Lockdown has been introduced by the Government to keep us safe from the spread of coronavirus. But what if being at home 24/7 is one of the most dangerous places for you and your family?
Often, victims of domestic violence find sanctuary in school or their place of work, but with the recent Government restrictions on our movements that came in to force on 28th March 2020, many victims of domestic violence will be trapped at home with their abusers.
It is important to highlight that the government regulations, The Health Protections (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 detail very clearly reasonable excuses to allow anyone to leave their home during lockdown. The reasonable excuses of particular assistance to victims of domestic abuse at this time are as follows;
(h) To fulfil a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to
participate in legal proceedings;
i) To access critical public services, including (iv) services provided to victims (such as victims of crime);
m) To avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm.
The PSNI want to reassure all victims of domestic abuse that even during lockdown, help remains available to them. The ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign enables a 999 caller who is too scared to speak, to press 55 when prompted to inform police they are in an emergency.
The local domestic abuse charities still remain operational and wish to assure any victims of domestic abuse they are still here to help and support them.
A 24 hour Domestic & Sexual Abuse Freephone helpline, managed by Nexus NI, is open to all men and women affected by domestic and sexual violence. The helpline number is 0808 802 1414.
Women’s Aid NI provides support and services for women and children experiencing or have previously experienced domestic violence in Northern Ireland. Details of your local group can be found here;
The Men’s Advisory Project in Northern Ireland supports and male victims of domestic abuse and their services can be accessed here;
Despite the current lockdown, the courts in Northern Ireland are open for any victim of domestic violence seeking the protection of a Court Order by way of a Non Molestation Order and Occupation Order. You can find more details on the orders available here;
At Edwards & Co we are proud to have attained the Workplace Charter on Domestic Violence which provides businesses with essential advice and practical training to help and support victims of domestic violence.
Our family law team is dedicated to helping all victims of domestic violence. If you need help, wish to seek the protection of a Court Order, or just need to be signposted to services available to you at this time, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 028 9032 1863 or email Carla Fraser directly.