Victims of domestic violence should be allowed to keep their address secret when they appear in court, a campaigner has claimed.
Domestic violence survivor Eve Thomas was threatened with jail, the Telegraph reports, after refusing to reveal the address of her safe house during an appearance in the small claims court.
Thomas spent 21 years with her allegedly abusive ex-husband before eventually fleeing with her youngest daughter.
Later, however, she was summoned to the small claims court by a former friend over an unpaid debt. Despite the fact that the alleged creditor was a friend of her former husband and present in court, an official insisted that she announce the address of her safe house. Thomas offered to do so in a sealed envelope, but when it emerged that the person claiming the debt would be able to apply to see the address even if it was concealed, she refused to disclose it.
Thomas said: “It was so distressing but I was willing to go to jail to keep it a secret. There could be victims all over the country who have to publicly reveal in court where they are living, often in front of their abusers. This flaw in the law is putting victims and their children in danger.”
Campaigners have called for a so-called Eve’s Law, which would allow victims to conceal their address in court.
Domestic violence charity Refuge said hundreds of victims were regularly put a risk by being forced to reveal their addresses during court proceedings.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told the paper:
“The courts regularly handle extremely sensitive cases and have a range of measures to support vulnerable court users, putting their safety and security first.”
Insistence on an address in financial cases is subject to the discretion of judges, he added.