Domestic Violence and COVID-19 – What should you do?4th December 2020 3:34 pm Comments Off on Domestic Violence and COVID-19 – What should you do?
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It has been well-documented that, tragically, there has been a surge in reports of domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you, or someone close to you, is experiencing domestic violence, then you must seek urgent help. Our specialist family solicitors are experienced in helping clients to protect themselves and their families.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is 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. It covers many types of abuse, including psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional abuse. Men, women, and children can all be victims of domestic violence.
If you are in an emergency, dial 999 without delay.
If you are or you believe that someone close to you is in immediate danger, do not hesitate to telephone the police. You can dial “999” and then “55” to notify the call handler that there is an emergency without having to make any sound at all.
What if your abuser has been arrested?
It is important to seek support from a criminal solicitor or a domestic violence support worker. They can explain and support you through the criminal justice process.
The police may release your abuser “on bail”, which may or may not have conditions attached (for example, a condition not to contact you). If you are not sure whether any conditions are in place, ask the police or your domestic violence support worker to find out.
If the police have not attached bail conditions, or if you feel your abuser is unlikely to stick to any conditions imposed on him or her and he/she knows where you are, you may wish to flee to a safe place, such as a refuge.
How can we help you?
Our family solicitors will be available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via a domestic violence helpline throughout the festive period. During this enormously stressful time we can help make sense of the legal side things. Please call 07899 707 366 for an initial confidential discussion.
You do not have to wait for an emergency to seek help. Our specialist family solicitors can assist you using civil laws, which do not necessarily require police involvement. If you call us, you will speak to a solicitor who will take a detailed statement from you and assess the urgency of your situation. If appropriate, we will make an application for an emergency court hearing to take place either the same day or the following day.
There are two main types of civil orders (known as “injunctions”) that can help victims of domestic violence:
- Non-molestation orders can prevent your abuser from using or threatening violence, intimidating, harassing, or pestering you.
- Occupation orders can exclude your abuser from the home you share whilst sometimes requiring your abuser to continue to pay the rent or mortgage in relation to the property.
We can apply for both orders at the same time.
If your abuser breaks a non-molestation order, it is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison. Perhaps most importantly, however, you can call the police and he or she may be arrested.
If your abuser breaks an occupation order, this is not a criminal offence. However, you can request that the police arrest your abuser for ‘contempt of a court order’ and he or she will be brought before the civil court.
You should let the police know that a civil order is in place, as they may be able to ‘flag’ your property and respond more quickly if you call to report an incident. You can do this by dialling“101” and asking to speak to the domestic violence team.
If you are married to or in a civil partnership with your abuser, our specialist family solicitors can talk to you about how you can obtain a divorce or dissolution. We offer an initial 1hour consultation for £150 including VAT, during which you will be advised about any potential divorce, finance, and children applications.
If you are worried about how you are going to pay for legal assistance, you might wish to consider getting a loan especially designed to cover the cost of family proceedings. Such lending services are completely independent, and solicitors do not receive any financial incentive. You can speak to one of our family solicitors about the various options for funding your case.
The Dash Charity
The Dash Charity supports those within the community affected by domestic violence. Details about the range of services provided can be found here: https://thedashcharity.org.uk/pages/15-services. During COVID-19, the frontline workers are supporting their clients remotely. The helpline (01753 549 865) is open 9:30am to 2:30pm on Monday to Wednesday and 9:30am to 4:00pm on Thursday and Friday.
Categorised in: Family Law
This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP