Domestic abuse comes in many forms – what is being done to support victims?

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A recent report from the BBC shows that domestic violence killings have reached the highest level in 5 years, and that in 2018, 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides –  a rise of 18.5% on the previous year.

This does not come as a surprise to me, nor does the fact  that a significant number are caused by a partner, ex- partner or family member. In my experience as a family solicitor, domestic abuse affects many clients, and in some cases, the victim is unaware that the treatment they are being subjected to is abuse from which they can seek protection.

Abuse takes many forms.  Physical abuse is somewhat easier to detect than non-physical forms, but it doesn’t make the latter any less serious.

In 2018, IBB commissioned independent research into domestic abuse and found that 25% of people were not aware that controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships became a criminal offence in 2015.

The Government conducted a public consultation on “Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse” in 2018 and the resultant response, and Domestic Abuse Bill was published in January 2019.  The Domestic Abuse Bill makes several proposals including:

  • To establish a legal definition of ‘domestic abuse’ which will include economic abuse, psychological, emotional or other abuse, and it is proposed that this could be behaviour which consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.
  • to prohibit cross-examination in person in family proceedings in certain circumstances
  • to establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner (Nicole Jacobs was announced as the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner on 18 September 2019).
  • to provide for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order

The Domestic Abuse Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons on 16 July 2019 but made no further progress whilst Parliament was suspended. Given the ruling of the Supreme Court on 24 September 2019 that the decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, we are very interested to see how the Bill now progresses.

In the meantime, if you believe that you or someone close to you is suffering abuse and cannot obtain protection through the police, please do contact us so that we can advise you in relation to obtaining protection through the Family Court.

Contact IBB’s family law experts today

IBB Solicitors’ family law practice provides expert advice for high-net-worth individuals in divorce cases involving assets ranging from £2m to £10m; pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreementsco-habitation agreements and pre-civil partnership agreements; and representing children in private law cases in disputes involving parental alienation, contact and residence arrangements following the breakdown of parental relationships. To contact the family law team please email familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk or call 03456 381381.