Discussing Domestic Violence and Coronavirus
by Sabrina Begum, Litigation Paralegal
Since the outbreak of the novel virus, the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a tragic 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the infancy of the lockdown.
Domestic abuse can consist of the following, however, this is not an exhaustive list:
· Physical abuse
· Emotional and psychological violence
· Financial abuse
· Coercive control
Domestic abuse is a serious issue that affects many families. Evidently, the impact of self-isolation whilst in an abusive relationship has the potential to intensify a dangerous situation. A home is supposed to be a safe haven. For many this is not the case. Victims, who are isolated, are left with their perpetrators and unable to access their usual means of support.
Government guidelines state that individuals should not leave their house unless it is for an essential reason. However, Section 6 (2)(m) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 makes provision for people to leave their homes in order to avoid injury, illness, or to escape the risk of harm. This provision makes an exception for those at risk of domestic abuse as they can leave their homes to escape such a dangerous situation.
Charities are frequently advising that victims should ensure they have a close contact, such as a family member or even a close friend. They can stay with or contact this person if matters escalate and they need to leave their homes immediately.
Alternatively, there are a variety of options available to victims of domestic abuse. Court Orders being one of them. People who are experiencing domestic abuse can contact us to discuss the possible options available to them.
The 2 main remedies are a Non – Molestation Order and an Occupation Order. This gives victims the ability to access the courts and a means of escaping their abuser, despite restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A non-molestation order protects anyone who suffers from violence, threats of violence, intimidation, harassment, or pestering. In order to apply for a non- molestation order there is not a specific category that you need to fall into. Generally, non- molestation orders are made for a period of 6-12 months, but these orders can be extended. A breach of the order can lead to a criminal offence and gives the police the power to arrest the respondent.
Alternatively, an occupation order regulates the occupation of the home. It can exclude the abuser from living in the home or prevent access in certain areas of the home. As aforementioned, it covers a wide range of reasons for which a person can apply.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse or have any concerns about someone who is, give us a call on 01234 350 244 and we will be happy to assist you.