Trapped, isolated, frightened and without hope. These are some of the emotions that are likely to be experienced by those all over our country that are in an abusive relationship. Those feelings must be magnified at a time where the victim may not be able to get any break from their abuser; forced into lockdown as they quite properly comply with the government guidance. It is not only those in a relationship that can suffer abuse. As more and more of us are isolating with family groups there are reports of abuse from one member of the household to another, so called ‘Cinderella’ abuse.
Understanding Domestic Abuse
Sometimes for those who are suffering abuse the first step is realise that they are a victim. One positive that appears to have come from the coronavirus outbreak is that more of us are talking about domestic abuse and the sufferers. This discussion has encouraged an awareness of what domestic abuse is. There are reports that internet searches such as ‘What is domestic abuse?’ have increased by 46%. Concerns about those who are suffering abuse have prompted the government to talk about the issue at the highest levels.
Our experience of clients enquiring about domestic abuse in the past has been that they often think unless they have been brutally physically harmed that what they are suffering does not count as abuse. This is wrong. The law now recognises that abuse comes in many forms not all of it physical.
The definition of abuse is any incident or pattern of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. Violence of course is one of the more obvious forms of abuse, but it is not the only form of abuse. Many abusers appreciate that if they inflict an obvious injury this will make them more vulnerable to being caught and so other tactics are used to intimidate and bully their victim. Maybe there was violence in the beginning but more recently your abuser has changed tactics and is more controlling. This can go on for years with the victim’s friends and family not even knowing what they are going through as the victim is trained to accept that way of life and make excuses for their abuser.
Help is available
The most important thing is for those abused to know that there is still help out there. The Police are the first line of defence on the front line for those who are frightened and are encouraging people to call 999, staying silent and then to press 55 when told to which will let the Police know the caller is in danger and cannot say why. The Police have reassured sufferers that those calls will be followed up.
Fantastic charities both locally and nationally are still operating in these challenging times and are anxious for people to know that they are not alone. Courts are still functioning just in new ways. Victims can still get injunctions which force the abuser out of the household to protect them and their children, if they have them, but those without children can still apply. Legal aid, meaning government money to help with fees for using a solicitor in these situations is still out there and a solicitor can help you to get that funding. If you would like a free initial confidential discussion with our family law team please call 0113 284 5000.
The overall message is do not suffer in silence #YouAreNotAlone