If you are in an abusive relationship then you may think that during the coronavirus outbreak there is no help available and that you’re ‘’on your own’’. Although all this talk of self-isolation and social distancing may make you feel like that, the message from family law solicitors is that ‘’you are not alone’’. There is help available during the coronavirus outbreak if you are in an abusive relationship. In this blog we look at your legal options if you are caught up in an abusive relationship and need help to get out of it during the coronavirus outbreak.
Online domestic violence and family law solicitors
Although law offices may be closed because of Covid-19, Cheshire and Manchester based Evolve Family Law solicitors are working online to support those at risk of domestic violence needing help to leave an abusive relationship during the Covid-19 lockdown. If you need advice on aspect of family law call us on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference or telephone appointment.
Coping in abusive relationships during the coronavirus outbreak
If your partner is abusive towards you then it is difficult enough to cope when life is ‘’normal’’. For many the fact that partners are now either working from home or not able to work, and so are based at home full time, is particularly hard. There is no escape from home for you to visit friends or family or go off to work.
Tensions can also be increased by your partner’s health or financial anxieties about Covid-19, their lack of ability to go to the pub or to the gym to meet up with their friends and the presence of the children twenty four hours a day at the family home.
The government has said that it wants Covid-19 to bring out ‘’the best in us’’. That is a laudable aim but sadly domestic violence organisations and family law solicitors know that, for some families, domestic abuse may increase because of having to spend so much time with a partner. Alternatively, partners who haven’t previously been abusive may snap and either lash out or become very coercive and controlling.
When you hear that the police are cracking down on people leaving their homes it may make you reluctant to leave or seek help from domestic violence organisations or family law solicitors but, coronavirus or not, if you are in an abusive relationship you should seek help.
Those people who are contacting us about abusive partners are often reluctant to acknowledge the extent of the abuse and prefer to minimise some of the partner’s behaviour, especially if it falls short of physical violence and involves coercive control such as:
- Dictating what you can eat
- Saying when you can watch the TV and what programmes you can watch
- Checking your mobile phone or internet usage
- Restricting when or if you can go out for your daily exercise or for essentials like food shopping
- Forcing you to have sex
- Not allowing you any freedom within your house by insisting on being in the same room as you
- Listening into your phone calls to friends and family.
As the restrictions on the movement of people continues in force because of the Covid-19 pandemic the sort of coercive controlling behaviour that you could cope with when one or both of you were out working can become intolerable. However, there is help available.
Help if you are in an abusive relationship
The police, domestic violence organisations, the family courts and online family law solicitors are continuing to offer help to those trapped in an abusive relationship.
If you or your children are at risk of immediate harm then you should call the police. The police understand that the risks of domestic violence are increased during the current crisis. They may be able to arrest your partner. If the situation is so serious that you can’t wait for the police to arrive you can leave with your children as the authorities will accept that leaving an abusive relationship is an emergency and that is an exception to the requirement to stay indoors.
In addition to the police there are various domestic violence organisations who are open and available to help and offer support:
- The National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
- The Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327
- The Mix, information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
- The National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
- The Samaritans – 116 123
In addition to police and domestic violence organisation help the family court and domestic violence solicitors are open to help you if you need court protection in the form of an injunction order.
Injunctions against domestic violence during the Covid-19 outbreak
You may have read that most courts and public offices are closed. Whilst that is correct the family courts are open for remote emergency hearings including applications for:
- Non-molestation injunction orders
- Occupation orders
- Emergency child arrangements orders and other types of children orders to safeguard and protect children.
Therefore, if you are in an abusive relationship, there is help available from the family court. Don’t worry that you may not be able to get to see a family law solicitor. Even prior to the coronavirus outbreak many family law and domestic violence solicitors were used to taking instructions by phone appointment or video conference and used to conducting court hearings remotely.
That isn’t to say that things are a bit of a challenge but if you need help then both the court and family law solicitors are just a phone call away.
If you need protection then a family law injunction order may be your best option. There are two types of family law injunction order:
- A non-molestation order – to stop your partner from being physically violent or aggressive or verbally abusive or exerting coercive control over you
- An occupation order – to stop your partner from returning to the family home (if he/she has left but is threatening to return to the family home) or to make your partner leave the family home or to restrict him/her to certain parts of the family home.
The court and family law solicitors also recognise that you might need help if you are living with extended family and are being subjected to domestic violence or coercive control or that you may need help with your children and need the security of a children order, such as
- A child arrangements order
- A specific issue order
- A prohibited steps order.
It is often the case that people suffer in silence when they live with an abusive partner or they think that what they are coping with isn’t ‘’bad enough’’ to get help. Since the Covid 19 rules on restriction of movement have come in many have thought that they are trapped in an abusive relationship for the duration of lockdown. Domestic violence organisations, the police, courts and family law solicitors are saying that domestic violence and abusive behaviour isn’t right in any circumstances and that if you need help then call.
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