Is the recent funding boost for domestic abuse victims enough to make a difference?

Please phone 999 if you are in immediate danger, or for other resources, please visit https://www.refuge.org.uk/.

According to the organisation Living Without Abuse, domestic abuse now affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime, and tragically two women on average are murdered each week and 30 men each year as a direct a result of such mistreatment.

While the numbers paint a frankly appalling picture, it is important for anyone currently being affected by domestic abuse to know you are not alone and that support is available.

A financial boost for schemes to assist victims of domestic abuse

In November 2018, the government, recognising the desperate plight of many suffering at the hands of domestic abusers, made an additional £22m available for projects specifically geared to supporting survivors of domestic abuse.  The cash will be used to fund 63 projects across England, helping 25000 survivors and their families.  In relation to the financial boost, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP stated:

“Domestic abuse is a devastating crime, which shatters the lives of survivors and their families. It is our duty to ensure survivors can seek help by providing the support they need to restart their lives.  Through providing specialist accommodation and access to employment, this fund will make sure local authorities and charities can provide a strong safety net for anyone facing the threat of abuse in their own home”.

Availability of assistance for male victims of domestic abuse falls woefully short

While the efforts to lift funding for victims of domestic violence should be applauded, there is a significant shortage of refuge spaces for men.  To put this into context, according to a recent piece in the Telegraph highlighting International Men’s day in the UK, there are a total of 93 places offering refuge or safe houses for men who have been the victim of domestic violence, of which there are none in London, and of those nationally, only 22 are male only; in stark contrast there are 4000 places for women.

How the law deals with domestic abuse

It may come as a surprise to know that in the UK there is no specific statutory offence of domestic violence or domestic abuse.  However, there are other offences which can apply including control and coercion, threats to kill, assault, and rape.

Control is defined as:

“a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour”.

And coercion refers to:

“an act or a pattern of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim”.

Control and Coercion became a criminal offence in 2015 and includes a range of adverse behaviours towards an intimate partner or family member, including:

  • isolating from friends and family
  • deprivation of basic needs
  • monitoring their time
  • monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware
  • taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who
  • they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep
  • depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services
  • repeatedly putting them down, for example, telling them they are worthless
  • enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim
  • forcing the victim to take part in a criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities
  • financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance
  • threats to kill or hurt
  • threats to a child
  • threats to reveal or publish private information
  • assault
  • rape
  • preventing a person from having access to transport or from working

In an emergency, it is recommended that you call the Police as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic abuse and you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999 immediately.

A DVPN is an emergency non-molestation and eviction notice which can be issued by the police, when attending to a domestic abuse incident. With this in place, the abuser is immediately stopped from entering or being close to your home and is legally required to leave the property.  The police can also apply for a DVPN in the immediate aftermath of a domestic incident.

A DVPO will then be requested from the Courts; while this is being processed, the DVPN will remain in force to provide protection.  If the order is breached, the individual may be arrested and detained in custody.  They will then face a Magistrate and may be given a large fine or a prison sentence.

If you are currently safe but need to ensure your long-term protection, it is recommended you call one of our specialist family Solicitors as soon as possible. Depending upon the details, your particular circumstances and, if appropriate, they will be able to seek legal protection on your behalf. Under the Family Law Act 1996, your Solicitor can also apply for an Occupation Order and/or a Non-Molestation Orders.

An Occupation Order is a court order which states who can live in a family home.  It can be used to temporarily exclude an abuser from the home and surrounding area and give the victim and their children the right to remain in the property.

A Non-Molestation Order is a court order which prohibits an abuser from molesting another person they are associated with.  Molestation is not defined in the Act but has been interpreted to include violence, harassment and threatening behaviour.

In summary

For anyone suffering abuse or violence at home, there is a natural fear that by seeking help, they may be at a greater danger of harm.  In truth, by seeking help, you are making the first real steps towards a life free of fear and danger.  Our family law Solicitors are trained specifically to help victims of domestic abuse and will start by ensuring you and your children are safe.  At every step along the way, we will provide the guidance and support you need.  So many men and women have permanently escaped domestic abuse and violence and are now living normal lives free of worry; by taking action now, you can be one of them.

Bennett Griffin are award-winning Solicitors based in West Sussex. From our office in central Worthing our experienced and specialist Solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered, and practical manner. Our family law department can advise and assist you to seek protection from domestic abuse.  Please contact us on 01903 229 999 or by email at info@bennett-griffin.co.uk for more information.

Please note this article does not constitute legal advice.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/22-million-for-projects-to-support-domestic-abuse-survivors

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/mind/international-mens-day-2018-shocking-statistics-need-know/