Read what our Surrey consultant solicitor, Lewis Hulatt, of Major Family Law, the divorce and family law specialists says: Regular readers of this blog might say that I have ‘murdered’ the English language from time to time, but such violence is a serious business. Not living in Midsomer, from recollection, I can only think of two people that I have known who have been murdered. The brother of a school-friend was blown up by the IRA, his only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the other, Milly Dowler, was killed by a very nasty piece of work who seems to hate women.
Which brings me on to this week’s blog – domestic violence and abuse.
When the legislators announced that they planned to make domestic abuse a crime, my initial reaction was not to praise them for recognising the harm of systematically degrading somebody to the point that they cannot function independently. Instead, I worried that the definition would be so badly worded that ‘domestic abuse’ would be meaningless. People confide in me about the shame they feel for allowing themselves to be treated badly and when Legal Aid was freely available, as a newly-qualified solicitor I would regularly appear before the Magistrates and District Judges to urge protection for the abused. It was almost always granted as the protection amounted to a court order that for the most part threatened the abuser with punishment if he (more often ‘he’) continued with criminal behaviour. Whoopee.
And therein lies the problem: most domestic abuse amounts to criminal behaviour whether or not there is an injunction – assault, battery, ABH, wounding, GBH, blackmail, threats to kill, behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace – it was all criminal behaviour under existing law, so why pay a lawyer to persuade a Judge to tell somebody not to commit a crime? I have never been enthusiastic about that, but sometimes a warning from the Domestic Violence Unit of the local police service is not enough. Personally, I favour bail conditions as a means to discourage bad behaviour, but some people say that I have a defective money-making gene.
“Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them” by Dr Susan Forward was helpful to me in understanding the pattern of abuse.
Remember the saying “Where there is life, there is hope” as once recognised, domestic abuse can become a bad memory instead of an everyday fear.
The solicitors at MFL understand such problems.