How we help with Domestic Abuse
This is a hard topic for any parent to write about, the statistics are so shocking that we are getting almost numb to them. The truth is 1 in 5 children have witnessed domestic abuse in the UK and of those 1 in 3 children go on to witness further forms of abuse. There are so many articles and stories it’s hard to begin.
I decided to share in this blog the facts and definitions and what the law says about the issues, in general most people in this situation want just that - PRACTICAL BUT CARING HELP. Sometimes victims will keep it all to themselves and “live with it” but the thought of it impacting the children can be the trigger to change things.
Showing the children how to be in a relationship
Facts prove that children learn how to be in a relationship with others from parents and if that relationship is bad they gain a negative perspective, It’s not just a saying “hurt people will hurt people”. Witnessing any type of abuse can distort what a healthy relationship looks like in a child or young teenagers eyes.
What is Domestic Violence/Abuse?
The government changed the term we use from Domestic Violence to Domestic Abuse in 2013 and added to physical violence other forms of abuse such as coercion and control and issues new guidelines and this set in motion a series of changes.
Official definition of Domestic Abuse
"Any incident or pattern of incidents 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 gender or sexuality. This abuse can encompass but is not limited to:
Controlling behaviour is:
a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behavior
Coercive behaviour is:
an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. *
*This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group."
In more detail if you need it here
So what has changed
This started domestic violence law reforms and led to the government making changes in the law which came into effect in December 2015. Many people are unaware of these new rights and the systems in place, since these reforms, but in summary:-
It also became a criminal offence (and people can be sent to prison) to use coercive control or psychological abuse on a person and offenders can now be prosecuted under the serious crime act 2015
What did these reforms do?
It created the realisation that domestic issues went above and beyond physical abuse alone. There were gaps in the existing law which denied victims the safeguards they needed for protection. These changes have an impact on what service I can provide to those reaching out to me in such situations.
So what am I able to do to help from a legal point of view ?
There are a series of things we can do to help, the initial consultation is always free of charge and I am able to outline a way to deal with the problems, sometimes in a highly emotionally charged situation, it’s good to have a chance to look at the options and to know there are people to listen. A person not related to or close to you can often see things in a different way. This is one of the reasons I am not only available between 8am and 8pm but I can also visit people needing help at home. Discretion is key and everything that we discuss is strictly confidential.
Protection and safety
There are a number of practical solutions under the Family Law Act. We can advise on what is possible, so that the options are clear.
Non molestation Order
This prevents a person attacking you or harassing you, and it carries a power of arrest meaning if the person breaches it they can be arrested. If children are involved, a clause in the Order can be inserted for their protection. This is something that can be put in place quite fast, within 24 hours.
These orders are to ensure a person is not permitted to return to the property. They are harder to obtain and care needs to be taken in such an application.
Other parts to the law to know about
Protection from Harassment Act 1977 was widened to include racially motivated attacks and unsociable behaviour and then in 2012 stalking was added.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders (CVPO) Can be issues by the police banning the abuser from the home for a period of time after an incident.
The Domestic Violence disclosure scheme (Claire’s Law)
This is the right to ask about a new or existing partner to find out if they have history of abuse. Claire’s law
How to help if you think someone you know is being subjected to abuse
Talk to them and help them. It’s a complex situation but reassurance and care can be vital to them. Let them talk and assure them it’s not them. There are so many resources I can point to for help and here are just a few. If children are involved, try and encourage them to think of helping them too. Our future generation need to be protected from this cycle of abuse.