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Covid-19 and Domestic Violence in a Lockdown

THE GLORIES of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookèd scythe and spade
(From “Death the Leveller” by James Shirley 1596-1666)

These words of James Shirley (1596 – 1666) resonate loudly as we ponder the by-products of a pandemic that rages through our community. Like death, the Corona Virus has laid its icy hands even on royalty and statesmen. It has shown no respect for person, family or status and relentlessly invaded the inner sanctum of society and from the highest to the lowest.

As certain as it is that the pandemic spares no one, it is equally true that the severity of its consequences are cushioned by the circumstances of individuals. As legal practitioners in a sensitive jurisdiction – a therapeutic jurisdiction at that, where human relationships are central to outcomes, we cannot help but give anxious consideration to the circumstances of our clients trapped in troubled relationships during these anxious times.

Somewhat like the Corona Virus, conflict in human relationships spares no one. No matter what you wield – be it sceptre and crown or poor scythe and spade, you could be a candidate for domestic strife in pressured situations if you are not super vigilant. It doesn’t take much for the escalation of emotions and a seemingly benign domestic situation to spiral out of control, especially when your family is in one way or the other experiencing the Corona related stressors such as the closure of your business, loss of employment, cash flow issues, mortgage and rental pressure and a myriad others.

In a bid to arrest the spread of the pandemic, governments have implemented a policy of social distancing and self-isolation. If you are a victim of Domestic Violence, you may well be in a lockdown with your abuser. How safe are you in such an environment? Are you even able to make a discreet call for help?

A Women’s safety group in NSW reveals that 40% front line Domestic Violence workers are experiencing increased calls for assistance and 70% of the calls are more complex than the average during the pandemic.   This means more cases and an escalation of violence and abuse. The CEO of the same organisation revealed that victims are experiencing difficulties in accessing support services due to the impact of the pandemic. With social distancing and self- isolation requirements, most services have switched to online or over the phone. The sheer volume of callers has resulted in congestion and over loading of the lines and urgent cases not receiving the desired assistance.  Among the types of urgent assistance requested of the Federal government are funding for emergency accommodation for victims fleeing from abuse and training and support for specialist law enforcement personnel and for trackless phone technology. Another factor fuelling the higher than usual incident rate is the financial instability occasioned by unemployment and the increased use of alcohol and drugs during social isolation.

It may be too early for pandemic related Domestic Violence data to be made available. However, the unfortunate indications are a huge spike that could mean a severe detrimental impact on our community.

We at McNamara Law have put the following measures in place for our clients who need our assistance during this critical time.

  1. A devoted hotline which you may ring 24/7 for direction and advice.
  2. A circle of care comprising of a Life Coach, Social Worker and Psychologist to whom we would refer you with no reward or payback in it for us.
  3. An Initial consultation for 30 minutes free of charge with one of our Ipswich Lawyers experienced in Domestic Violence matters.
  4. Urgent preparation and lodgement of your Court documents and appearance in Court where required for clients who retain our services.
  5. Efficient resolution of Domestic Violence proceedings.

Speak to us today on (07) 34832051 our dedicated family law hotline.

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