As we have entered into a further period of at least 3 weeks ‘lockdown’ with the continued restrictions in place requiring everyone to ‘stay at home’, it can be a frightening time for anyone who is suffering domestic abuse.
If you are experiencing physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse or being intimidated or threatened by a current or previous partner, you are being subjected to domestic abuse.
The Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, Dr Marsha Scott, when discussing the impact of the current pandemic on domestic abuse, has expressed her concern about the increased opportunities for those who are already abusing to control and coerce to a greater degree by way of ‘micro-managing families’. Abusers often restrict victims in relation to who they talk to, when they eat, when they sleep, when they go out. In these difficult times there are fewer opportunities to connect with friends and family, go to school, and to escape from an abusive environment.
The UK and Scottish Government have launched campaigns to highlight domestic abuse during ‘lockdown’. It is important that anyone affected by domestic abuse, knows where to get help.
Police Scotland have confirmed that they will treat domestic abuse cases with the same seriousness and urgency as they did prior to the pandemic. If you dial 999 and are unable to speak but need emergency services, if you then press ‘55’, the operator will put you through to the police who will know that you are in need of help.
In Scotland, you can contact Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage helpline: 0800 027 1234 or email . Assistance is offered regardless of age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or background. Staffed by specially trained workers managed by Scottish Women’s Aid, who work in partnership with the men’s advice line, the helpline will provide advice and support. They can also direct you to other support services available to assist in your particular circumstances.
Helplines offered by Scottish Women’s Aid (0131 226 6606) remain open 24 hours a day during the pandemic. Glasgow Women’s Aid can be contacted on 0141 553 2022. Crisis support services can be accessed, and refuge accommodation may be available.
Emergency protective legal orders can be obtained from the courts despite the current restrictions. In criminal cases bail conditions may prevent an abuser returning to the home.
The Scottish civil courts are still presently able to deal with urgent cases.
- An interdict is a court order that prohibits an individual from doing something to you, or directs a person to stay away from you, your children or a specific place. If necessary, a power of arrest can be attached to an interdict.
- An exclusion order suspends the right of a married person, civil partner or cohabitee to live in the family home.
Our experienced family solicitors are able to offer you more information on protective orders, and legal aid. Lynne Collingham, an accredited specialist in family and child law, has 30 years’ experience of dealing with domestic abuse cases and can be contacted by email at this time - . Please know that you do not need to suffer in silence and that help is available.