With the festive season fast approaching, police forces across the country are preparing for an increase in the number of reported incidents of domestic abuse.

Of course domestic abuse can happen and does happen any time of the year; however research shows there is a strong link between pressures of family, money and increased alcohol consumption at Christmas with domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse affects men, women and children.  According to the NSPCC ten adults a day contact their helpline as they are worried about children living in a home which is “dangerous or risky”.  This is a 75% increase in calls over the last five years.  Last year alone there were 940,000 domestic violence incidents reported to the Police in England and Wales, one in five of those cases the victims admitted their children saw or heard the attack in their home.

According to the office for National Statistics, in 2015 most offences are reported by women.  They estimate that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are the victim of domestic abuse.

We are all familiar with the term domestic violence.  Most would understand that to be physical assault between those in a familial setting, however the term domestic abuse has a much wider definition.

The Home Office defines domestic violence as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those who are aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional”

It is important to stress that coercive and controlling behaviour is acting in a way that makes the victim feel inadequate, subordinate and dependent.  The aim is to isolate the victim from family and friends by regulating their everyday behaviour. This can include threats of humiliation, intimidation, control of social media, dictating what a person can wear or where they can go, and surveillance through apps.

Coercive or controlling behaviour became a criminal offence on 29th December 2015 when the Serious Crime Act 2015 came in to force.  Section 76 defines the implication of this type of behaviour, it causes the victim to fear that violence will be used against them on at least two occasions, or causes them serious alarm or distress which has a substantial effect on their usual day-to day activities.  The College of Policing describes coercive control as the most “high risk form of domestic abuse”.  The perpetrator exerts almost complete control over the victim’s life.  This can lead to longer physical and psychological injury.

Sadly, these statistics do not reflect to true extent of domestic abuse.  Many incidents are not reported by the victim.  This can be because they are too frightened to speak out, they fear the repercussions, they have no where to go, particularly, but not limited to, if the victim is male, maybe too embarrassed to report the violence. Some victims feel trapped in a relationship as they fear they may have their children removed from their care if the authorities are involved.

Domestic abuse is not acceptable and should not be tolerated regardless of the circumstances.  Our specialist team at Farleys are experienced advising and assisting victims of all types of domestic abuse. If you are the victim of any type of domestic abuse do not delay seeking help.  We have offices in Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley and Manchester, contact us to see how we can help you.