There has perhaps never been a more dangerous or frightening time for victims of domestic abuse trapped in lockdown with an abusive partner.  The Home Secretary has now clarified that victims of domestic abuse can leave home to escape their partners, or seek help, in an important exception to the Stay At Home Rules.

At the heart of domestic abuse cases, particularly those concerning controlling and coercive behaviour, lies the ability of the abuser to isolate their partner and prevent him or her from seeking help. The current regime of self-isolation including from friends or family outside the same household, whilst necessary to reduce the spread of coronavirus, will also impact on the opportunity for victims of domestic abuse to escape control and seek and obtain such help.

China saw a massive surge in cases of domestic violence during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown there, with the Twitter hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic trending in social media in China, and the police in this country have already reported a rise in domestic abuse since the coronavirus outbreak.

Civil legal remedies for domestic abuse include applications for non-molestation orders (breach of which is now a criminal offence) to protect against violence, intimidation and harassment including by electronic means, and occupation orders to oust an abusive partner from the family home. The Family Court (now operating largely remotely) is available to provide such remedies where necessary.