The Scourge of Domestic Violence
By Alison Fielden & Co
The recent storyline in “The Archers” about the abusive relationship between the fictional characters Rob and Helen has had widespread coverage and has caught the imagination of many,. It is not difficult to understand why.
Despite many attempts to educate and reform those who might resort to abusive behaviour, it remains one of the greatest problems in domestic life.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse covers a wide range of types of behaviour which has an adverse effect on the person at whom it is directed. The Government defines it as
“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
Victims can be physically injured, sometimes seriously. There are more murders arising from incidents between cohabiting partners (married or not) than any other single category or group of people.
Even if the physical injury is not fatal, it can be serious and need medical treatment. In really worrying cases, the victim presents to the doctor accompanied by the perpetrator and attempts to cast a web of deception over the way in which the injuries occurred. Of itself, that is a form of domestic abuse with the victim placed in a position where all sense of free will has been removed.
Emotional or psychological harm
Many victims do not sustain obvious physical injury but are emotionally or psychologically harmed. The classic effects of controlling behaviour on the victim can include:
· A conviction in the mind of the victim that everything was her/his “fault”
· an unwillingness to believe or accept that the behaviour of the perpetrator was unacceptable and abnormal
· a removal of contact between the victim and her/his friends and family
· an increasing feeling of paranoia
· an inability to talk about the problem
Can children be affected by witnessing domestic abuse?
It is now well established that children exposed, even indirectly, to domestic abuse can be adversely affected. Indeed, social services departments often regard domestic abuse between parents as being one of the primary reasons to consider safeguarding measures for children.
It is not only the potential for physical involvement in the future which can harm children. It is also the fact that children who have seen parents behave in that way, can assimilate such behaviour into their own views of how domestic life is or can be lived. Thus there is fed a vicious and perpetuating circle of abuse extending from one generation to the next.
What can I do if I am a victim?
Most victims of domestic abuse feel ashamed, although of course nothing they have done can ever justify such a response from their partner. It can take much bravery on the part of the victim to take active steps for their own protection and that of the children.
Domestic abuse is a crime. The Police will take reports of such behaviour seriously. Whether or not a prosecution will follow usually depends on the evidence that is available.
Consult Alison Fielden & Co
There is a range of laws which are available to protect victims of domestic abuse.
These include the obtaining of:
· a family court injunction directed to the perpetrator ordering that behaviour to cease.
· an order requiring the perpetrator to move out of the family home
· an order preventing the perpetrator from entering into an area close to the family home, the work place of the victim or the school attended by the children
· an order preventing the perpetrator from removing the children from the care of the other parent except on terms set out in the court order
· an order regulating where the children are to live.
A breach of any such orders could lead to arrest and criminal conviction, with the possibility of a custodial sentence. Alternatively, the perpetrator could be sent to prison by the family court.
At Alison Fielden & Co both Heather Weavill and Steven Barratt have many years experience dealing with such cases, telephone 01285 653261, legal aid may be available.