In late April, national research announced some catastrophic statistics on the effect of lockdown on those men, women and children who had to self-isolate in abusive relationships and households.
The National research into domestic abuse during the lockdown included:
- 16 people killed in the first three weeks of lockdown – the largest number of killings in a three-week period for 11 years and more than double the average rate
- A 49% rise in calls to abuse helpline, compared with average
- A 35% rise in calls to Men’s Advice Line, in the first week*
These surges in figures are catastrophic and therefore we take a closer look at what is being done.
Government Advice to the public during the coronavirus lockdown
“You’re safer at home.”
But, are you? Most of us are. But there are some who are not so lucky.
In the UK — like other countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic — it is the continuing public health message – Stay. At. Home. But for numerous British women, men and children, there is no sanctuary to be found within their own homes.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence does not necessary mean only violent behaviour. It can include any incident of threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional) between adults who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender. It is not always physical abuse, and can also include intimidating control and gas lighting, online abuse, and harassment.
An update on the Domestic Abuse Bill
The Domestic Abuse Bill had its second reading at the House of Commons at the end of April. The law was initially introduced under Theresa May’s government last July, but in August, shortly after taking office, Boris Johnson controversially decided to prorogue parliament and the general election was called.
Now that the domestic abuse bill has passed its second reading, it will progress to the ‘committee stage’. This is where legislation is scrutinised, with MPs having the chance to suggest and vote on new amendments. Conservative safeguarding secretary Victoria Atkins will lead the committee stage, shadowed by Labour’s Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding.
The Domestic Abuse Bill promises lots of positive things. Under the new bill, county councils in England (and larger unitary authorities) will be legally required to provide support and ensure safe accommodation for domestic abuse victims and their children.
The proposed legislation increases the definition of domestic abuse and bans alleged abusers from cross-examining victims in courts.
Domestic abuse during the lockdown – What do I do if I think I am a victim?
The statistics are appalling but not unsurprising in the circumstances and some may think that the governments response has been too little too late.
The government has recognised that despite recent measures the household isolation because of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
But some are saying these victims are leaving and, in most cases, will have nowhere to go to feel safe.
Campaigners are seeking that empty properties are opened to allow those to flea and hotels are used for the overspill from refuges.
Useful contacts for domestic violence victims:
National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327
The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123
The law on domestic abuse during the lockdown
Those who are subjected to domestic abuse should be aware that the police are arresting perpetrators and they will break down doors to protect victims.
Can I Get Help If I am Self-Isolating or Social Distancing at Home?
It is vital that you keep yourself and your children safe as a priority if you find yourself subjected to domestic violence of any sort. Your safety and your children’s safety are paramount so you should seek help as soon as you can.
As mentioned above, the lockdown rules of staying at home if you have been a victim of domestic abuse then you can leave your home to escape the violence and access the help needed.
Family courts remain open and family law teams are in the position to obtain emergency injunctions for you to protect you. Hearings are being taken place remotely and orders can be attained without notice to the perpetrators. These orders are also being granted in a matter of hours after contacting a family law solicitor.
Campaigners are at present urging everyone to be vigilant of such cases. If you are concerned about a neighbour or friend, and feel you can do something about it, contact the police as this may provide them with the lifeline they need.
Lockdown does not mean we cannot provide support to our close ones and there is law on our side that is still accessible for all. If you or a friend or family member is trapped in an abused relationship, contact JMR Solicitors for a free 30-minute consultation where you can obtain legal advice on the best course of action.
Contact JMR Solicitors for Domestic Abuse cases during lockdown
If you are self-isolating in an abusive relationship and would like any advice on domestic abuse and your legal situation, you can contact our Family Law team to speak to one of our specialist domestic abuse lawyers on 0161 491 3933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.