The Group Hug asked me to write this article on domestic violence in my role as a Family Solicitor.
Previously I have written about the effects of the Covid-19 virus and the implications this may have on child arrangements. Now I write about the coronavirus and how it may cause cases of domestic violence to increase.
When the government and their medical experts gave their recommendations about self-isolating the time had arrived where we became like other countries and were not able to go out, except for reasons outlined by those in charge.
This article is not about the recommendations which we should respect if we wish ourselves and our loved ones to stay safe and assist the overburdened NHS . We must be very grateful for those gifted with great medical and scientific minds and all the doctor’s, nurses and other not mentioned but very valuable keyworkers.
What we will find out during this time, is a lot more about our respective relationships.
The police have stated that cases of domestic violence increase when there is a financial issue, alcohol abuse or, loss of a job.
Unfortunately for those already in an abusive relationship, the self-isolating, and lock-down is going to be a perpetrators dream. Please remember that abusers do not come with signs hanging around their necks and can be male or female.
Having to stay home self-isolation/lock down.
My own personal view is that there are going to be more new acts of domestic violence because of the pressures which many couples have not previously experienced. The triggers have never been part of the relationship, but now, the pressure of maybe having no money, home-schooling the children, working from home and not being able to go out save for exercise and food can change the dynamic of even the most stable relationship.
The reality is that most people around the world have never heard their government telling them they cannot go to the pub or restaurant. They have never seen sporting events closed down or found their gym on lock-down indefinitely. Not being able to go out can build up pressure within the confines of the home. Where there was once the opportunity to go off to meet a friend for a coffee after a disagreement with a spouse or partner, now people find themselves unable to escape.
The children do not have a break from their parents and vice versa.
Where we once had space, now there is none and while it is for our own good, it is still alien to us all. The tension builds when we are living on top of each other and tempers can become short. While there is no excuse for this behaviour, there is going to be an upsurge in violence and ill feeling in some households. Living in this close proximity to each other for weeks on end is going to lead us to finding out things we never knew about the other person. We will find out things we don’t like. Where will this leave the relationship?
We may become paranoid about the other person on their mobile phone or never off their lap top.
Everyone is in the same boat, dealing with job losses, or a downturn in business, trying to occupy bored children and worrying about vulnerable family members. There is never an excuse for coercive control or domestic violence.
What should you do if you find yourself in an abusive situation?
If abuse happens, then call 999. There is no social shame about asking the police to attend your property. The situation we now find ourselves in is not going to get better for the foreseeable future. If the perpetrator can go elsewhere then fine, but remember, for now the situation and the pressure is not going to change and people’s tempers are short.
Try and gather as much evidence of the abuse as you can. Make a diary if time allows. Use your mobile for emergencies and take photos if you can. Be aware that the perpetrator may try and take your mobile from you to stop you contacting the outside world.
What you need to do is to try and prepare an escape plan, this will not be easy, if you have children.
With the coronavirus pandemic taking hold it is going to be harder given you may not be able to go to a previously safe place such as a parents home because of restrictions. While you may feel awkward telling your loved ones, it is better to speak out than to endure the fear and danger of the ticking time bomb which could get set off at any time.
If you can make a call, it may be easier to make an excuse and take yourself and or the children to a safe place if possible and then go to the police. Or say you are going to take a walk.
If the perpetrator has taken your mobile, either try and slip out of the house and use a neighbours phone or get into a taxi.
- Go to a friend’s/relatives and then to the police
- Seek legal advice from a solicitor
- Remember everyone is affected by the virus, so the usual plans may be difficult
- Speak to family or friends and see if you can stay with them while you obtain legal advice
- See if the perpetrator has another place to stay and ask the police to ask him to leave.
- Once the perpetrator is out, then plans can be made for protection and long term aims.
- Contact charities such as DASH or Women’s Aid or Men’s Advice Line
This current situation is going to test even the strongest relationship as the virus does not discriminate again anyone.
Family law is here to assist and so is legal aid, but in an emergency where most places are closed, the police will help and assist.