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(Un)happy families and Covid-19

Much of the advice coming from the Government of Jersey at the moment is an attempt to keep families as safe as possible in the current situation. However, there are fears amongst all of us who work in family law that increased isolation risks worsening the level and severity of domestic abuse.

Now the Island has gone into lockdown the risks to these families has increased. There are already plenty of examples from elsewhere in the world for us to expect that the rate of abuse and severity will increase.

At Viberts, our large and experienced family law team gives the following advice to anyone who is afraid of a domestic abuser or fears for one of their family members or friends in the current situation:

  • Remember that one of the key tools a perpetrator uses in ‘normal’ times is isolation. The steps necessary to fight Covid-19 will significantly increase the perpetrator’s opportunity to isolate the victim from family and friends;
  • Being isolated at home means that normal daily interactions, at say, the school gates, will be lowered. There will be fewer people to speak to who may pick up on signs of abuse;
  • Financial pressures heighten the likelihood of domestic abuse. These pressures will almost certainly increase over the coming weeks;
  • Being confined together in small spaces with potentially no outdoor space will also only increase the pressure;
  • Domestic abuse is not just physical it is often psychological. This could take the form of close monitoring of what money is spent on food and other essentials as well as checking on a victim’s mobile phone and social media accounts;
  • Anyone who is fearful MUST make a plan. Do not raise any concerns over social media unless you are absolutely sure the perpetrator does not have access to your phone or other devices;
  • Do not share your passwords with others in the household and try to keep your mobile phone with you as much as you can;
  • Finally consider having a safe word that you can send to a trusted friend or family member and agree with them that if the word is used who they should immediately contact.

Should wish to seek any advice please do contact one of the Viberts Family team who will not charge for the communication and will treat it with the utmost confidentiality.

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