Domestic Abuse: A Pandemic within a Pandemic

There are some 2.3 million victims of domestic abuse a year aged 16 to 74 (two-thirds of whom are women) and more than one in ten of all offences recorded by the police are domestic abuse related. 

We have seen non-stop reports of how domestic abuse sky-rocketed in and amongst the revolving door of the Covid-19 lockdowns, which were sadly fatal for some men and women trapped within the confines of their home. Furthermore, domestic violence increases 26% when England play and 38% if they lose. 

New Domestic Abuse Act 2021

The purpose of the Act is to raise awareness and understanding of domestic abuse and its impact on victims, to further improve the effectiveness of the justice system in providing protection for victims of domestic abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice. The act also strengthens the support for victims of abuse and their children which can be provided by other statutory agencies.

A few of the most poignant changes that the Act brings include:

  • Extending the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship to cover post separation abuse; 
  • Extending the offence of disclosing private sexual photographs and films to cover threats to disclose; 
  • Making it clear that a victim cannot consent to the infliction of serious harm for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification;
  • Recognises that children living within domestic abusive households are also survivors of domestic abuse. 

The Definition of Domestic Abuse

The rise in reporting of domestic abuse has correlated with the rise of cases brought to solicitors and progressed through the courts. This is due to the increasing awareness campaigns around what constitutes domestic abuse; and the innovative reporting mechanisms now becoming open to some women.

Society and our legal framework have inevitably widened their interpretation of ‘domestic abuse’ in the last several years to reflect the reality that has plagued survivors. A reality that has seemingly gone under the radar due to the abstract nature associated with controlling and coercive behaviour and the ‘fog’ of confusion it can generate for those who have seen it as part of their lives for too long.

behaviour is now considered “abusive” if it consists of any of: physical or sexual abuse; violent or threatening behaviour; controlling or coercive behaviour; economic abuse; psychological, emotional or other abuse.

It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.

 1. Domestic Abuse Act 2021: overarching factsheet– GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 2. National Centre for Domestic Violence

Non-molestation orders

Non-molestation orders are a protective injunction that can be applied for to prevent harassment from perpetrators of domestic abuse. The application of non-molestation orders (NMOs) have become more prevalent against the backdrop of a surge in domestic violence during the pandemic and the Euro’s 2020. 

Such orders can be made without notice to the perpetrator if necessary to protect victims of domestic violence from the backlash of applying. 

New Protections

The new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices (DAPNs) and Orders (DAPNOs) under the new Act aim to give survivors immediate protection and impose positive requirements on a respondent. They can be applied for in civil and criminal courts and are helpful in the pursuit of the protection of survivors of abuse.

If you feel you are the victim of domestic abuse and require help protecting yourself or your children, please contact Terri Leigh – Family Lawyer at Naughtons Solicitors on 0191 5006050 for a confidential discussion. 

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