The outbreak of COVID-19 is placing an unprecedented amount of stress on families and relationships, with tensions rising as concerns about employment, health and finances lead to increased stress levels. Unfortunately, as the majority of people are now confined to their homes, this can lead to an increased risk of domestic abuse incidents as victims are effectively trapped in the home with perpetrators who are potentially more volatile due to current stress levels.

According to the Guardian, in China there were three times as many cases of domestic abuse reported in February 2020 as there were in February 2019. As the COVID-19 outbreak worsens in the UK, police forces are expecting that the UK will also experience a rise in domestic abuse reports. Avon and Somerset police reported a 20.9% increase in reported domestic abuse incidents in the two weeks prior to 26 March 2020. Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing and crime also said ‘I think we are beginning to see a rise in domestic abuse incidents. We anticipated this might happen in the very stressful circumstances for many families.’

Domestic abuse does not only mean physical violence, but also refers to emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse, coercive control, harassment or stalking. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, in the first instance you should always contact the police. The social distancing measures presently in place also do not prevent you from leaving your home for your own safety, and Refuges in the UK remain open.

If the police are unable to assist you, you may wish to apply for a non-molestation order and/or an occupation order. This is a temporary injunction which provides protection by preventing the perpetrator from harming you or your children. The terms of the order will depend upon your specific circumstances.

At Ellisons, we remain committed to helping you during these difficult times and are able to offer initial appointments by telephone. If you would like to talk to one of our family lawyers please get in touch.

COVID-19: In these extraordinary times we recognise how difficult it is to find time to do everything, let alone seek legal advice. This is especially the case where you are living with your partner or spouse and are considering separating, or have your children with you during the day.

Therefore, we are now able to offer flexible telephone appointments to meet your personal needs, whether that is in the evenings, early mornings or weekends as well as our usual office hours. If making that initial call to book an appointment is difficult please email us at in the first instance and we can arrange a meeting by email.