Domestic Abuse & Covid 19

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Update – July 2020: Aside from the above, Domestic abuse takes so many different, very personal forms and the Covid-19 Lockdown has heightened, increased and disclosed the incidence of this often hidden crime. With the Lockdown easing for most of us, comes the opportunity to share, report and to seek and secure help and advice, the ability to do so hitherto prevented by the restrictions and isolation of being house-bound. We at Bennett Griffin are here to provide solid legal advice as to practical, caring and robust ways of making life-affirming changes for you and your family. As the Family lawyer at BG, I would be pleased to chat with you in confidence on 01903 229914 or you can book a free consultation on my Family Advice Clinic.

Original post: It is undoubtedly the case that confinement in accordance with the Government guidelines will have increased the emotional and psychological isolation of many who are experiencing domestic abuse. Many domestic abuse charities are reporting that the control and coercion which many of their clients suffer is continuing behind firmly closed doors and that what the true scale of the societal crisis will not be fully known until the official lockdown lifts completely, if ever in fact. COVID-19 has had the consequential effect of presenting barriers to access to vital support and justice. Victims are not necessarily able to safely access helplines for support; secure sufficient medical evidence to support Court applications or be with family and friends at all or enough to offer a coping network.

MOJ has secured £25 million as part of a £76 million government package of support to charities supporting vulnerable people including victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

The Government is reacting and responding and has unveiled measures to help charities look after their clients. Extraordinary COVID-19 funding will be distributed through two separate funds, one through Police and Crime Commissioners and one through the national Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund. Separately from the funding, MOJ will also provide an extra £3 million to PCCs (Police bodies) to specifically fund Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) until 2022.

Our local domestic abuse charity, Safe in Sussex, remain active and alert and they continue to be “… concerned about people living with domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic, as home is not always a safe place for people and perpetrators may use the infection control measures as a way of controlling and coercive behaviour. We are still offering support through our outreach service over the telephone, via text and email. People can call us or visit our website to refer themselves to the outreach service. Our refuge service is still operating and keeping people safe remains a priority for the charity.

Safe in Sussex contact details:

Telephone:  0330 333 7416 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm)

If people are in immediate danger they should telephone the Police on 999. There is also a national domestic abuse helpline available 24 hours a day: 0808 2000 247

By Jackie Mensah, Family Solicitor for Bennett Griffin

Disclaimer – Please note that this update is not intended to be exhaustive or be a substitute for legal advice. The application of the law in this area will often depend upon the specific facts and you are advised to seek specific advice on any given scenario.