Domestic Abuse & COVID-19: You Do Not Need To Stay With Your Abuser
Domestic abuse is a serious social problem. Even the most cursory internet search reveals sobering figures. The Office for National Statics recorded that there were 1.3 million female victims, and 685,000 male victims of domestic abuse in 2018.
The COVID-19 pandemic is another serious social problem, and government around the world are announcing a series of lockdown measures, as health services struggle to cope.
On 23 March 2020, the Prime Minster announced such measures would be introduced in the UK. On the 26 March, these measures came into effect. Amongst other things, new laws prevent everyone leaving their home, save for certain limited exceptions. Anyone leaving their home without such exemption is liable to a fine.
Statistics from around the globe show that lockdowns cause the number of reports of abuse to have risen, as people become “trapped” with their abuser. UK charities have expressed concern that the same will happen here.
So what does the law say?
To give them their full title, the Public Health (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 provide that:
“During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse”
“a reasonable excuse includes the need—“
“to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.”
Therefore, leaving home to escape from injury is permissible. It is also important to note that leaving to avoid a risk of harm is also permissible. Harm does not have to actually have to have taken place.
If you genuinely believe you are at risk of harm, this law will protect you.
Domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can include coercive control, sexual abuse, financial abuse and verbal abuse. Harm can include both physical and mental harm.
The Government has published guidance on this issue, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-and-domestic-abuse/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-victims-of-domestic-abuse. The guidance contains links access to organisations that support victims of domestic abuse.
In addition, courts still continue to function, and continue to be make able to make orders restraining abusive behaviours by partners, as well as making orders concerning access to property.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, then you can leave your home to seek protection. Our solicitors will be able to advise you on the steps to take to seek the protection on the court if necessary.