- What We Do
- Your Options
- Meet the team
- Join Us
We all know the term “domestic abuse”. However, do we know what it means or who it is happening to? Domestic abuse is, unfortunately, happening all around us and yet very few of us will know it happens to our friends or family as it usually occurs behind closed doors.
The statistics on domestic abuse are shocking. According to www.refuge.org.uk 1 in 4 women in England and Wales experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. 1 in 6 men experience it in their lifetime. Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic abuse call. On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police. 20% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse. These are horrifying figures.
The Domestic Abuse Act received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021 and provides a legal definition of domestic abuse. The definition recognises that abuse can be:
For the definition to apply both parties must be aged 16 or over and personally connected which broadly means they are in or have been in a relationship with the other person.
The term domestic abuse covers a wide range of behaviors and does not always mean that there is physical abuse. A large proportion of the cases I deal with have an element of domestic abuse within them. My clients are sometimes reluctant to discuss the abuse or address it. They simply want to leave the relationship and get out of the situation as quickly and easily as possible.
Domestic abuse is not confined to any one type of person, it can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, religion, race. The victims have often been isolated by the abuser with their links and access to friends and family limited. They describe living in the home with the abuser as like walking on eggshells when they never know what behaviour will set the abuser off. Others will see warning signs that there is about to be a problem.
The person suffering from domestic abuse can feel embarrassed – how can an educated woman have found herself in this situation? How can a man be under the control of a woman who is so much physically smaller than him? These are common feelings. It is also usual to feel that no one will believe that this apparently charming person could behave in this way behind closed doors.
The idea of going to court to get an injunction to stop the abuser contacting the victim or forcing them to leave the house is a terrifying thought for most people experiencing domestic abuse. I can help a person experiencing domestic abuse to obtain these injunctions but it is not the right resolution for everyone. It is too much for them to do, even taking the step of speaking to a solicitor about the situation can be as much as they can manage at the time.
Often my clients need to build the confidence in themselves again before they can take the next step through me and leave their abusive pattern. What I can do at a first meeting is talk through the options, let the person know there are choices and perhaps most importantly reassure them that all those threats such as :
Are threats that are regularly made and that our legal system is equipped to deal with. There are answers and solutions that protect the victim. There are ways to ensure the abuser continues to pay the mortgage, leaving the home does not mean losing rights of ownership, the children’s needs will be looked at properly and not be determined by who remains living in the house.
There is good support out there for those experiencing domestic abuse. It is well worth anyone who is thinking of leaving their abusive partner accessing support, to give them the strength to then follow on the advice we give them. Local services include :
If you are in an abusive relationship and want to know more about what could happen if you leave, and what you can do to protect yourself, then contact us for a confidential, non-judgemental chat.