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Safe spaces to become available for people suffering domestic abuse

View profile for Graeme Barclay
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The coronavirus pandemic has brought with it much devastation in our family lives, including the rise in domestic abuse.  Findings have shown a higher than average number of people suffering domestic abuse since the introduction of lockdown and recently Boots have announced that they will be offering safe spaces across their stores for people to use for support and advice.  Graeme Barclay, Family Law Partner, explains how we can still help those who are living in an abusive relationship, even during the current lockdown situation. 

Domestic abuse during lockdown

Most people will be struggling with the new way we are living our lives in lockdown, spending more time together and juggling work, childcare and our own mental health.  For those who are living in fear of domestic abuse however, the daily struggles are even more challenging, and sometimes can be life threatening. 

“Reports of domestic abuse have nearly doubled during lockdown according to police forces, and there were more than 4,000 domestic abuse arrests in London within six weeks,” explains Graeme.  “Domestic abuse is all about control over the other person, whether that is physical, mental or financial control, and while living in close proximity 24 hours a day, the abuser will need more than ever to feel in control of their situation.  Lockdown limits the ways that those being abused can reach out for help, cutting out any contact the person may have had with family or friends and restricting their channels of support even further.”

Sadly, the figures show an alarming increase in the number of women killed by men, with researchers from Counting Dead Women Project telling MPs that 14 women and two children had been killed in the first three weeks of lockdown.  This is compared to an average of five deaths looking at the same period of the last 10 years.

Measures to take during lockdown

While we are in lockdown, you may feel that there is no way out for you if you are concerned for your welfare or for that of your children.  Despite the current restrictions, Michael Gove has announced that you can leave the home if you are a person suffering domestic abuse, either for a cooling off period or you can leave the home completely.  There are exceptions to this, for example if you are self-isolating as you have symptoms of coronavirus, or if you are classified as a vulnerable person by the NHS. 

There are steps that we can take, such as applying for a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order; in urgent situations it is possible to obtain these within 24-48 hours. 

“Of course, we must remember that men can also suffer from domestic abuse, and it is also likely that we will see another surge of incidents and people seeking support when lockdown lifts,” concludes Graeme.  “Unfortunately with the pandemic, the Domestic Abuse Bill introduced last July has been postponed, which would bring in new protections for people, including Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Protection Notices, which would be used for impose long-term bans on perpetrators making contact.  There are steps that those who are worried can take now, and we are still here to help and them support them.”  

While we are not able to offer face to face appointments, we are available to discuss your situation with you in a method convenient for you, whether that is over the telephone, video conferencing or email.  You can contact Graeme and a member of the Family Law team today on 023 8071 7431 or email graemebarclay@warnergoodman.co.uk to find out more. 

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.