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Coronavirus and Domestic Abuse - The Risk in Isolation

View profile for Claire Eastwood
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What if my home isn’t a place of safety? The latest government guidance is a required measure to fight the virus for many, but for some the danger isn’t just outside, it is also in their homes. The Office for National Statistics reported that 1.6 million women and 786,000 men were the victims of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2019. This figure is expected to rise as COVID-19 continues to take its toll.

Domestic abuse is not always physical. Abuse can be psychological, emotional, financial or sexual.  Isolation is a tool already used by many abusers. Therefore, it is expected that there will be a surge in reports of domestic violence as mass-isolation, furlough and redundancies cause abusers to remain at home.

Reports from China and America show that there has been a significant spike in domestic violence. The Guardian reported that a domestic violence hotline in Oregon experienced doubled calls in the last week. The UK has yet to release any data specifically in relation to domestic violence, but it is assumed that the UK’s figures will follow this trend.

Measures are being put in place to assist those suffering from domestic violence. Many police forces are now asking postal workers and delivery drivers to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.

The government issued guidance on 23 March 2020 stating that the providers of safe accommodation and refuge for victims of domestic abusers and affected children do not need to close at this stage and will not need to close unless directed to do so by Public Health England or the government.  

Legal measures to combat domestic abuse remain in place. Applications for Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders are being accepted by the Courts. A Non-Molestation Order aims to prevent the domestic abuse by preventing direct contact and contact through other parties. In a time when many people are communicating through social media, it is important that harassment through a third party is prevented.  An Occupation Order can direct an abuser to leave the family home.

Depending on the circumstances, and in situations where there is a real and imminent risk to the victim, there is the option to make an application on an urgent basis and without notice to the other party.

Once an order is obtained, we will arrange for this to be served on the respondent and on your local police station. Breach of a Non-Molestation Order is a criminal offence and can be punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Legal Aid is available for protective injunctions and certificates are granted on a means tested basis as such you would need to be able to provide information regarding your finances.. Here at Crombie Wilkinson, we can make your application for Legal Aid and support you through the process of application for a protective injunction.

Who else can help?

  • If you feel that you, your children or someone else you know is in immediate danger, please dial 999 as you usually would. The ‘Silent Solutions’ programme may assist those who are in danger but are also isolated with their abuser.

When someone rings 999 an operator will answer and ask which service is required. If the caller does not audibly signal the operator the call will be forwarded to an operating system, if the caller then presses 55 the system will detect this and transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency.

Other agencies/resources:

  • If you are concerned about yourself, a family member, friend, colleague, neighbour you can ring the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse on 0808 2000 247.
  • Womens Aid provides several resources. Their live chat is currently available Monday to Friday 10am-12pm and their E-mail service continues to provide support to victims.
  • The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. You can contact them on 0808 8010327.
  • Bright Sky is a mobile app designed to provide support and information to those in an abusive relationship. It has a ‘My Journal’ feature, helping victims to log incidents of abuse via text, audio, videos of photo without this content being saved to the device itself. 

If you would like to speak to a member of our Family team in any of our offices, please ring 01904 624 185. Please let us know if it is safe for us to ring you and/or leave voicemail.