For many, October marks the start of the speedy race towards Christmas, a time of year which should be filled with love, happiness and spending time with the family
In America, October marks the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Whilst this campaign is not currently replicated In the UK in October, it is important to remember that not everyone will be looking forward to the festive period.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that during the year to March 2018, 2 million adults aged between 16-59 experienced domestic abuse. This figure equates to 6 in 100 adults being the victim of abuse, with women being two times more likely to be a victim.
It is important to recognise that domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence, but in fact covers a range of abusive behaviours that lead to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional harm.
On 29th December 2015, coercive control became an offence. Coercive control takes many forms but essentially leaves victims with a sense of fear that pervades their everyday life. It includes but is not limited to behaviours such as:
- Isolating victims from their friends and family,
- Monitoring their victim online,
- Controlling what a victim wears, who they spend time with, where they go, and when they can sleep.
- Gaslighting – manipulation which leads victims to feel as though they are “going crazy”
Whilst 1,198,094 domestic abuse-based offences were reported to the police in 2018, only 50% of these proceeded to arrest.
This statistic combined with the recent news that Domestic Violence related homicides are at there highest level in 5 years has led Victoria Atkins, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, to state that;
“these cases are a stark reminder of the devastating impact of domestic abuse and we are determined to do more to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice”
What can be done?
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, commonly known as Clare’s Law was brought into effect in March 2014 and allows individuals in a relationship (or worried third parties) to ask the police whether their partner has a history of domestic abuse.
Applications can be made to Durham Constabulary via telephone on 101 or via the Northumbria Police website.
Applications are assessed by a panel and information disclosed, if it is reasonable and proportionate to do so. Across 40 forces surveyed, 57% of the applications they received led to a disclosure being made. This disclosure will provide individuals with the ability to make informed decisions.
Any incident of domestic abuse should be reported to the police so that it can be fully investigated. However, the majority of abuse goes unreported with many victims living in fear of the repercussions if they do so.
If a victim is too afraid to contact the police, there are family law injunctions which can be applied for to offer them protection, these are known as Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders.
- A Non-Molestation Order prohibits a perpetrator from contacting a victim by any means. If such an Order is breached it is a criminal offence.
- An Occupation Order defines/regulates the rights of occupation of the home, which is often shared with a perpetrator.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone, irrespective of their gender, age or background. No one should live in fear and no one should be the victim of abuse.
If you are in an abusive relationship and need help, support and advice please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team on (0191) 384 2441 for a confidential discussion. In addition to this help and support can be found on the following websites: -