There is no specific offence of ‘domestic violence’; however, the term can be applied to a number of offences committed in a domestic environment. The domestic nature of the offending behaviour is an aggravating factor because of the abuse of trust involved.
Victims will know and often live with, or have lived with, their abuser. There may therefore be a continuing threat to the victim’s safety, and in the worst cases a threat to their life or the lives of others around them.
Domestic violence can inflict lasting trauma on victims and their extended families, especially children and young people who may not see the violence or abuse, but may be aware of it, or hear it occurring.
Young people may also suffer domestic abuse in their own intimate relationships and not be aware that what they are experiencing is abusive behaviour.
Victims of domestic violence, particularly those who have suffered over considerable time, will have difficult decisions to make that will significantly impact on their lives, and the lives of those close to them. As a result, some victims may not want to go through the criminal justice process, preferring to make use of civil remedies and other safety and support mechanisms.
Domestic violence is likely to become increasingly frequent and serious the longer it continues, and result in death in some circumstances.
Cases involving domestic violence can be very difficult to prosecute, and will require sensitive and careful handling, taking into account the victim’s family circumstances, cultural or religious beliefs and other factors such as sexuality, mental or physical disability, or poor health etc.
Support needs for victims should be identified from the outset and continually considered throughout the life of a prosecution case.
Improving a victim’s safety is key and also helps to raise their confidence in the criminal justice system, facilitates their participation in the prosecution and the overall criminal justice system.
Providing accurate and up to date information to the victim throughout the case, and careful consideration of any special measures requirements are all important factors for prosecutors to consider. To ensure that this happens, close working with the police to gather and present the best evidence at court is therefore essential.
Regular liaison with Independent Domestic Violence Advisers [IDVAs] (where in place), Witness Care Units (WCUs), and voluntary sector, support organisations, is recommended to ensure the victim’s safety and support needs are properly understood and addressed. This will also assist prosecutors with receiving regular updates about a victim’s situation to inform the prosecution’s next steps; similarly, police and prosecutors should keep all linked support services updated with actions taken.
If you wish to speak to one of our Family Law Team about any aspects of Family Law, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have offices throughout Lincolnshire and Newark