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We are extremely pleased that the Bill is reaching its final stages, particularly given the sharp increase in domestic abuse brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. National lockdowns have seen domestic abuse victims trapped with their abusive partners and unable to escape. Before the pandemic, an incident of domestic abuse was reported every minute in England and Wales. In the first three months of the first lockdown, Refuge reported a 66% rise in its helpline calls. It has also been reported that 1 in 5 crimes reported to the police during covid lockdown have involved domestic abuse (meaning there were more than 250,000 domestic abuse related crimes between March and June 2020).
The Domestic Abuse Bill will provide a statutory definition of domestic abuse (which does not currently exist). The definition shall include economic abuse which is hugely important, as research has shown around 16% of all UK adults have experienced this form of abuse in a relationship.
The Domestic Abuse Bill will also bring about changes to the experience of domestic abuse victims in the Family Court, as there shall be a statutory presumption that victims are eligible for special measures in the criminal, civil and family Courts. Abusers will also no longer be able to cross-examine their victim at trial.
In addition to the measures in the Bill, the Government have also made non-statutory commitments, including investing in domestic abuse training for responding agencies and professionals and improving the awareness and understanding of coercive control offence.
Refuge, who are currently supporting more than 7,000 women and children every day, are calling for the Bill to go further and to make sharing intimate films and images (“revenge porn”) a crime and for migrant women experiencing domestic abuse to receive the support they require, regardless of their immigration status.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you are able to leave your home to escape your abuser or ask for help despite the current lockdown in England.
We are here to help. If you or someone you know is suffering domestic abuse, please get in touch with our family team who can provide you with the legal assistance and support required. If you are in immediate danger, call the Police on 999.
If you believe you or someone you know are suffering from domestic abuse, we are here to help. Please get in touch with our Family team in confidence by calling 08000 147720 or email email@example.com. We can provide assistance and obtain urgent injunctive orders for your safety and protection remotely via telephone or email and work closely with many local organisations offering help and support to victims.