The coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic impact on the lives of everyone, with enforced changes effecting peoples' work and social life across the country. In particular, the necessity to remain at home is taking a toll on many of us.
One of the major concerns with the lockdown is the potential for an increase in the prevalence of domestic violence. Clearly, the risk of such an increase cannot be underestimated.
Couples where tensions were simmering prior to the lockdown are now finding themselves together more often, increasing the risk of potential conflict. Already, there are reports from charities that there has been a surge in activity since social distancing was introduced.
Fortunately, the Government has responded to the concerns with the launch of a new public awareness campaign under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone. Announced on April 11th by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, the campaign is encapsulated by its slogan:
"- At Home Shouldn't Mean at Risk -"
On an emotional level, the campaign seeks to encourage support of victims, by encouraging the public to share a photo with a heart in the palm of their hand.
On a practical level, an advertising campaign has begun this week to highlight to victims the various sources of help available to them and various support materials are available at charities and other outlets such as supermarkets. Additionally, the Home Office has announced its intention to provide funding of £2m specifically to charities dealing with domestic violence, on top of the £750m of additional funding already promised by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to support the charitable sector. Further support is available via a 24 hour helpline service provided by Refuge.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse please call the freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline
The campaign follows the guidance already provided by the Government that the "Stay at Home" rules do not apply if a victim needs to leave the home to escape domestic abuse. Domestic violence charities are also continuing vital work to keep shelters open for victims seeking safety.
Outside of the Government campaign and the various support available, victims can still apply to court for an injunction, known as a "non-molestation order", under the Family Law Act 1996. The purpose of the injunction is not just to prevent violence, but all manner of behaviour that may intimate the victim. Breaching a non-molestation is a criminal offence and the perpetrator can potentially be imprisoned for up to 5 years.
The Family Court has designated domestic violence applications as one of the few case types that will be prioritised during the lockdown.
Dutton Gregory is committed to supporting the Government's domestic violence campaign.
Our Family team are here to support you, with significant expertise in domestic violence applications.
Please get in touch and do not suffer in silence.