Abusive relationships are everywhere
Even in Lymington and the New Forest they lurk - but help is at hand
In the aftermath of Christmas and for the next in our series of "Life Matters" articles, the Family Law team from Lester Aldridge raises the raw subject of abusive relationships and offers some constructive advice for anybody who is suffering from this invidious crime.
Life Matters for Lymington with Lester Aldridge
Spare a thought for the women and men suffering in silence at Christmas and all year round.
As most people over the Christmas holiday enjoy the opportunity to treat their loved ones with gifts and kindness, others are not enjoying what should be a special time of year and instead are suffering in silence.
Abusive relationships are in our midst, even here in Lymington and the New Forest.
How do abusive relationship even happen?
Many abusive relationships begin with love, affection and compliments which can then deteriorate into suspiciousness and insecurity, often leading to mistreatment and disrespect, controlling behaviour and at the extreme, physical violence. But controlling behaviour even without violence can be insidious and you may well have spotted instances of it.
If you suspect you know someone in this situation do encourage them at least to read this article, the latest in the “Life Matters” series from Lester Aldridge Solicitors.
Christmas can be a trigger
There are many factors at this time of year which can affect relationships, such as high expectations, stress and financial pressure. These can all lead to a relationship becoming abusive.
The most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales (released November 2018) showed little change in the prevalence of domestic abuse in recent years. In the year ending March 2018, there were 2 million sufferers of domestic abuse and women were more likely to be the target with 1.3 million female and 695,000 male victims. (It's interesting to note how many victims are in fact men.)
Police recorded almost 600,000 domestic abuse related crimes in the year ending March 2018 which was an increase of 23% from the previous year. This rise may, in part, be explained by police forces improving their identification and recording of domestic abuse incidents and an increased willingness by victims to come forward. But we know that this issue is not going away.
What constitutes domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse includes any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. This can be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Physical abuse is an intentional act causing injury or trauma to another person by way of bodily contact such as hitting, pulling hair or kicking.
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, man or woman. It's never right to be forced into any type of sexual experience that you don't want, whether you are in a relationship with that person or not.
Emotional abuse can be difficult to recognise but can be just as damaging and upsetting to a person as physical or sexual abuse.
Sometimes people mistake jealousy and possessiveness as signs of love. It may even seem flattering at first. Controlling behaviour, economic abuse such as withholding money, emotional blackmail, criticism and intimidation and threats are all harmful forms of emotional abuse.
It’s how the person feels that counts
Whether behaviour is classed as abusive will depend upon how it makes the person feel. If your partner’s behaviour makes you feel small, controlled or as if you’re unable to talk about what’s wrong, it’s abusive. If you feel like your partner is stopping you from being able to express yourself, it’s abusive. If you feel you have to change your actions to accommodate your partner’s behaviour, it’s abusive.
Take the first step - recognise the situation
The first step in getting out of an abusive relationship is to recognise the abuse and realise that you have the right to be treated with respect and not be physically or emotionally harmed by another person.
A solicitor specially trained in the subject is the first port of call
If you think you may be experiencing domestic violence or you are at all concerned for your safety, or the safety of your children, family solicitors can take fast and effective legal steps that can protect you. The first step is to seek advice so that your solicitor can provide you with the guidance suitable to your situation.
If you think you know somebody who is in this situation do refer them to this article and its advice.
Free consultation with a specialist family solicitor from Lester Aldridge
Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London and Bournemouth; the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station.
Their specially trained team of family solicitors all based in Bournemouth have deep experience in these matters and will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information.
This web page includes information about and contact details for the three Family Law Partners with Lester Aldridge Jane Porter, Joanne Clarke and Rosemary Sharp (also pictured here). You are welcome to call or email any of them in the first instance.
A totally free, confidential and no commitment initial consultation is then offered. This can take place at the welcoming Lester Aldridge office or by phone, as you prefer. At this stage you are invited to discuss the specifics of your situation, and then take things from there if appropriate.
Other sources of help and advice
As well as legal support, you should confide in someone, such as a member of your family or a friend or health provider and get help from a counsellor or therapist. Let them support you and help you end the relationship and stay safe. If you have been physically harmed, get medical attention or call the police.
You can contact the following for further help and support:
- National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247
- The Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327
- Relate at www.relate.org.uk
Life Matters for Lymington with Lester Aldridge, December 2018