Fear is something that surrounds many cases that we witness at Ison Harrison and we frequently see a sense of relief when a client starts talking about their domestic issues and hearing how we can help them. Of course, this means that the client has reached the stage where they feel they can attempt to address their situation. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the sense of fear has gone away, and our staff need to use all their skills to assure the client that they have done the right thing and that we are here to help.
Increasingly, we are sensing a reluctance to come forward when certain domestic issues are being experienced. There is definitely a fear factor in making the step to admit that something happening to you is very wrong, then doing something about it, and then even talking about these experiences. At Ison Harrison our staff are trained to recognise these signs, to offer sympathetic and compassionate advice and first and foremost to listen.
Of course we understand how difficult these situations are. There are many unwritten rules which essentially rely on instinct, with regards to when an individual should admit ‘enough is enough’, when they are fearful and wish to take action, or when a third party feels it is appropriate to intervene. Three common but highly complex issues that regularly suffer from these scenarios are the following:
Domestic abuse – A Citizens Advice survey in 2013 found there were over half a million cases of domestic abuse in the UK which hadn’t been reported. These often centre around financial or employment pressures, or drug and alcohol abuse, or family issues. Often these are reported too late and the victim has already suffered physical abuse and injuries or sexual assault. Our staff often find that the victim is reluctant to come forward through a misguided loyalty to the perpetrator of the abuse, or because they fear the consequences of coming forward. They also feel embarrassed and humiliated and fear that nobody will believe them.
Care proceedings – Intervention in issues of child abuse or neglect usually involves a neighbour, friend or relative, rarely the child themselves. It is very difficult to be aware of such issues and to know when a line has been crossed and when you should step in. And of course young children can’t be expected to understand the possible effects of drink and drugs and may be conditioned to believe abusive behaviour is normal. Knowing when this is an issue that should be passed on to the authorities is a moral dilemma, but one that we all need to recognise and act upon.
Forced marriage protection orders – A final, common occurrence is where a person is either threatened with a forced marriage by their family or is in a forced marriage which has become abusive and/or controlling. A forced marriage is where full and free consent has not been obtained by both parties, and usually involves duress. This can be under the pressure of family to control behaviour relating to drink and drugs, sexual behaviour, to prevent unwanted relationships or for immigration purposes. Forced marriage is often linked to honour based violence (a situation whereby violence occurs within a family, as an individual is punished for bringing apparent shame upon the family name).
To protect people being faced with forced marriages, a protection order can be raised which prohibits contact and places restrictions to protect the victim, for example if they were being forced to move to another country. A protection order is free and in emergency circumstances can be issued immediately and without the partner being involved.
Parveen Ahmed, Partner at Ison Harrison Solicitors, is a highly experienced Family Law Solicitor who can advise on domestic violence, child care proceedings and marriage disputes. Parveen is a domestic violence expert with a specialist accreditation in forced marriage and honour based violence and has extensive experience advising in all areas of the complex and emotionally traumatic domestic issues discussed.
For anyone struggling with any of these issues, and who require legal advice, we understand the levels of distress and ordeal they are likely to have experienced before getting to the point of contacting us, so our primary concern is to be a friendly face who will listen. After that, we have a team of people who can considerately but purposefully put a plan of action together to address the issues decisively and always with the individual’s and their family’s best interests as the major concern.
We understand that fear is an emotion that everybody feels, and being brave enough to tackle those fears is a huge step forward, and we are committed to providing a service which, slowly but surely, will mean that more and more people will try to overcome those fears and let us help.
For specialist family law legal advice, please call our Leeds office on 0113 284 5000.