Domestic Abuse Awareness month
October is most commonly known as ‘spooky season’ but it is also domestic abuse awareness month. The purpose of recognising this annually is to raise awareness about the signs of domestic abuse, how to report abuse and most importantly to encourage individuals to speak up.
It is alarming that 2022 saw a 7.7% increase of reports of domestic abuse. According to The Crime Survey for England and Wales 2022, there was an estimated 2.4 million reports of domestic abuse that year, of which 1.7 million were women and 699,000 were men.
Domestic abuse is a crime that is often hidden, with the victims too afraid to speak up and terrified of the consequences a report to the police will bring. Many individuals who report domestic abuse to the police, will often be met with more abuse which results in many victims withdrawing their original complaint. It is important to realise that domestic abuse is not always physical and is often financial and emotional, which is why the term domestic violence was replaced with domestic abuse. The Law recognises that emotional and financial abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse.
What can I do if I suspect someone has a history of abuse or if I think someone is being abused?
Generally speaking, many perpetrators have a history of domestic abuse and are likely to have either convictions for abuse, or have been reported to the police for the offence in the past. If you are in relationship where you have concerns about your partner, then you can make a Clare’s Law application to the police. The police will thereafter undertake the necessary steps to investigate your application and if appropriate will disclose information to you. This is incredibly important as if you are then aware that this individual has a past you can make informed decisions to protect yourself.
A lot of people do not wish to get involved in other people’s relationships, often thinking that they do not want to interfere or cause any issues, however, by speaking up you could save someone’s life. If you think someone is in an abusive relationship then you can also make a Clare’s Law application and if it is appropriate, the police will contact the person you suspect is in an abusive relationship and will make the necessary disclosure.
I am in an abusive relationship; how can I protect myself?
The first step you need to do is report the matter to the police. This may be very daunting and scary but the police are there to protect you and will provide you with the necessary support you need, including relevant referrals for support and/or therapy. Reporting the matter to the police does not only protect you, but it could protect the next victim who may well make a Clare’s application and discover the extent of the individual’s history.
There are also several applications that we at BTMK can assist you with to ensure you are protected. The first is an Occupation Order. These Orders can assist in removing the perpetrator from the family home for a specified period. The Order will prohibit the individual from returning to the property. A power of arrest can be attached to the Occupation Order, meaning that if the individual breaches the terms of the order and attempts to enter the property, then they can be arrested as a result.
The second is a Non-Molestation Order. This is an Order preventing an individual from harassing, intimidating, or pestering you and can also prevent an individual from encouraging a third party to harass, intimidate or pester you. Again, this is for a specified period of time, however, breach of this order is automatically a criminal offence, and the individual can be arrested for breaching the terms of the order. We at BTMK understand how difficult these cases can be and how much strength it takes to speak out about abuse and take the necessary steps to regain control of your life. We are here to support you and take you through the process to ensure that you are protected and can then begin to rebuild your life.
Jaime-Lee Johns – Solicitor – BTMK Family Law Team
Tel. 03300 585 222