Covid-19 and domestic abuse – what options do I have?

12th June 2020

Kelsey Cant has considered the issues caused by Covid-19 and domestic abuse.

As lockdown begins to ease and restrictions are lifted, survivors of domestic abuse may still be feeling trapped and isolated. Although the lines may feel blurred in terms of what we are/are not allowed to do the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has pledged to show victims of domestic abuse that they are not alone in her Government statement in April 2020. Priti Patel hopes to reach out to those who are at risk and reassure them that support services and the Police are still on hand.

Since the government lockdown was announced, domestic violence charities have seen an increase in calls. Refuge, a domestic violence support agency, has seen an increase of 700%. It is important, that if you are a victim of domestic violence, you know what options are available to you.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can come in lots of forms, including but not limited to the following:-

  • Physical abuse
  • Controlling behaviour
  • Financial abuse
  • Online abuse
  • Verbal and emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there is help out there.

However it is important that, if you are at risk of immediate harm, you call 999.

If you are not able to speak on the phone, you can press the number 5 twice during the call – ’55’- and the call will be transferred to the relevant Police service as a matter of urgency.

How can we help?

Here at Hannays Solicitors and Advocates, we can advise you on the different options available to secure long-term protection. One of the main types of protection is by obtaining a Non-Molestation Order. This is a civil order which can prohibit a person from using or threatening violence, communicating, intimidating or harassing, or even entering or coming within a certain distance of an address. The Court will only grant an order if there is a genuine need for protection. If granted, the order would be in force for a specified period of time, often 6 or 12 months, and if not abided by, can result in imprisonment for up to 5 years or a fine.

Another type of order is also available. This is called an Occupation Order. This order, if granted, can stop the other party from living in the family home. However, it is a complex area of law and the courts are reluctant to grant these orders unless absolutely necessary. We are able to provide advice on this and would recommend that you contact one of the specialist family lawyers for more information.

How much will it cost me?

Legal Aid is available but it is financially tested. We are able to assess whether you would be eligible for Legal Aid. The Legal Aid Agency must also be satisfied that the Non-Molestation Order or Occupation Order is necessary to protect your safety. If you are not eligible, advice around domestic abuse can be obtained on a privately paying basis and we can provide a quote for this at the outset.

Here at Hannays Solicitors and Advocates, we understand that taking the step to leave an abusive partner may leave you with feelings of anxiety, dread and guilt. We are here to provide you with practical steps and comprehensive advice to keep you safe.

Please contact our office on 0191 4555361 to make an appointment.