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Domestic abuse, lockdown and the law

Domestic abuse, lockdown and the law: National research announced earlier this week revealed some tragic statistics on the impact of lockdown on those men, women and children having to self-isolate in abusive relationships and households.  

  • 16 people killed in the first three weeks of lockdown  – the largest number of killings in a three-week period for 11 years and more than double the average rate
  • A 49% rise in calls to abuse helpline, compared with average
  • A 35% rise in calls to Men’s Advice Line, in the first week*

So what can people who are trapped in abusive relationships in lockdown and what legal options are open to them? 

Domestic abuse during the lockdown

Highly experienced family lawyer, Sarah Jane Lenihan, Partner at the Stowe Family Law office in London joins us to look at how the law can help people trying to escape abusive relationships in lockdown. 

The statistics are shocking but not unsurprising in the circumstances but is the government’s response too little too late?

The government has acknowledged that despite recent measures the household isolation as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.  

However, there appears to be a lack of understanding as it is not quite as easy as the victims leaving and in many cases, they have nowhere to go. 

Campaigners are seeking that empty properties are opened up to allow those to flee and hotels are used for the overspill from refuges.  We wait and see what additional measures, if any, are put in place.

The law on domestic abuse during the lockdown

Those suffering should be aware that the police are arresting perpetrators and they will break down doors to protect victims.  

The family courts are open and family solicitors are able to obtain emergency injunctions to protect victims.  These hearings are taking place remotely and orders can be obtained without any notice to the perpetrators.  These orders can be obtained within a matter of hours of contacting a specialist family solicitor.

The lifeline to these people at present may be friends, family, neighbours, community members contacting the police as the victim not be able to.  

Campaigners are currently spreading the word to ask everyone to be vigilant.  If you are worried you can do something about it, contact the police as this may provide them with the lifeline they need. 

We may be in lockdown but support from all sectors including the law is there and accessible. For anyone trapped in an abusive relationship, please be assured that if you need it help is still there. 

Get in touch

If you are self-isolating in an abusive relationship and would like any advice on domestic abuse and your legal situation, you can find further articles here or please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist domestic abuse lawyers here.

Helpful contacts 

  • National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
  • The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327
  • The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
  • National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428
  • Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123

Please note that Stowe Family Law does not necessarily endorse the organisations listed.

*Source: Counting Dead Women Project, National Domestic Abuse helpline, Men’s Advice Line

Sarah advises on all areas of family law (divorce/dissolution, cohabitation, domestic violence, children) and has worked with a broad spectrum of clients both nationally and internationally.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Nobody should be made homeless during the pandemic. That overriding rule applies to tenants who can’t or don’t pay the rent – the landlord must suffer for the Greater Good – and it should apply here too. Unless the police are prepared to arrest an alleged abuser he must be allowed to stay put, because he is just as liable to get or spread the virus as the non-paying tenant.

    On a lighter note: “Campaigners are seeking that empty properties are opened up to allow those to flea” . . . I think you mean FLEE!

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