“It’s not always physical abuse, it can also be sexual and emotional. It’s controlling money, it’s controlling who you can be friends with, it’s controlling who you can speak to and who you feel you can speak to as well. You feel like you have no one. It’s horrible.” says Kelly in The Abuser on Channel 5 last night.
How would you describe ‘domestic abuse’?
Dealing with those who have suffered domestic abuse is not just another day in the office for us at The Family Law Company. We see the victim at their most vulnerable, having to re-live the abuse they have been through or are still going through.
We hear the victim say things like “I felt stupid, embarrassed”, and feeling worried that no-one will believe them. Sometimes the victim may not actually realise that they are in an abusive relationship. They may not see that constantly checking their whereabouts, controlling their friendships or an occasional name-calling can escalate to actual physical violence.
It takes great strength for victims to come forward, to call 999, to report the abuse, to seek help, to realise and admit to themselves that they are in a domestic violence relationship. We can only hope that they reach for the phone before it is too late.
How can we help you if you are in such a relationship?
We will discuss with you the best way forward to gain you protection from your abuser. This may mean that we go to court the same or next day, without the abuser’s knowledge. We can apply for a Non-Molestation Order for you and, if necessary, for your child. This is an order to protect you from violence, the threat of violence and harassment. Violation of this Order is an arrestable offence and if found guilty of the breach they may be liable to a term of imprisonment and/or a fine.
Another remedy we can apply for is an Occupation Order. This is where one party is ordered to leave a property and not to return. Disobeying this Order is not a criminal offence, but the police will make an arrest if the Order is disobeyed and will bring the matter before the Judge in the Family Court.
If the abuser does not show up to court on the return the Judge can still make an Order in their absence.
If they do decide to appear before the Judge and deny the abuse, and do not agree to a Non-Molestation Order being made against them, the Judge will schedule a final hearing where they will decide whether the Order should be made. This will possibly involve the obtaining of further evidence, if there is any. Do not worry if there is not – often in cases of these types there may be little independent evidence.
We understand how daunting this can be but we will be there to guide you through each step, and screens can be requested for any hearing where the abuser will be. We can also request that the abuser will not be allowed to question the victim; instead they will have to direct their questions to the Judge.
If you are affected by some of the stories in last night’s show or are a victim of domestic abuse, please feel free to contact us in confidence on 01392 421 777. Alternatively think about contacting your GP, a trusted friend or a specialist domestic abuse charity such as SPILTZ Support Service (https://www.splitz.org/devon.html or 0345 155 1074) or North Devon Against Domestic Abuse (http://www.ndada.co.uk/ 01274 321 946) who will be able to offer some assistance.