The recent Rob and Helen storyline involving a pregnant Helen stabbing Rob hit the headlines and highlighted just how much victims of domestic abuse will put up with before it’s too late.
The most important message in this blog is that domestic abuse is not just physical; it can come in many different forms. But no matter what form the abuse takes, there is help available.
What is domestic abuse? There is no perfect definition, but the NSPCC sums up most of the important points:
“Domestic abuse is any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship. But it isn’t just physical violence – domestic abuse includes emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse.”
Domestic abuse or domestic violence can take place in the heat of the moment or over a period of time. In the Archers storyline, it started in February 2014 with Rob refusing to eat what Helen had cooked him. For the next two and a half years, Helen suffered in silence whilst Rob tightened his grip over her by constantly putting her down, telling her what to wear and generally making her feel hopeless. Helen was pregnant with Rob’s child whilst this was going on.
Is it the same for you?
Does this sound familiar – and if it does, who can you turn to? There are some great local agencies in the South West that can help. These include Splitz, Devon Domestic Abuse Services and SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone). They can offer you emotional support and financial support such as help with benefits and housing claims.
Remember, domestic abuse is a crime. The use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter has only increased the way in which victims are abused. Harassment should be reported to the police. If they can’t step in, then a solicitor like The Family Law Company can help you to seek an injunction to stop the harassment. Remember to keep copies of any harassing messages because you may need these later on to show to the police or as part of any court proceedings.
Controlling or coercive behaviour
‘Controlling or coercive behaviour,’ no matter whether you are male or female, is a new offence which the government has introduced. This can include intimidation, humiliation and stopping someone from socialising with family or friends. Again, this sort of behaviour is wrong and it is a crime which can be prosecuted.
Controlling or coercive behaviour stops short of actual physical violence. Any physical violence is a crime. The police can help for example by giving you some breathing space by imposing bail conditions to keep someone away from you and your family. Support workers from some of the agencies mentioned previously will guide you through any police investigations.
If you feel that no one is listening or the police are not able to help, please do not suffer in silence. Domestic abuse is not clear cut and The Family Law Company is here to help. Our team of experts works closely with local domestic violence agencies and together we can explore the possibility of injunctions keeping someone from you and your family as well orders allowing you to stay in your home. In the case of an emergency, we can apply for a court order without the other person even being there.
Providing that you qualify financially, you can still get legal aid for issues involving domestic violence. Even if you don’t qualify, your initial appointment is always free.
If you require further information or advice in respect of this or any other family matter, please contact our solicitors in Exeter on 01392 421777.