I am sure that you are all aware that we are on day four of the United Nations ‘Orange the World’ campaign – sixteen days of activism starting on November 25th with the ‘United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Abuse Against Women.’ Or UNiTE for short. And this year the venerable Ban Ki-Moon said that the colour to wear in order to show support is Orange!
Now, compared to much of the world we in the UK are very very lucky. However, the 2010/11 British Crime Survey estimated that 7% of women had experienced domestic abuse in that year. And that equated to 1.2 million women.
The same Survey suggested that for those women, and, indeed, for the men that suffered domestic abuse too, whilst around 27% suffered physical abuse, the most common type of abuse was non-physical.
And this is where we need to pass on the word, enlighten, and perhaps Orange-ify (my word) our friends and family. In fact you may not even know that your friend, or even you, would be classed as suffering from it.
The Government recently extended the definition and it is now what all of us use, including the Police and the Courts and it is:
“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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:
And the definition of ‘controlling behaviour’ is:
“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.”
Keep going please – the definition of coercive behaviour is:
“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.”
Ok, so there is a lot in there, and this is not a light-hearted piece, but please read it carefully. We need the abuse to stop. As the Saatchi/Nigella incident shows, abuse is at all levels of society and it is wrong and it is a crime. The starting point is a report to the Police. Dial 999.
For some the Police isn’t the way forward, and that is where we Lawyers come in. One of the ways that we can help is to get an emergency order from the Court to protect them and their children. The Order, commonly called an injunction, can often be obtained within 24 hours and can exclude the abuser from the house and area, and even from schools and anywhere else that may lead to the abuser to come into contact with the victim or any children. Orders can last for months if not years and a breach leads to arrest by the Police, and it is one of the few areas that Legal Aid still exists for.
So please do your bit for the Orange-ification (yep, that’s mine too) of the World and for UNiTE and pass this information on.