Divorce and Domestic Abuse


Domestic abuse is a serious issue that needs immediate attention and action. Separating from an abusive partner is the start of a challenging and difficult journey. That’s why victims need support from all areas of society, from lawyers and police to friends and work colleagues.

Divorce solicitors have supported many clients looking to separate from their abusive partners. Unfortunately, this will likely happen after months or even years of them suffering from domestic abuse. It’s estimated that a domestic violence victim will suffer 35 assaults before calling the police.

Domestic abuse is something occurring around us unseen every day. In 2019, a survey by ONS found 2.4 million adults aged 16-74 experienced domestic abuse over a calendar year. With 1.6 million women and 786,000 men were found to have been affected. According to the non-profit organisation Living Without Abuse, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will suffer from domestic abuse in their lives. Domestic abuse also accounts for 16% of all violent crime.

These are disturbing statistics, so, how do we help people who need support? One way for a victim to seek help is by approaching a divorce solicitor. They can help with the separation process, advise a victim on their legal rights, and help ensure they’re safe.

What is Domestic Abuse?

It’s also important to understand that domestic abuse isn’t only physical violence. This is the latest definition of domestic violence and abuse from the British government:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.” They then provide a list of examples that domestic abuse can include but is not limited to:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

The definition of controlling or coercive behaviour can be difficult to recognise in day-to-day life. Here is how the UK government defines these two acts of domestic abuse:

Controlling Behaviour – “A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.”

Coercive Behaviour – “An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

Noticing Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is a broad term that covers many forms of mistreatment, not only physical violence. Even if it’s hard to notice, it’s still extremely damaging to the victim. That’s why it’s important to know the common characteristics of an abusive partner and how a domestic abuse victim feels.

For example, many divorce solicitors have supported clients with highly controlling partners, as the abuser restricts contact with friends and family. Domestic abuse victims will also feel extremely anxious in their home. This is because they don’t know what behaviour will incite a reaction from their abuser.

These situations can cause the victim to think they have provoked the abuser and the abusive partner may use the victim’s behaviour to justify their actions. Even with innocuous incidents such as not closing a door behind them. That’s why it’s so important to understand that domestic abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Another common feeling among victims is embarrassment. They may not want to admit that they have suffered domestic abuse, and their partner is abusive. Often, speaking to a divorce solicitor is the first time they explain what has happened to them.

A victim of domestic abuse can also find it more difficult to report it if they’re male. This is because of societal perceptions, such as domestic abuse only affecting women. The feeling of being judged is something that makes seeking help difficult for all victims, no matter their age or gender.

Divorce and Abuse

Divorce and abuse are both difficult to seek help about. Being able to separate from an abusive partner, whether you’re married or not, is extremely tough and challenging. Speaking to a divorce solicitor is a big first step to take. That’s why it’s important to have an empathetic, trustworthy divorce solicitor who will listen to their client. Someone who will offer advice on all options and help to build their client’s confidence before they make any decisive decisions.

A divorce solicitor can also walk a victim through the separation process. If an abusive partner has controlled a victim’s contact with their friends and family, they can advise on how to re-establish a connection safely. It’s important for a victim to have as much support as possible; family and friends can provide that support.

Abusers may also threaten their partners to discourage them from leaving or reporting them. These threats could be financial, emotional or of physical violence against family members. A divorce solicitor is someone with experience in dealing with these threats. They can advise on the best course of action and, most importantly, ensure everyone’s safety.

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, there is support out there. For confidential divorce solicitors in Buckinghamshire, contact B P Collins solicitors.

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