6th April 2023

Technology and Domestic Violence

You may be aware that domestic abuse comes in many different forms and whilst this may manifest as threatened or actual violence whether physical or sexual, there are many other patterns of behaviour that constitute abuse including coercive and economic control, and psychological abuse. The Government has defined domestic abuse as “any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”.

This means that in a relationship there can be many ways in which one person might abuse another and not always in the most obvious ways. For example, making the provision of money conditional, constant criticism of a person, denigration of that person in front of others, making them feel that it would be wrong to do things for themselves or to be remotely independent can all be abusive. When in a long-term relationship, it may be difficult to recognise patterns of behaviour as these can become the norm and it is important to remember this may not be just a partner, but this also includes other family members. People who are suffering from such behaviour may take time to realise the extent of what is happening and will need support and kindness to see their way through.

However, if they do manage to leave the relationship what might happen next? It is not always the case that the party left behind takes the situation in their stride and abuse can continue after the relationship ends. This can manifest in friends being given intimate information to embarrass the party concerned, rude and threatening text messages being sent and inappropriate comments on Facebook posted. Whilst one might expect some sort of initial emotional fallout which may be possible to manage if this escalates beyond acceptable levels, it must be taken seriously. In some cases, parties may be watched or followed, the perpetrator may turn up at a place of work or outside their home, threats may be made. If there are children in the relationship they can be caught in the cross fire and almost certainly will bear the brunt of their parents’ criticism of the parent who left the relationship. In some cases, it may not be safe for children to see their parent and supported visits may be considered.

Of concern is the fact technology now offers many opportunities for abuse and it is important to be aware of this. Social media can allow a platform for improper grievances to be aired.  If a party has sent intimate photographs, these could be inappropriately shared. Video footage has been released all in an effort to undermine the party concerned and to make them more vulnerable. There have been cases where email addresses have been accessed, passwords bypassed, and parties have found their personal data exposed.

At Buss Murton we will take matters seriously, there are civil remedies available to you under the Family Law Act 1996. We can assist you with an application to the Family Court for a non-molestation order to protect you from harassment and abuse and an occupation order if you need, safely, to return to your home. Please call our Margaret Sculpher at our Cranbrook office to discuss matters remembering that we offer a free 30-minute no obligation initial appointment.

Margaret Sculpher

Margaret Sculpher
Associate Solicitor & Mediator