May 18, 2020

Domestic Abuse during coronavirus lockdown: what help is available?

Support services have reported a surge in calls to helplines, while the Metropolitan police said they had made 4,093 arrests for domestic abuse offences since 9th March.

Domestic abuse is a term that covers a wide spectrum of behaviour. It does of course include physical violence but also controlling and threatening behaviour, financial, psychological and emotional abuse. If you suffering any such abuse at the hands of your partner or a family member, then there’s support available to you.

So who can you turn to?

There does however appear to be significant confusion with regards to which services remain available to victims of domestic abuse during this ongoing period of lockdown. The organisation, Refuge has issued advice on living as safely as possible with an abusive partner until the lockdown restrictions are lifted and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is open 24 hours a day.

Beyond these support services, family solicitors are still available to offer advice and the family courts remain operational, with hearings being heard remotely. The courts are taking steps to protect any victim of domestic abuse and urgent cases will be heard and appropriate protective measures put into place.

Such measures available to the family courts include non molestation and occupation orders. A non-molestation order is designed to be used in circumstances where an individual is experiencing threatening behaviour or harassment. The court has the power to restrict how often one person contacts another and my what communication method, if contact is allowed at all.

An occupation order regulates how a family home is used by the occupants. In many cases such an order requires someone, usually the abusive party, to leave the property.

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