News | April 28, 2020

Domestic abuse and coronavirus 28th April 2020

Unfortunately, domestic abuse can often, due to the very nature of it, be under-reported.

It is also often sadly true that at certain times – such as at that of economic crisis – rates of reported incidents increase.  

It is probably no surprise that due to the current coronavirus situation, and the “lockdown”, rates of enquiries regarding domestic violence, as well as enquiries about the help that can be provided have increased, as have reported incidents.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline (which is run by Refuge) offers individuals a helpline that can be contacted to free (and in confidence), 24 hours a day (0808 2000 247) has saw the number of calls sharply increase to 25% above the usual number of calls, in the second week of lockdown – increasing to a huge 49% more after 3 weeks.

Lisa King from Refuge has said:

“The message from government and from Refuge is that if you are experiencing domestic abuse and you want to leave your household and you are safe to do so, to then reach out and access support”.

Respect – a national advice line supporting male victims of domestic violence also saw a huge surge in enquiries – with them reporting a 35% increase recently (number. 0808 8010339)

The newspapers are also reporting:

  1. Domestic violence and murders taking place in lockdown;
  2. The police are reporting an increased amount of domestic violence incidents;
  3. Internet searches of domestic-abuse related matters are increasing; and
  4. The government pledging funds to help support helplines, online support and charities.

It is important to note that:

  1. Domestic violence and abuse refers to any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners of family members.
  2. It covers a variety of types of abuse, including but not limited to:
    1. Psychological;
    2. Physical;
    3. Sexual;
    4. Financial; and
    5. Emotional
  3. If you or someone known to you is in immediate danger then you should contact the police on 999.
  4. Importantly – the government have made it very clear that “the household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse”.

Wedlake Bell can advise in relation to domestic abuse matters and look at various options which may include a non-molestation order (essentially an injunction obtained through the Court) and an occupation order (an order that could for example, order that the other party vacates the family home).