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The importance of White Ribbon Day in the time of Covid-19

View profile for Graeme Barclay
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White Ribbon Day is an important day every year in the bid to raise awareness of the domestic abuse men and women suffer every day, however this year brings with it more importance in light of the current lockdowns we are enduring due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Graeme Barclay, Family Law Partner, explains more about the day, how the Domestic Abuse Bill is working towards more support for individuals, and details where people can turn if they are facing domestic abuse.

What is White Ribbon Day?

This year, White Ribbon Day falls on Wednesday 25th November and focusses on promoting the message that there is no excuse for domestic abuse.  “This year we have seen a significant increase in violence, harassment and abuse during the pandemic,” begins Graeme.  “The National Domestic Abuse Helpline received more than 40,000 calls during the first three months of lockdown earlier this year, with an increase of 77% in calls in June alone from those needing support who were at risk of domestic abuse in the home.  According to Women’s Aid, 61% of those who experienced domestic abuse stated that their abuse worsened during the first lockdown, and as we are currently living through a second national lockdown, it is vital that those facing abuse know where they can turn for support.”

Domestic abuse does not solely manifest as physical abuse, but can also be mental, emotional and financial control over the other person.  As we continue to face uncertainty during the next few weeks and months during lockdown and beyond, abusers seek to gain control in any area of their lives that they can, which can be turned towards those they live with.  Even during lockdown when our movements are restricted, there may be signs that someone close to you could be facing domestic abuse in the home:

  • You may notice a change in the way they are willing to communicate with you.
  • They may make excuses for not coming on to video calls.
  • They may withdraw on social media or they may overly compensate with out of character posts about their relationship.
  • They may only attend calls or virtual gatherings with their partner present.
  • Employers or team managers may notice an employee become withdrawn, become unreliable with their work and not as engaged as they may have once been.

Even in spite of the current restrictions during lockdown, you are able to leave your home if you fear for your safety or the safety of your children at the hands of your partner, unless you are self-isolating or have symptoms of coronavirus.  There are also legal steps you can take; namely applying for a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order.  For both of these orders, it is possible to obtain these within 24-48 hours.

The Domestic Abuse Bill – how will the law change in the future?

During the first lockdown, the Government pledged increased funds for domestic abuse charities and organisations in a bid to assist them with supporting sufferers of domestic abuse.  In July, the revolutionary Domestic Abuse Bill also passed its final stage in the House of Commons, a significant step forward in changing the law regarding domestic abuse.

The Bill set out three clear objectives to raise awareness and understanding of domestic abuse, to improve the justice system and provide stronger support.  “There are a total of 123 legislative and practical changes detailed in the Bill,” continues Graeme.  “The most crucial that we will see from a legal perspective will be in the introduction of Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders which will impose long-term bans on abusers making contact, as well as the legal change to the definition of domestic abuse to include coercive or controlling behaviour.  One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime and this Bill goes one step closer to a fairer justice system and instilling confidence in those who are suffering to step forward to take action.”

We know that if you are currently living in an abusive relationship you will already be feeling cut off from those you know and love, without the added isolation of lockdown.  You can call or email us to discuss your situation and whether there are legal steps we can take to protect you and your children who may be in harms way.  We will only ever proceed in a way that you are comfortable with and consent to.  To discuss the options open to you with Graeme or a member of the Family team, you can contact us today by calling 023 8071 7431 or email family@warnergoodman.co.uk.

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.