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Coronavirus and Domestic Abuse

The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 49% increase in calls for help since the lockdown, compared with average, and on 14th April the Government issued guidance and support for victims of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is the name for many different forms of behaviour; it can affect anyone, regardless of gender or background, and it can have a big impact on their mental health, self-confidence and physical wellbeing. It can be overlooked or denied, especially if the abuse is psychological rather than physical. That is why it can be difficult for people who are being abused to recognise the signs and understand the legal protection that exists.

Domestic abuse is more common than you may think. One in four women and one in six men suffer from domestic abuse in their lifetime. For every three victims of domestic abuse, two will be female and one male. If you have suffered domestic abuse then you have every right to take steps to protect yourself from it happening again. Abusers often rely on the fact that abuse often goes unreported or is only reported at a later stage.

You may be concerned about how to deal with the abuse and with your relationship. Also, you may not know what options are out there for you. Talking to one of our specialist domestic abuse solicitors might sound like a big step but it may be the best way to really understand your situation and what you can do about it.

Many people do not realise that there are two sorts of law in the UK: criminal law and civil law. Domestic violence can fall into one or both categories.

  • Criminal law applies where a person is charged with a criminal offence such as assault or harassment.
  • Civil law applies to many different areas of law where a person may want to assert his or her legal rights: such as rights under family law, housing law or immigration law;

A criminal court can sentence your abuser to various punishments such as a fine or imprisonment. A civil court can grant you civil rights such as a child arrangements order, an injunction or a prohibited steps order. Also you can be protected by a non-molestation order (also known as an injunction) or occupation order.  This is where Eric Robinson Solicitors can help you obtain injunctions, which forbid your abuser from certain forms of behaviour towards you, or occupation orders, where the Court can determine who can and cannot occupy a property regardless of ownership.

During the coronavirus lockdown, the government has acknowledged that the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse. The household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse. Friends, family and neighbours can be a vital lifeline to those living with domestic abuse.

If you feel you are at immediate risk of harm, you need to dial 999 and ask for the Police. The Police continue to respond to emergency calls. The new guidance provides that if you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone then you should dial 999, listen to the questions and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. Then follow the instructions. You are not alone.

If you are worried that someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, reassure them that the police and support services are still there to help and direct them to sources of support.

The family team at Eric Robinson are here for you and can help you through this tough time.