The World Cup and Domestic Abuse

Category: Children, Domestic Violence

Kirstin Sibley
By Kirstin Sibley

No doubt many of you have seen the “Not-So-Beautiful Game” campaign which shows a disturbing image highlighting the correlation between reported domestic abuse incidents and the games played by England during the World Cup. The World Cup is an incredibly exciting time and fortunately, the majority support the games with harmless enthusiasm and patriotism. However, with any high profile matter, there is a darker side which should not be ignored.

Reports of domestic abuse incidents increase by 26% when England play a game and 38% when England lose a game according to a study conducted by Lancaster University in 2013. Whilst perhaps a dated study, it has been proven time and time again there is a correlation between the two. Domestic abuse is blind to gender; both men and women are victims of domestic abuse and children are often exposed to the behaviour which is incredibly damaging and harmful.

Domestic Abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour between those 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.

Sometimes it is difficult to recognise abusive behaviour, particularly when it has become normalised as a part of everyday life. Domestic abuse is incredibly damaging and it can be extremely tough to break away from a relationship where domestic abuse features often overwhelming individuals with anxiety and fear as to how their partner will react. It is important that those suffering are aware that there is a great deal of support available to assist in recognising and challenging abusive behaviour whilst empowering those who have suffered to overcome their experiences. Additionally, it is important that those suffering are aware that there is protection available through the police and the Court process where necessary.

The Court condemns all forms of domestic abuse and has a wide range of powers at its disposal to ensure protection is provided when required. For example, the Court can make a non-molestation order or an occupation order also commonly referred to as “injunctions”.

A non-molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner or former partner from intimidating, harassing, pestering or using or threatening violence. This order is made to protect you, and any children, by prohibiting the above behaviour. The Court has the discretion to include provisions within the order preventing contact and prohibiting a person from coming to your home or within a certain area, for example, children’s schools. The terms of the order are tailored to the individual circumstances so as to ensure the correct level of protection is afforded.  A non-molestation order carries an automatic power of arrest so if the person subject to the order breaches the terms they could be arrested and face a term in prison and/or pay a fine. A non-molestation order is commonly made for a term of 12 months however this term can be extended and, in certain circumstances, an order can be made without a recorded expiry.

An occupation order is an order regulating the occupation of the family home which, in many cases, results in one party benefitting from exclusive occupation of the property. This can provide victims with the safety of living at home to the exclusion of their former partner and provide many with the space and safety they require for a period of time in which they can seek additional support and advice about how to move forward. When considering whether to make an order the Court apply the “balance of harm test”; the Court must consider the impact on each party if they were made to leave the family home and then conduct a balancing exercise as to who would suffer the most harm if they were made to leave. Again, an occupation order is tailored to the individual circumstances and, whilst not in all cases, is often a temporary measure to afford an individual and (if applicable) their children protection until the longer-term issues are resolved.

If you feel you are suffering in an abusive relationship or are still suffering from a former partner’s behaviour despite having separated, please do contact us at Nash & Co where one of our family law specialists will be able to advise, assist and support you through the legal framework to ensure you are afforded with the protection you and, if applicable, your family need.