Last year, more than 2 million adults were victim to domestic violence or abuse in the UK, and in the majority of cases, the abuse is experienced by women (1.3 million).
While the UK is under lockdown, this will be a terrifying time for those victims of domestic violence who may be forced to stay at home with their abusers. As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, self-isolation will have a greater impact on the vulnerable, including those who are experiencing domestic violence and want to escape an abusive relationship. Specifically, there is a higher risk that abusers will use long periods of isolation as a means to control their partners, as reports suggest that this has been the case in other countries; who have reported a surge of domestic abuse cases following a period of quarantine.
Domestic violence abuse includes all kinds of physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse between people who are, or were in a relationship with each other or are family members over the age of 16. It will usually follow an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening and violent behaviour.
If you are suffering from domestic violence or abuse you should report this to the police. You must always call the police if you are in immediate danger.
You are also able to apply to the court for an injunction to protect yourself from violence. These types of orders are called non-molestation and occupation orders. Many courts are still open, and as a result of Covid-19, injunctions applications will be heard remotely, so you will not need to attend court in person.
Those victims will be feeling more vulnerable than ever and they should bear in mind these tips to ensure their safety:
- In an emergency call 999 or 112 – the police are there to protect you.
- Keep a fully charged mobile phone at hand in case of emergencies and memorise the numbers of friends and family you can trust. It may also be worth having a code word to alert others of an emergency to identify that the police should be contacted.
- Have a bag packed with essential items you may need to take with you in a hurry, including clothes, cash, passport, a mobile phone charger, a list of important contact numbers and if possible, a spare mobile phone. Keep this in a private space in the house.
- Stay in contact as much as you can with friends and family and if appropriate ask them to check in with you either by telephone, text message, Whatsapp, Facetime or Skype.
- For additional support you can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline 24 hours on Freephone 0808 2000 247. Women’s Aid have an online live chat if you are unable to speak on the phone, or you can email them at email@example.com
- Seek legal advice as to what protective measures can be put in place, this would include obtaining an emergency injunction if appropriate.
Legal aid is available for victims of domestic violence. We do not carry out legal aid work at Alen-Buckley, and while you are not obligated to instruct a legal aid lawyer, we are happy to provide you will details of solicitors who are able to assist.