Domestic abuse and the problem with evidence
A serious and ongoing issue for victims of domestic abuse is the problem with evidence. Let’s take Jack & Jill as an example (names picked at random). Jack and Jill were in a 3 year relationship and lived together for about 18 months before the relationship finally ended in December 2019. The problem was that Jack was controlling and violent towards Jill. Once the couple began living together and were locked into a rental agreement, Jack began to slowly tell Jill what to wear and whom she could speak to. This lead to Jack making Jill believe that nobody was there for her or cared for except for Jack himself. Jill was cut off from her family and friends. Jill was led to believe she had no choice but to stay with Jack. When Jill went out to the shops or to work, Jack would send her up to 20 messages throughout the day asking for constant updates about where she was and what she was doing.
Matters came to a head in June 2019 when Jill finally confronted Jack about his controlling ways. Jack struck Jill with a punch to her face, breaking her nose. Jill, shocked, ran and sought medical attention. However, Jack followed and took her to A&E where Jill convinced the nurse she was mugged. She was too afraid to tell the truth. Soon thereafter, Jill discovered that Jack had a drinking problem and hit Jill again whilst drunk and in a rage several more times. Jill finally had the courage to walk out of the shared home on 15th December 2019 to stay with her mother. Jack was not happy about this and began to follow Jill. He bombarded her with calls from private numbers which when Jill answered Jack would call her abusive names. The situation persisted until Jack came to Jill’s mother’s home, shouting threats at Jill and banging on the front door. When Jill was alone during the day, Jack promised to return and make her life a misery for leaving him.
Jill called the police. Sadly, they only arrived the day after the threatening behaviour took place at the front door. The police took a statement from Jill about the threats, and about the history of violent behaviour and control. By this time any physical injuries Jill sustained had already healed and thus there was no medical evidence. The abuse all occurred behind closed doors and there were no witnesses to the problems at Jill’s mother’s front door. The police told Jill that the verbal abuse alone was insufficient evidence to proceed.
The difficulty Jill faced was that the police needed to be satisfied that they could ultimately prove to a criminal court the guilt of Jack’s behaviour beyond reasonable doubt - essentially that there was no doubt at all that Jack committed these offences. Unless there was some level of certainty about this, such as an independent witnesses, admission of guilt from Jack, or evidence of injuries, the police were not likely to proceed to protect a victim like Jill.
However, there is another way. The Family Court only needs to be satisfied on balance of probabilities before making an order to protect Jill. This means that the court would take into account all of the evidence to make a decision whether it is more likely than not that Jill had been a victim of harm from Jack and was a victim of further harm.
Jill consulted her family solicitor who took full details about the history of the problems and risk of future harm. Jill was advised to ask the court to make a Non-Molestation Order for her protection from Jack to prevent him from contacting her in any manner, using violence against or threatening Jill. Jill was very worried that if Jack knew about what she was doing that he would escalate the harassment so Jill applied for and secured her Non-Molestation Order without notice to Jack. Jack was served with the order and Jill had immediate protection. If the order was now breached Jack would be arrested.
In summary, if the police and criminal justice system cannot help victims such as Jill, then the Family Court can step in. Hope is not lost. Victims like Jill deserve to live life without further fear or anxiety and people like Jack need to have their behaviour controlled. Where the police cannot help always speak to a family Solicitor near you to consider your options.
National Legal Service Solicitors - Domestic Abuse Solicitors and Family Lawyers in Birmingham
The Birmingham branch has grown from a modest team of 2 solicitors and 3 caseworkers to over 15 advocates, paralegals and support staff situated in the former Lewis’s Department Store building next door to Birmingham Family Court.
Over the last 18 months, Supervising Solicitor Jasbir Raindi and his team in Birmingham have helped more than 400 survivors of abuse in securing Non-Molestation and Occupation Orders for adults and children in need of protection along with Prohibited Steps, Child Arrangements and Specific Issue Orders, to help parents safeguard their children. Our team specialises in representing parents and children involved in public law proceedings and matrimonial disputes.
Our team of Family solicitors in Birmingham specialise in representing victims of harm and children at risk of removal in emergencies to secure orders without notice to the opponent, when such notice could place the victim at immediate risk. We offer full legal advice to those who qualify and we always consider this before providing information about our private fees.