The Archers raises domestic violence issues

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I am not a fan of The Archers but the recent domestic abuse storyline of married couple Rob Titchener and Helen Archer has caught my eye in the press. In fact, I recently saw the actors who play Helen and Rob being interviewed on the BBC's Countryfile, where they talked about the extra difficulties for victims of domestic violence in rural areas. Often such victims find it even harder to find help as public transport links are less available, mobile signal can be poor and generally the victim can be isolated in a house with no or very few neighbours.

It is always important as a family law solicitor and mediator to be sensitive to the possibility that my client may be suffering from, or have suffered from, domestic violence, male or female. If my client is at risk of domestic abuse it is possible to apply for a non-molestation order from the courts, to stop someone intimidating, harassing, pestering, threatening violence or being violent. Breach of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence. To get someone out of the house, or keep them out, where there is domestic abuse it is also possible to apply to the courts for an occupation order. A power of arrest can be attached to such orders if the level of danger warrants it. Of course, clients can always report abuse to the police, and we can consider other safeguarding measures as well.

As a mediator, I always meet with clients individually before the joint session is arranged. I need to be sure both clients are comfortable sitting in the same room with me, and I need to find out whether there are any abuse or threatening behaviour issues. I can then decide whether mediation is suitable and, if it is, whether it should be conducted in the same room, or whether it should be on a shuttle basis with the clients in separate rooms.

If you need information about domestic violence injunctions, family mediation or any aspect of family law, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues in the Blake Morgan family team.