1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence
1 in 6 men will experience domestic violence
“It’s my fault”
“They were upset”
“They didn't mean to”
These are some of the statements commonly used by people experiencing domestic violence. When you love someone who is abusing you, you have been manipulated to believe that it is all your fault and it is easier to take the blame upon yourself, rather than admit to yourself and others that your partner is an abuser. However, how would you feel if you were to discover that your partner had a violent history where other ex partners suffered in the same way you are suffering? Would it help knowing that it wasn't just you?
In 2009, Clare Wood, 36, was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home. Clare was unaware that Appleton had a history of violence towards women and had used different aliases to prowl social media and online dating websites in search of partners. Clare was found six days after her death, hanged in a derelict pub in Salford, Greater Manchester.
Clare’s father, Michael Wood, believes that, had she known of his history, she would have ended the relationship much sooner and perhaps, would still be here today. Clare's father campaigned for something to be done and in 2012 a pilot scheme was introduced in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent known as Clare’s Law.
Clare’s Law has now been extended across the whole of England and Wales, which means that men and women throughout the country have the right to ask for information on whether or not their partner has a sexual or violent history.
How will this help me?
If you are concerned that your partner has a history of being abusive, under Clare’s Law you have the Right-to-Apply to the police for information on your partners past. It is not guaranteed that you will be given the information that you request, but you do have the right to ask.
Right-to-Know - in certain circumstances, the police can proactively disclose information. This right is not one which you can request and the police are not obliged to disclose the information. They simply have the power to disclose the information in prescribed circumstances.
Knowledge is power!
Clare’s Law provides survivors of domestic violence with the information that they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy. This is not to say if you discover your partner has a record that you must end the relationship; it’s simply a way of allowing you to make an informed decision about whether or not you ought to stay or leave.
They have a history, what do I do?
One of the main concerns with Clare’s Law is that once the history is discovered, the victim could be at more risk than before. It is more common for serious violence (and even homicide) to occur during the separation or when you try to leave. It is extremely important that if you do want to leave that you have an Action Plan in place. See Womens Aid Safety Planning Guide or Men's Advice Line.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Domestic Violence Protection Orders introduced by the Crime and Security Act 2010, gives the police the power to put in place protection for the victim in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident. These Orders prevent the abuser from returning to a residence and from having contact with you for up to 28 days. This allows you the breathing space that you need in order for you to properly consider your options. The Domestic Violence Protection Orders has two stages:
- Where the police believe that your partner has used violence against you or that you are at risk of future violent behaviour, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on the spot.
- The magistrates’ court must then hear the case for the Protection Order itself within 48 hours. If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days.
For support and advice on domestic violence and abuse, use the Refuge helipline - 0808 2000 247