We are now over a year into the Coronavirus pandemic and we have, to date, seen 3 national lockdowns as well as other measures being put in place that have restricted some of our usual liberties which have confined us to our homes for significant chunks of time without access to our usual support networks of family and friends.

It has been a difficult time for everyone, but none more so than for those people living with an abusive partner and the resulting heightened distress they have and are experiencing.

There has been a surge in phone calls to domestic violence charities since the start of the pandemic.  According to Women’s Aid, two-thirds of women reported that domestic violence worsened in the first lockdown due to the increased isolation and lack of support.  The Office of National Statistics reported a 9% increase in domestic violent crimes last year compared to the previous year.

Despite the Government guidance allowing domestic abuse victims to move home if fleeing an abusive partner, many are finding this increasingly difficult, particularly if their partner is watching their every move whilst being at home.

Domestic abuse comes in many forms. Some are more obvious than others. They include:

  1. Physical abuse – including hitting, punching, choking, pinching, hurting family members or pets, smashing property, threatening use of weapons, making intimidating gestures.
  2. Emotional and psychological abuse – including name-calling, put-downs, humiliation, manipulation, gaslighting and causing sleep deprivation.
  3. Economic abuse – preventing you getting a job, making you ask for money, controlling the purse strings, providing you ‘an allowance’, withholding child support, making you account for every pound of expenditure.
  4. Male privilege – asserting a master and servant relationship, excluding you from financial decisions, declaring a strong definition of roles within the house, ‘master of the house’ way of thinking, high cooking and cleaning expectations/demands.
  5. Sexual abuse – including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and pressure and being tricked into unsafe sex.
  6. Coercive control – including control of who you see and speak to, encouraging isolation, limiting your involvement with outside world, not allowing you to better yourself e.g. education or getting a job, forcing you to stay at home with the children, setting deadlines of when you need to be back at the house.
  7. Technological abuse – including stalking you, trolling you online, revenge porn, monitoring your phone, hacking into your accounts, tracking and CCTV devices.
  8. Cultural specific violence – includes forced marriages and honour related violence.

With one in four people reported to suffer domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, it is important to recognise the signs personally and for people you know in order to seek help.

Where can someone turn for help if they need it?

In the first instance, you should contact the police and domestic abuse charities as your first point of call.

Domestic abuse is one of the few areas where legal aid remains available in family law.  This allows domestic abuse victims to seek free legal assistance and obtain injunction orders including non-molestation orders and occupation orders against a current or former abusive.

Eligibility for legal aid is means-tested but if you do not qualify our specialist family solicitors can assist with advice, drafting applications and representing you at Court hearings.

For a free initial telephone consultation with Suzanne or Elizabeth call Andover 01264 400500.

 

 

Our contributor

Elizabeth Hughes

Solicitor

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