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Domestic Abuse on the Increase during Lockdown

Posted: 05-01-2021

Lockdown has had a catastrophic effect for those living in an abusive relationship. Now that we are entering our third total lockdown it is now more urgent than ever before that the law around domestic abuse is reformed and awareness around this subject is highlighted.

Women’s Aid has reported that 2/3 of women living in an abusive relationship stated that the abuse has worsened during lockdown, and ¾ found it harder to escape the violence as a result of being trapped due to lockdown.  Added to this the COVID-19 restrictions have led to domestic violence support groups having staffing and finances issues, which has led to 85% of the providers who responded to Women’s Aid stating that they have had to reduce or cancel one or more of their services.

It must also be remembered that abuse covers more than physically being hit, as is traditionally believed. An abusive relationship may be one where one person is afraid of the other person’s reaction and as a result they change their own behaviour. They don’t go out, or constantly watch what they say and how they behave. They walk on egg shells.

Domestic violence happens to both men and women, however more regularly to women. According to Refuge 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime and the police receive a domestic violence call every 30 seconds. Two women a week are killed by their current or former partner.

These are the recognised forms of abuse:

  • Physical abuse – hurting someone physically, what we traditionally think of as domestic abuse. However it is not just hitting, but may be throwing things, or pinching and shoving.
  • Psychological abuse – Includes name calling, threats, manipulation, blaming the other person.
  • Economic abuse – controlling your access to money or resources.
  • Sexual abuse – this does not have to be physical. May be coercing someone into doing things they do not want to do.
  • Coercive control – when someone uses a pattern of behaviour over time to exert power and control over someone.
  • Tech abuse – when someone may send abusive text messages, or demand access to someone’s devices, track them with spyware, or share images of them online.

The Government reintroduced the Domestic Violence Bill to parliament on 3rd March 2020. This will introduce a statutory definition of domestic violence which will include all of the aspects above. It will also prevent alleged abusers cross examining witnesses and victims in Court, which further traumatises them. It will also place a duty on local authorities to provide support to victims and their children by providing safe accommodation and refuges.

We all eagerly await the new legislation.

Sousa Law are specialist Family Solicitors in Southampton, and we are committed to offering a helping hand during these difficult times. For further information or advice, please call us on 02380 713 060, or email book a free initial consultation with a solicitor.

By Nicole Biggs