Domestic Abuse at Christmas
Christmas is a time for happiness, joy and celebration for lots of people. However, it can be a time of fear and sadness for many people as a result of domestic abuse.
Increased domestic abuse at Christmas
Each year, there is an increase in reports of domestic abuse over the festive period. This is often due to people drinking more alcohol, families experiencing more stress and pressure and families spending prolonged periods of time together.
This increases the risk posed to victims of domestic abuse. In turn, this also increases the risk to children by virtue of them witnessing domestic abuse or experiencing it themselves. A recent change in the law has meant that a child who sees, hears or experiences the effects of domestic abuse perpetrated by a relative is classed as a victim of domestic abuse themselves. This emphasises the devastating impact domestic abuse has on a child’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
What is defined as domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse has recently been defined, in law, as any behaviour which is abusive between two people who are personally connected to each other and are over 16 years of age. Behaviour can be abusive if it consists of any of the following:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Violent or threatening behaviour
- Controlling or coercive behaviour
- Economic abuse
- Psychological, emotional or other abuse
What can be done to keep families safe over Christmas?
In light of the increased risk of domestic abuse over Christmas, there are a number of things that can be done to help keep people safe:
- Speak to trusted family or friends and create a ‘safety plan’ for if things start to go wrong. This could include planning to stay at a friend’s house for a few days or being able to contact a friend who can seek help for someone else if necessary.
- Seek support from domestic abuse support services. There are a wealth of services, both local and national, that provide support over the festive period and all year round. Refuge run a national abuse helpline who can be contacted via telephone or webchat. For males experiencing domestic abuse, the men’s advice line can be contacted via telephone or email.
- Talk to an experienced Solicitor about legal orders, such as a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order. A Non-Molestation Order is a legal order which prevents a person from behaving in an abusive matter and protects the person applying for the order. An Occupation Order is a legal order which regulates who lives in a property to ensure that a victim of domestic abuse is safe.
- If there is an urgent or imminent risk of danger, we would advise that the police are called via ‘999’. If someone finds themselves in a situation where they are in danger and cannot speak, you can call ‘999’ and respond by coughing or tapping on the handset. You can also press ‘55’ on the handset, if calling from a mobile, which will transfer your call to the police after dialling ‘999’.
Please read our main domestic abuse page to find out more practical information such as how to apply for an injunction, view a video on the support our team can provide, FAQs, understand Legal Aid and meet the team who will be able to help you.
At David Gray Solicitors, we have an experienced, knowledgeable and professional team who are well-prepared to provide urgent advice in relation to domestic abuse. We have a rota which is in place daily to ensure somebody experienced is available to provide same day advice at short notice. Legal Aid is also available for advice, subject to assessment. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 232 9547 and ask for our client relations manager, Louise Law, for further advice and support.