Claiming compensation for domestic violence
Domestic violence used to be something which the police took less seriously, and while things have improved over the last 20 years, damning reports in recent years still highlight serious failings in the treatment of domestic abuse victims.
In today’s modern society, people are fully aware of the significant impact domestic violence can have on victims. Government statistics show that the clear majority of domestic violence victims are women, but it’s important to remember that many men and children are suffering in their own homes.
In 2015, the government released information that outlines the scope of the problem and what plans are being put in place to rectify it. The figures provided by the government claim that 1.4 million women were victims of domestic violence throughout 2014, but these are unlikely to be an accurate reflection because only an estimated 1 in 4 victims report domestic violence to the police.
Compensation for domestic violence
Seeking compensation for domestic violence can be the first step a victim takes towards getting their life back on track, and sending out a strong message that domestic violence and abuse cannot and will not be tolerated. Victims need to first consult a personal injury lawyer to obtain advice on whether the case is strong enough for a claim to proceed, and how they should go about pursuing the claim. Details of each case will determine whether the victim makes a claim against the perpetrator or whether a claim will be pursued through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
Domestic violence can be psychological
When people think about domestic violence, they typically consider it to be physical abuse. For many victims, however, it’s the psychological abuse that is causing the most pain and suffering, and this can take a very long time for victims to overcome, with many victims suffering from lifelong conditions such as anxiety and depression.
In December 2015, the law was changed to acknowledge the devastating impact psychological violence can have on a victim. Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created an offence of “controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship” to strengthen the powers of the police, prosecution and courts in combating domestic abuse, and protecting those who are trapped in an abusive relationship without having been physically assaulted.
What defines a relationship?
The relationship between two people has been defined as the following for legal purposes:
- Married or previously married to each other
- Civil partners or previously civil partners
- Agreed to marry each other (whether or not the agreement has been terminated)
- Entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated)
- Both parents of the same child
- Both have, or have had, parental responsibility for the same child
Long term effects of psychological domestic abuse
Psychological abuse can have a long-term influence on many aspects of a victim’s life, such as their ability to live an active and happy social and personal life, as well as cause a negative impact on their working life. In the worst cases, the victim can suffer from a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), of which symptoms can remain hidden for years. Sometimes the victim can suffer from the condition several months or even years later. PTSD is characterised by symptoms such as:
- Flashbacks and/or nightmares
- Emotional numbness
- Easily irritated and angered
Children and domestic violence
Children can suffer tremendously when exposed to domestic violence between their parents or guardians. The turmoil they often suffer can play a huge role on their well-being and development. The following statistics were gathered by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC):
- Around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse
- Domestic abuse is a factor in over half of serious case reviews
- One third of children who witness domestic violence also experience another form of abuse
- Children exposed to domestic violence are more like to suffer behavioural and emotional problems
- 130,000 children live in households with a high-risk of domestic abuse
Making a claim for a child
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 states that children under the age of 18 lack the capacity to make a compensation claim of their own, therefore a responsible adult is needed to act as a “litigation friend” for a claim to be put forward on behalf of the child. A personal injury lawyer will need to be instructed at the earliest opportunity.
In most cases, the claim needs to be pursued within 2 years of the original incident, but a claim on behalf of a child has a varied limitation and a claim can commence any time prior to the child’s 18th birthday. Once 18, a person who was a witness or victim to domestic abuse can pursue their own compensation claim, with the 2-year limit applying again.
It’s worth noting that many victims are hesitant about taking legal action against a perpetrator as they fear court appearances, but in many compensation claims where the evidence and injury are obvious, the case often never ends up in court as a compensation offer is usually made as soon as legal action is suggested.
If you’ve been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, then we recommend contacting a personal injury lawyer such as ourselves at Fonseca Law as soon as possible. Our caring team of personal injury solicitors have the legal knowledge and know-how to help you win any compensation you may be entitled to. To make a start on getting your life back on track, please get in touch today on 01495 303124, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into our Ebbw Vale based office in South Wales.