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The Effects Of The Relationship During Lockdown

Authors: Shanni Sandhu & Saima Bibi

There are some 2.4 million victims of domestic abuse a year, who are aged 16 to 74 and more than one in ten of crimes recorded by the police are domestic abuse related. Research has shown during the challenging coronavirus crisis, domestic abuse has dramatically increased and the first national lockdown has effectively trapped male and female victims suffering in the hands of their abusers. According to articles published by the BBC, there has been a record of over 259,324 domestic abuse offences which occurred between March and June 2020 (the time where the country faced its toughest restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic). Also, charities and organisations who deal with men suffering from domestic abuse have seen a huge number of referrals.

A charity namely “The Respect Men’s Advice Line” received 13,812 calls and emails between April and July 2020, however it is sad to note that due to social prejudice and concerns of embarrassment and shame, men often find it difficult to seek help and therefore suffer in silence. Another charity, namely “Mankind Initiative” have received calls from men who on average have been in an abusive relationship for a period of three years before reaching out for help and support. They state that “Women are very much taught that domestic abuse is something that happens to women and therefore they need to be on their guard.. men aren’t really taught or brought up in the same way.” Thanks to various charities and organisations, they have encouraged men to seek help due to experiencing negative thoughts of self-harming as a result of suffering from years of psychological abuse, including gaslighting, coercive control and financial abuse.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It has been defined across Government as “Any incident 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 their gender or sexuality.”

Who are Victims of Domestic Abuse?

Anyone can be a victim of Domestic abuse by a partner, ex-partner, spouse and/or family members, including “mother,” “father,” “son,” “daughter,” “brother,” “sister” and “grandparents” whether directly related, in-laws or stepfamily. However, this is not an exhaustive list and may also be extended to “uncles,” “aunts” and “cousins… .”

What are the Types of Abuse?

Domestic abuse covers various categories, including, but not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. Domestic abuse can be prosecuted under a spectrum of offences and the term is used to describe a range of con-trolling and coercive behaviours, used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship. It is rarely a one-off incident and is the cumulative and interlinked types of abuse that has a particularly damaging effect on the victim.

The Legal Support

Pursuant to Part IV of the Family Law Act 1996, you can apply for a Non-Molestation Order and/or Occupation Order. In cases where there is a genuine risk of harm or violence on you, the court may make precautionary Orders without notice to the perpetrator.

A Non-Molestation Order is an injunction protecting you or your child from being harmed or threatened by the perpetrator. Certain conditions can be put in place for your safety which includes the perpetrator from using or threatening violence, intimidating, communicating, harassing, or pestering with you directly or via a third party. The Order could also prohibit the perpetrator from going within a certain radius of your home address or workplace. Breaching any parts of the Order is a criminal offence and could led to the perpetrator being prosecuted through the criminal courts.

During the week commencing 11 May 2020, it saw the highest weekly numbers of victims submitting applications for Non-Molestation Orders which coincided with the week that the first lockdown measures began to ease.

An Occupational Order is when the court decides who has the right to stay at the family home, who can return and who should be excluded. Such Orders usually last 6 to 12 months, however, can be renewed if necessary.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we recognise that it can be difficult for victims to access help and support, and hence if you require further advice or assistance, do not hesitate to contact the Family Department at Noble Solicitors on 01582 544370.

Making the initial phone call is a difficult step, and despite that you may be anxious of who is at the end of the phone, you will get the necessary advice and/or help you need to consider the next appropriate action to escape a toxic relationship.

In an emergency situation, including where you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999 should be your first port of call. Once you have spoken to the police, consider seeking urgent legal advice for urgent Non-Molestation Orders and/or Occupations Order.

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