Domestic Abuse – Support during the Covid-19 lockdown
Note on Online Safety and Private Browsing:
If you are worried about your abuser keeping track of your online movements, the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline has guidance to keep yourself safe online, which you can find here - https://www.hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org/keeping-yourself-safe-online
The world is currently in an unprecedented state. The UK is in ‘lockdown’, meaning that people are not allowed to leave their home, unless for very specific reasons set out by the government. If you are living with someone who is abusive, you might feel especially trapped at the moment, but there are things you can do to keep yourself safe.
Advice during lockdown
The Home Secretary has confirmed that fleeing domestic abuse is an exception to the isolation guidelines. This is an invaluable confirmation, and you can go to a friend or family member in case you have to leave the home. If you cannot stay there you can call the police for assistance, or seek alternative options, such as a Refuge place.
The Govt have issued guidelines for Refuges to stay open and how to manage isolation in them.
The police have powers, even in a non emergency situation, under harassment legislation and also to issue Domestic violence Protection Orders to keep you safe.
There are civil family law protections available, should the police be unable to assist you to keep yourself safe. These protections are not just for partners, and can be used if you are being abused by others such as a grown up child, parents, or sibling.
A Non-Molestation Order will contain provisions prohibiting your abuser from assaulting or molesting you, and your children. Occupation Orders can make your abuser leave the house so you can remain, or return.
In order to make any such applications, an application form and statement in support is needed. These can be obtained for you by a solicitor, or by contacting the National Centre for Domestic Violence. A hearing can be requested to take place urgently, and without notice to your abuser. The Court are currently offering telephone/video link hearings, to ensure the safety of all during this lockdown period.
In Case of Emergency
First of all, if there is an emergency situation, and you feel your life or safety is at risk, you must call the police for assistance. Dial 999. If you dial 999 but cannot speak, the call needs to connect to an operator first who, if they hear no talking or noise, will put you through to an automated service which will ask you to press 55. This will put the call through to the police. It should be noted, though, that pressing 55 will not mean your location will be automatically tracked especially if you are using a mobile telephone.”
If you are not in immediate danger you can seek assistance from a variety of organisations by phone or online.
National Centre for Domestic Violence - https://www.ncdv.org.uk/
Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline - https://www.hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org/
Refuge - https://www.refuge.org.uk/
Herts Sunflower - https://www.hertssunflower.org/herts-sunflower.aspx
Welwyn Hatfield Citizens Advice - https://www.whcab.org.uk/cawh/
If you require assistance from a specialist family solicitor, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01707 329333 so that we can advise you on the safest way forward.