Last month we spoke about the sort of behaviour that is regarded by the law as domestic violence and how to bring the problem to the courts if no other solution is available.
Let’s just recap.
Domestic violence is one of the great social ills. It can wreck lives and destroy relationships and families. Its effects are felt not only by victims but also by perpetrators. Research has shown quite clearly that children who witness domestic violence suffer emotionally and that they are likely to have difficulties in their own adult relationships.
Domestic violence is not only physical abuse: it also occurs when one person forces him/herself on another, physically, verbally, sexually or in any other way by threats or intimidation. The legal definition is:
“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
It is just as much an act of domestic violence of one partner threatens the other so that he/she is in fear of what might happen as if actual violence has been used. It is domestic violence if one partner imposes him/herself sexually on an unwilling partner. It is particularly important that men understand that, if there is no proper and willing consent between sexual partners, that amounts to domestic abuse and violence, even if the parties are married.
Similarly, a partner who uses financial pressure can be committing domestic abuse. This can occur, for example, when one partner threatens to withdraw financial support, or actually does so, as a way of trying to persuade the other partner to do what he/she wants.
Domestic abuse also occurs where one partner uses emotional pressure to try to compel the other partner to do or not to do something. This might occur, for example, where one partner threatens another that he/she will tell her mother, or the children, about something in her past which they had previously agreed should not be mentioned.
It is now well established that it is very harmful for children to witness domestic violence, even children who are teenagers. It places children in an impossible position between their parents and has the potential to destroy or at least distort their concepts of a loving and supportive relationship. It is a sad reality that children who grow up in a household where domestic violence occurs are far more likely to bring that sort of behavior to their own relationships in adult life.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence or know someone who has been and all efforts to deal with the situation have failed, then it is likely that there is something that can be done.
Our practitioners are experts at identifying abuse which fulfils not only the requirements for legal aid but is also likely to qualify for a court order. If you feel that you would like to discuss the options that might be available to you, please contact us for a confidential preliminary assessment.
Rosie Bracher: Specialist Family Law Solicitors 01271 314904