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Since we wrote a blog about the impact of Coronavirus on Domestic Abuse, there have been further developments in relation to this which have recently been announced by the Police.
New guidelines which have been further released set out when and why someone can leave home. This now includes moving to a friend’s address for several days to “cool off” following an argument at home. This will come as a welcome relief to most, especially those who are vulnerable in the lockdown circumstances. For some people, staying indoors can be suffocating, especially after an argument with family, friends or the people you live with. This new guideline will provide some respite and prevent disputes or potential tense situations from escalating and enables individuals to mitigate any risk posed to them. However, a move between households will only be acceptable if it is a genuine move for several days and not a matter of hours.
During these times we have referred several clients for Mediation to see if such issues can be resolved. Mediation is still running and to some extent is more successful if clients have concerns about being in the same room together. Mediation companies are still able to deliver mediation services remotely and sessions as well as MIAM’s (Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting) are being conducted via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp Video, Facetime Video and where appropriate via telephone. Mediation can still proceed and can be successful if domestic abuse has played a part in a relationship. A Mediator will initially assess whether your matter is able to proceed after discussing this with you in detail. Mediation is a process that helps people sort out the issues that often arise as a result of the breakdown of a relationship, this can include improving communication, dealing with arrangements for children or reaching a financial settlement. It is different than the Court process or using a Solicitor to negotiate on your behalf as you are in control of the overall outcome and the Mediator is a neutral third party who does not take sides. This is one of the reasons that the Mediator cannot give you any legal advice, however they can provide legal information and guidance, allowing you to find a solution to your problems that is satisfactory to both parties.
Even though steps are being taken to try and combat issues surrounding Domestic Abuse, further concerns are arising which have not been as prevalent before. This includes Revenge Porn. The lockdown has caused a surge in the number of people experiencing intimate image abuse. This is another way in which an abuser can still impose control even if you are not isolating with your partner or ex-partner. Stress, job loss, extra time, and increased use of the internet and social media as well as heightened emotions can all aggravate pre-existing abusive behaviour and coercive control and therefore you can find yourself experiencing such a situation even though you are not physically with that person.
It has been reported that over half of cases reported since lockdown to the Revenge Porn helpline have clearly originated in an abusive or controlling relationship. Such situations can cause a great level of distress and fear.
If you are a victim of intimate image abuse, you should firstly keep evidence, make a record of what has been posted on line. You then need to report the photos or video to the website if this is possible and also inform your friends and family.
People should be assured that the Courts are still running with remote hearings where necessary to resolve such situations.
If you have any queries then please contact our family department on 0114 220 2186.