Domestic Violence & Mental Health Awareness Week

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11 May, 2021

Ayesha Murdoch

Domestic Abuse has a huge impact on peoples mental health. Domestic abuse isn't always physical and can often be mental abuse. According to the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that over a 12-month period to year ending March 2020, approximately 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse (1.6 million women and 757,000 men), this is a slight decrease from the previous year. These figures take into account domestic abuse by a partner, either current or previous partner and they include domestic abuse by family members. During the first three months of the first lockdown period due to the Coronavirus, there was a 7% increase in violence against the person offences flagged as domestic abuse related. Domestic abuse is a significant issue which happens day to day in people's lives and can affect the individual, children and their wider family.

It is important to understand that domestic abuse is not just physical abuse and the official definition as defined by the UK Government is:

"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality." It can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional.

If you believe you are the victim of domestic abuse there are a number of services and options available to you. You can protect yourself from the abuser/potential abuser by:

Obtaining a Non-Molestation Order

A Non-Molestation Order is an order which we would apply to the court on your behalf for, once granted the abuser would be prohibited using or threatening physical violence, intimidating, harassing, pestering or communicating with you. An order could prevent the abuser coming within a certain distance of you, your home address or even attending your place of work. It could also include your children in certain circumstances. An order will also prevent an abuser from instructing or encouraging others to do any of those actions. If you have evidence of the abuse then you may be able to access free legal help through Legal Aid. In most circumstances, you will need to have reported the abuse to the police or to your GP in order to be eligible for Legal Aid.

Accessing Clare's Law (also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme)

This is a service available to anyone who has concerns that their partner may harm them or a third party, such as a parent, neighbour or friend who has concerns about someone's safety. The request can be made by contacting the police on 101 or by visiting your local police station. Once the application is made, the police will carry out a range of checks and if they find a record of abusive offences, or if they feel there is a risk of abuse or violence, they will then consider sharing this information with you. If they do decide to make a disclosure, they will always do so in person to the person who is at risk. By providing this information it will allow you to make a more informed decision on whether to continue with the relationship, as well as providing help and support when making the choice.

Seek help and support by contacting either a refuge or a help line:

  • Refuge - which has a 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 or if you feel more comfortable to chat to someone via an online messenger service, this option is available via the website
  • Women's Aid

If you have suffered from domestic violence then it may assist you to attend a course that will help you, such as the Freedom Project which is a free course designed to help the victim make sense of and understand what has happened to them instead of just living with the experience on their own and not knowing how to process it. The course is free and can be completed online here.

The resources above can assist you in the long term, however, if you believe you are in immediate danger, you should always contact 999.

For more information contact Ayesha Murdoch in our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 01772 220 022. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

Learn more about our Family/Divorce department here

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