can take immediate action. A power of arrest may be attached to an Occupation Order.

We want to reassure you that hearings are still being conducted remotely by telephone, which means that we can still act for you.

If you feel you are in immediate danger and are able to call the police, please do so.