With the latest Government guidance sending the message of ‘staying at home’ in a bid to fight the virus, for many the danger is not only what is outside. The Office for National Statistics reported that 1.6 million women and 786,000 men were the victims of domestic abuse in the year ending March 2019. It is anticipated that figure will rise as the COVID-19 situation continues.
Domestic abuse is not always physical. Abuse can be psychological (including threatening and coercive behaviour), emotional, financial or sexual. There have been warnings that self-isolation has the potential to ‘aggravate pre-existing abuse behaviours’ and that spending concentrated periods of time together could potentially escalate the threat of abuse. The lockdown restrictions are likely to not only increase domestic tensions, but restrict the ability for victims of abuse to leave a potentially dangerous situation.
It has been reported that in Scotland there has been a 20% reduction in the contact made to charities offering support, in comparison to England. It is not fully understand why there is a difference, but it may be attributable to individuals being worried about seeking support or from a lack of awareness of the support services that are available.
Measures are being put in place in a bid to assist those suffering from domestic abuse. In some instances, postal workers and delivery drivers are on the lookout for signs of abuse. The message that is being conveyed by the Scottish Justice Secretary is ‘You are not alone’.
We want to emphasise that. There are legal measures to combat domestic abuse. Despite the present ‘lockdown’, our solicitors are still available to speak to and to assist you in seeking appropriate urgent court orders. The courts are still accepting urgent actions seeking protective orders, such as an interdict, or exclusion order, or a non-harassment order.
Our family team can discuss your circumstances with you in complete confidence, and support you through the process of making an application for a protective order. Legal aid cover is available, subject to financial eligibility. We have extensive experience in dealing with domestic abuse cases, including those that also require to consider the protection of children.