In the UK, approximately 1 in 5 adults aged 16 years old or older have experienced domestic abuse after turning 16. That’s 10.4 million people. Domestic abuse is a huge problem in the UK, and can affect both men and women.
The Government defines domestic abuse as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been in a relationship,’ or ‘between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’
In any case where an individual is dealing with domestic abuse, our first concern is always their safety. If you are in a situation where you or your children are unsafe, the most important thing to do is to get to safety. In the event that this applies to you, we can put you in touch with a specialist worker from a local refuge who can offer confidential assistance.
However, domestic abuse does not need to be physical in order to constitute a crime. In 2015, coercive or controlling behaviour – another form of domestic abuse – was criminalised. This legislation is designed to protect individuals against controlling behaviour which is not necessarily manifested in a physical way.
This may include emotional manipulation and financial control, and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine. Documentary evidence – such as threatening texts or emails and bank statements – may be able to be used as evidence for prosecuting suspects under the law.
What are my options?
Ultimately, the decision to bring legal proceedings against an abuser lies with the survivor – in this event, Beecham Peacock will be fully behind you. You can consult with us in total confidence to receive the help and guidance you need.
Each case is different. Depending on the nature of each case and the client’s preferred outcome, there are various different routes to explore. If your case goes to court, you may be expected to give evidence against an abuser. We will coach you through this process, but please be aware this can be difficult, both mentally and emotionally. It is your choice whether you feel prepared to give evidence in this way.
If your case goes to trial, your abuser could face a prison sentence, and could also be subject to a restraining order – which could help give you peace of mind for the safety of you and your children.
If you have received an injury as a result of crime or violence, you may be entitled to receive compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
For many people, the associated costs are a barrier to pursuing and receiving the proper help and support from solicitors. However, subject to a means assessment, you could be entitled to receive legal aid to help pay your fees.
Given the varied and often complex nature of many domestic abuse cases, we would always recommend speaking to one of our specialist domestic abuse solicitors to explore your options – contact our Newcastle office on 0191 232 3048.