The first step in tackling domestic abuse
Sometimes it is important to write blogs on the more difficult subjects. On Thursday, the Guardian published an article titled ‘the day my husband strangled me’, which outlined the difficulties and confusion that an individual experiencing domestic abuse can face.
The article captured the array of emotions that a victim of domestic abuse faces: the strength that victims have in trying to keep a brave face for their child or children, hope and forgiveness in letting an abusive partner back into their lives because of their hope that change is possible, even an experience of guilt because they want their family unit to work. All of which is being experienced at the same time as living in total fear.
Domestic violence can occur in lots of ways. A male or a female can be a victim of domestic abuse; and a male or a female can be a perpetrator of domestic abuse. Each case is different.
In the article, a physical attack had taken place, but there were also elements of emotional and psychological abuse which were present as well. The article said “He’d been following me around the house, telling me my face looked awful, and that I brought sadness into the room”. Many would not think that his is abuse, but it can be an example of emotional or psychological abuse that sometimes people are not able to identify at first.
It takes confidence to say, “that’s enough now” and draw a line through fear of not knowing where to turn but there are always people who can help.
First and foremost, it is essential that the police are called where there are any concerns about a person’s physical safety or a child’s safety. The police should always be the first port of call and can advise whether any emergency protective measures can be put in place from a criminal law perspective.
The civil law also offers protection to victims of domestic abuse. As family lawyers, we are able to offer advice on obtaining emergency injunctive protection/ making urgent court applications to protect an individual or child(ren) from an abusive partner.
What remedies are available from a family law perspective?
Non-molestation Orders are available where there has been abuse or threats of abuse (including intimidation, threats and harassment). If a non-molestation order is obtained, it can prevent the abuser from using or threatening violence or instigating abuse against a person or their child.
Occupation Orders are also available in some cases. If an occupation order is obtained, it can regulate the occupation of part or whole of the property and prevent an abuser from returning to their property.
It is always essential to take legal advice on remedies which may be available and to not be afraid of asking for help, which is always the first step in tackling domestic abuse.
There are a number of independent organisations offering support to those who experience domestic abuse:
Please be aware when accessing internet resources on these topics on a shared computer or linked devices. Many websites have an “exit page” button to enable you to close the webpage quickly, but you should also check your browser history etc to make sure that there is no trail left of the pages you have visited.