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Abused by my girlfriend is a powerful and emotional documentary which aired on BBC, detailing the years of abuse Alex Skeel, a young man, suffered at the hands of his girlfriend, Jordan Worth. Doctors advised that Alex was just days away from death when he finally felt able to open up to the Police and confirm that it was his girlfriend who was abusing him. In April 2018, Jordan was given two seven-year sentences for grievous bodily harm and wounding with intent. In addition, she was the first woman in the UK to be sentenced for controlling or coercive behaviour.

Throughout his horrific ordeal, Alex was burnt with boiling water, stabbed and slashed with a knife and hit with a hammer, amongst other things. Jordan also isolated Alex from his family and friends by changing his number and phone, taking over his Facebook account, removing his play station and making sure that he had no money. Alex had a job initially which he enjoyed, but Jordan forced him to quit because she said it was not good enough. Instead, Alex was forced to attend University with Jordan every day as she did not trust that he would not go back home to his mother and wider family.

Alex recalls that he stayed in the relationship and did not report the abuse because he thought it would blow under the carpet. He also thought that if he left, Jordan would turn her abuse on the two children they shared together.

In the first months Alex comments that everything was fine and they did normal things together like watching films and going for walks. However, looking back, he now realises the subtle warning signs that were present in the early days of their relationship. For example, Jordan would say "I don’t like the colour grey" so Alex chose not to wear grey or "I don’t like your hair like that", so Alex styled his hair differently because he wanted to impress Jordan. Over the years, the abuse and controlling/coercive behaviour gradually became more and more severe.

The documentary reinforces that not all males are abusers and not all females are victims. There is no such thing as one type of victim. It hopefully will encourage more male victims of abuse to speak out and get the help they require. The latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, show that in the year ending March 2018 an estimated 2 million adults, aged between 16-59, experienced domestic abuse. Of those 2 million people, 695,000 were male victims.

There are many reasons why people are afraid to speak out and get help. One of the reasons we commonly come across, is that the victim is scared of what the abuser will do to them if they find out that the victim has sought help. Under the Family Law Act 1996, a victim may obtain a protective injunction order known as a non-molestation order. If the victim requires urgent protection, then this order can be obtained from the Court without the abuser knowing. If the order is granted, it will then be served on the abuser and will be in full force and effect. If the abuser breaches the order, then the Police do have the power to arrest that person. The non-molestation order could contain provisions including but not limited to preventing the abuser from being violent towards the victim and children of the family, prohibiting the abuser from coming within 100m of the victim's home and place of work and preventing the abuser from communicating with the victim.

Another reason why people may not find it easy to seek help for domestic abuse, is because they fear what will happen to the children if they leave. The abuser may also threaten that the victim will never see the children again. Being brought up in an environment where there is domestic abuse is harmful to a child, even if you believe the child is not witnessing the abuse. It can devastating impact on the development of that child as he/she grows up. Typical behaviour can include bet wetting, temper tantrums and difficulty sleeping. Older children may begin to play truant from school, start to use drugs/alcohol or have mental health problems. If you have parental responsibility for a child, you have a duty to protect and safeguard that child from harm. If you have concerns about the risk of harm to the child, then you should contact social services. In addition, pursuant to the Children Act 1989, applications can be made to Court, including on an emergency basis where you are concerned for the safety of the children.

If you, or anyone you know, is a victim or at risk of domestic abuse, then please encourage them to speak out. At Ramsdens we understand that seeking help can be daunting and we will sensitively guide you throughout the process at a pace that you are comfortable with. We offer a free initial 30 minute consultation where we will also undertake an assessment to see whether you are eligible for Legal Aid. Further, we will also consider whether there are other organisations or professionals within your local area who may also be able to assist you with things including housing, counselling and benefits and will provide you details of such relevant organisations.

If you would like to speak with a member of our Family team then please call us on 08000 147720, send us an email or text LAW to 67777 to book a free information session at any of our offices across Yorkshire. We also offer early morning and late evening appointments across our offices.