Domestic abuse and coronavirus – the impact of lockdown on victims
On 23 March 2020 the government put the UK into lockdown to protect everyone from a worldwide threat - coronavirus.
Told to ‘Stay at Home’ to stay safe we sought sanctuary at home, surrounded by our immediate families, hoping we could see wider family and friends soon. For most it meant a sudden change in how we worked; juggling home-schooling with home working, or suddenly adjusting to being on furlough – a word most had never heard of prior to March 2020.
For some, however, staying at home was far from staying safe, and far from a place of sanctuary.
Domestic abuse in lockdown
Domestic abuse is sadly more prevalent than many imagine. For many being told to stay at home meant being locked in with an abuser. For so many, being able to access support and/or experience some respite whilst they, or their abuser, go out to work is what keeps them going. Sadly for many children, lockdown meant witnessing abuse, or being abused behind closed doors.
The phrase ‘domestic abuse’ is all encompassing, from being physically harmed by someone who should be there to love and support you, to being coercively controlled through financial, sexual and emotional abuse. Simply because there are no bruises, no physical injuries, does not mean there is no abuse. For some the physical injuries may disappear over time, but the emotional injuries may never fade.
With domestic abuse call outs and referrals at an all time high and with our local domestic abuse service reporting a 60-70% increase in referrals since lockdown, it is more important than ever for those at risk to know help is out there and available now.
The support available for domestic abuse victims
Thankfully there is support available for those who need it in times of crisis. Help is at hand through organisations and charities such as Southside Domestic Abuse Service and Julian House, who offer support and guidance for those who need it - a place of refuge, impartial advice, as well as practical help to get out of abusive relationships. Speaking to a trusted person is the first step, whether that is a friend, your GP or another professional.
At Royds Withy King we specialise in all areas of Family law work including Domestic Abuse. We are regularly instructed by those who need help and advice to keep themselves and their children safe, both in the short and longer term. We assist with obtaining injunctions (non-molestation orders) as well as occupation orders to ensure the home is the safe place it should be. We assist individuals in obtaining Prohibited Steps or Child Arrangements Order to help keep the children safe.
We pride ourselves on offering confidential advice and appointments when our clients know they can share their worries and concerns in the knowledge that we are compassionate and understanding professionals who provide clear and practical advice.
We are delighted to be in a position to continue to be able to offer Legal Aid to those who require assistance where they have suffered or are suffering from domestic abuse or where their child is considered at risk. As a firm we feel passionately that everyone who needs specialist legal advice should be able to receive it.