Getting The Right Help For Domestic Violence sees us talk to Sarah Scriven solicitor. The current situation we are facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented. We can leave our homes for basic necessities, exercise, any medical need and travelling for work purposes where you cannot work from home.
There have so been many messages in the media claiming: “you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home”, to encourage people to comply with the lock down. Sadly, home is not a safe haven for everyone. Victims of domestic abuse may find themselves feeling at risk, scared and more vulnerable than ever before.
Domestic abuse is on the rise
Domestic violence experts have warned that abusers and their victims having to isolate at home together may lead to an increase in abuse and violence. In addition, work and school can often provide a safe refuge from violence and abuse in the home. This is no longer an escape for many. Abusers may also use the lock down to further restrict their victim’s freedom and safety. Getting The Right Help For Domestic Violence saves you too.
Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, reported a 25% increase in phone calls received two weeks into the lock down. Following media coverage of this, calls and contacts logged by Refuge the following day were up by 120%. These figures sadly confirm that domestic abuse is on the rise during lock down.
What to do if you are not safe at home during lock down
If you are not safe at home, support services can help you consider your safety options. They can also provide you with emotional support. All national helplines are free to call and can provide an interpreter service if English is not your first language.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, is open 24 hours a day. Contact them on 0808 2000 247. Refuge have some helpful and practical safety tips on their website for coping with domestic violence whilst in lock down.
Whilst this can provide some support, if you or someone else in your home is at immediate risk of harm, you should call 999. It is for this reason you should try to keep your mobile phone charged and on you at all times. If it is not safe to speak or make a noise to let the operator know you are there. You can use the ‘silent solution’ system. This is available when calling from a mobile phone. To do this, you must dial 55 once the call has connected and the operator will be notified. The operator will transfer to the police.
Getting The Right Help For Domestic Violence is important.
If you do not feel that you can make a telephone call, there are services that assist by way of an online chat. An example is on the Women’s Aid website. Male victims can find a similar facility on the Men’s Advice Line website.
It is also still possible to book an appointment with your GP. Most will now carry these out over telephone or video link. GP’s have been sent guidance on how to support you if you are experiencing domestic abuse. If it is not safe for you to telephone the police or a support service, you can ask your GP or nurse to do this for you.
How the Family Court can help
If you feel the police cannot give you with adequate or ongoing protection, or you would prefer not to involve them, ask the Family Court to make injunction orders. This is to protect you and your children from domestic violence. The Family Court is still open throughout the pandemic. Most hearings are being carried out by phone or video conferencing.
There are two types of injunctions the Family Court can make. The first is a ‘non-molestation’ order. This is used to prevent a person from intimidating, threatening, harassing, or pestering you. It can also be used to protect children.
The types of behaviour considered ‘relevant’ for a non-molestation order are wide and in this way can cover as many abusive behaviours as possible. A ‘power of arrest’ is automatically attached to a non-molestation order. So if a person who breaks the order, they will automatically be arrested by the police. It is important that a copy of the non-molestation order is given to the local police station as soon as it is made. This way they are aware of its existence.
The second type of order is an ‘occupation order’. This type of order is used to regulate the occupation of the family home. In other words, it can be used to determine who should live in it. And/or whether the other person should be excluded from it. A person can also be banned from going within a certain distance of the home.
In certain circumstances, non-molestation and occupation orders can be made on an interim basis. This can be done without notice being given to the abuser. This is vital in some cases as victims may not otherwise seek help and protection. Getting The Right Help For Domestic Violence is key for you.
What to do if you are unsure
If you are unsure which legal steps to take, always seek the help of a professional. Make sure you choose a respected lawyer who understands and has experience advising on domestic abuse. And you reach the safest outcome for all involved. Getting The Right Help For Domestic Violence.
Sarah Scriven is a lawyer at Blaser Mills Law
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