Stop the forced communication between domestic violence victims and abusers
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A recent case has been documented in the press and has sent a wave of disbelief. There needs to be a change in the law.
Abusers can demand that victims write a letter 3 times a year about their children. This causes a number of problems;
1) Victims have "triggers", resulting in depression, sometimes for months. Writing a letter to their attacker is an obvious trigger.
2) It allows the abuser to gain control, making the victim still be a victim.
3) It grants a way of communication for the abuser, thus putting the victim in direct danger of being lured back to the abusive relationship.
4) It is a reason for victims not to come forward. Seeing the court siding with the attacker on these issues will only discourage them.
In these cases, the justice system should be on the side of the victim. It will be a simple process to change this law from being a legal requirement to a choice.
Please help be a voice to taking this small step into giving victims more control over their own lives.
(Natalie Allman, pictured, is a victim who has been threatened with prison if she does not communicate with the attacker which subjected her to a 7 hour ordeal in front of the children he is demanding to hear about, courtesy of The Daily Mail). You can read more on Natalies individual case here http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mum-who-throat-cut-brutal-5164409#rlabs=6
I just discovered these Facts and Myths by Womens Aid - it outlines within the amount of forced communication is currently in the UK and also the affects of this.
FACT: Although there is no statutory presumption of contact, a pro-contact stance is implicit and decisions in leading cases have resulted in a strong assumption of contact by judges. The number of Contact Orders granted by the courts increased from 42,000 in 1997 to 61,356 in 2002, and over the same period the number of contact orders refused by the courts fell from 1850 to 518 - in 2002 only 0.8% of orders were refused (12). Only 9% of non-resident parents say they never see their child (13). MYTH: Contact is good for the child, even if it is with a parent who is violent
FACT: There is no evidence to show that contact with a violent parent is good for the child. It is the nature and quality of parenting by the contact parent that is important, not contact in itself, and where there is abuse, parental conflict or domestic violence, contact is extremely damaging to children (14). In 2000 a Court of Appeal decision (Re L) described domestic violence as 'a significant failure of parenting'. Children who have lived with domestic violence need support, safety and a stable environment to recover from its effects. Children's emotional and behavioural problems are associated with their relationship with their father. The more fear and anxiety, the greater the problems. The longer children are away from a violent father, the greater the improvement in adjustment (15). The value of contact and its quality is rarely examined. 16% of refuges in England and Wales say they know of local cases since April 2001 where a contact visit with a violent parent has resulted in a child being significantly harmed (16). Since 1999 at least 19 children have been killed during contact visits in England and Wales (17). MYTH: Children are not being placed at risk by court ordered contact
FACT: A recent report stated that there are 'serious concerns that contact is being inappropriately ordered in cases where there are established risks' (18). Since the introduction of court guidance on contact and domestic violence in April 2001, across England and Wales - at least 18 children have been ordered to have contact with fathers who had committed offences against children (schedule 1 offenders); 64 children have been ordered to have contact with fathers whose behaviour previously caused children to be placed on the Child Protection Register. 21 of these children were ordered to have unsupervised contact with the violent father. 101 children have been ordered to live with a violent father, often because he was living in secure accommodation in the former family home (19). MYTH: Law and court practice adequately listen to children's concerns about contact
FACT: 16% of refuges in England and Wales believe that appropriate measures are never taken to ensure the safety of the child and the resident parent and 13% say children are never listened to (20). 76% of children ordered by the courts to have contact with a violent parent were abused during contact (21). Domestic violence perpetrators often use child contact laws to track and stalk their victims after they leave a violent situation - this is when women and children are at most risk of homicide (22).
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