DOMESTIC ABUSE

Last Updated: 07 April 2020

Many countries have reported an increase in domestic abuse cases and have linked this directly to the coronavirus pandemic.

The attached information sheet, provided by Nazia Rashid, Anthony Gold Solicitors provides details of remedies available from the English family court and also, important information to be considered by anyone currently experiencing domestic abuse.

Our message - result of Covid-19

Social restrictions and self-isolation are not an excuse to be abused.  Do not think that you must put up with the abuse because of the coronavirus and current lockdown. 

Help is out there although accessing it might be different to how it was before Covid-19 but the bottom line is, if you require urgent help and assistance or need to flee from where you are, a solution will be found.  Please do not suffer in silence or in isolation.

WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE?

Police

If you are currently in a situation whereby you or your children are at risk of immediate serious harm – dial 999 immediately for police assistance.

Solicitors

Emergency Injunction Orders

  • We can obtain emergency injunction orders and protective orders in respect of your children. The family courts are working very hard to avoid physical hearings at the current time and are arranging remote hearings wherever possible in light of Covid-19.

  • There is no court fee to make an application for an injunction order.

  • An injunction order will directly address the abuse you are being subjected to, or at risk of. It will forbid such abuse from happening again. It can also forbid the perpetrator from contacting you and from attending your place of residence. An order could be obtained, if appropriate, for an individual to be ordered to leave the family home and not to re-enter.

  • If you and the other party remain living in the same family home, the court has the power to regulate the occupancy of the family home. Restrictions could be made whereby certain communal areas are no longer shared and can only be accessed at certain times and forbid one from entering the other party’s room where they sleep.

  • Emergency orders can also be obtained without the other party knowing. These are called without notice applications and hearings. However, the other party will not be bound by any order you might obtain, until it is served upon them i.e. they are aware that an order has been made against them, the terms of the order, a copy of your application and any evidence that you have submitted to the court.

  • Breaches of protective injunction orders can amount to an arrestable offence.

  • With the court’s permission, the order that you obtain can be served upon the other party by email instead of by personal service (usually a process server) in light of Covid-19.

  • Legal aid is available to those who financially qualify.

Warning Letters

  • Another option – is the use of warning letters. Sometimes, the abuse might not be considered serious enough for an injunction order to be made, or, you might not want to issue court proceedings but you would like the other party to be warned that should the abusive behaviour continue you or get worse, you will report the matter to the police and take further legal advice upon the issuing of court proceedings and seek an order for costs.

  • If proceedings become necessary, a copy of the warning letter is exhibited to illustrate the attempts you have made to bring the abuse to an end without the need for the court to intervene.

 

Which solicitor

  • If you do not know which firm of solicitors to contact local to you, visit Resolution’s first for family law website and click on the tab – find a member. Resolution is a body of solicitors specialising in family law. Their website address is www.resolution.org.uk.

 

  • You could also visit the Law Society website and again click on the tab – find a solicitor. The website address is www.lawsociety.org.uk
     

  • Both Resolution and the Law Society will have accredited specialists in domestic abuse cases.

Support Groups

In addition to legal protection, one should not forget the vast amount of charitable support groups that provide a vital layer of help and support. There are many support groups out there who will provide help and guidance in confidence - details of which you can find online.

Some support groups provide assistance to women of a specific background or culture and will have support workers who are able to speak in different languages.

Examples of some support groups are:

  • Women’s Aid
    www.womensaid.org.uk
    National organisation providing help to sufferers of all backgrounds

  • Refuge
    www.refuge.org.uk
    National organisation providing help to sufferers of all backgrounds

  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline
    0808 2000 247

  • Southall Black Sisters
    www.southallblacksisters.org.uk
    020 8571 9595
    Focus in helping black and minority women – although will help women in an emergency

  • Kiran Support Services
    www.kiranss.org.uk
    020 8558 1986
    Focus in providing safe, temporary accommodation and assistance women and children from the wider Asian community or for those women with similar cultures

  • IKWRO
    www.ikwro.org.uk
    020 7920 6460
    Refuge for Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women. The refuge provides safe accommodation and specialist support to single women at risk of “honour”  based violence, forced marriage, FGM and domestic abuse.

Community Members

If you are active in your local community, it is important for you to, insofar as it is safe to do so, keep in touch with individuals who are known to be at risk of harm and where such risk is likely to be exacerbated by the current lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

Domestic abuse sufferers – an exit plan

Lastly, if you are someone experiencing domestic abuse, it is important for you to think about an exit plan.

If you consider that there is a real risk that you or a dependent child will be subjected to serious harm:

  1. How would you obtain urgent help?

  2. Have you spoken to a trustworthy friend or family member?

  3. Where would you go?

  4. Would you need to flee to a safe house outside your borough - i.e. a women’s refuge?

  5. Do you need legal advice about obtaining emergency court orders?

 

Have you:

1. Made a note, and preferably not on your phone should there be a risk your phone might be confiscated or accessed by someone you do not trust, of important telephone numbers such as:

  • Your GP

  • Women support groups

  • Health visitor

  • Social worker

  • Solicitor

2. Recorded any important login details – although this is best done, mentally for security purposes

3. Placed important documents which apply to you or any dependent child in an easy accessible place, including:

  • Your driving licence

  • Passport(s)

  • Recent bank statement(s)

  • Red book(s)

  • Any other important documents?

4. Medication – for yourself and children

5. Money

6. Any other important item(s) should there be a need for you and your children to leave in an emergency whereby you will have very little time to gather your belongings and be able to think with a ‘clear head’.

7. Make a plan on how you will actually leave -

  • Who will assist you confidentially?

  • Where will you go?

  • What transport would you use?

When putting a plan together, you must do so carefully. You wouldn’t want to arouse the suspicions of untrustworthy members of your household as this is likely to place you at greater risk of harm. Therefore, only take the steps that are absolutely necessary since your safety is extremely important, as well as the safety of - of young children who may be relying upon you. And lastly, always remember, what you are experiencing is important to a family law solicitor.

Useful Links

Support Groups

Women’s Aid
www.womensaid.org.uk 

Refuge 
www.refuge.org.uk 

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
0808 2000 247 

Southall Black Sisters 
www.southallblacksisters.org.uk 
020 8571 9595 

Kiran Support Services 
www.kiranss.org.uk 
020 8558 1986 

IKWRO 
www.ikwro.org.uk 
020 7920 6460 

 

www.mlpbg.com | Muslim Lawyers Pro Bono Group

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