THIS month chartered legal executive Juliette Kilkenny and legal executive Paul Barker, at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors, look at an issue that casts a shadow on all sectors of our community and can affect rural communities just as much as urban, so much so that the Government recently confirmed an extra £4 million is to be allocated to the Domestic Abuse Fund.

The fund was originally launched in July last year to provide specific support to more than 25,000 victims and their families, including additional beds in refuges, allowing access to education, employment and life skills to help survivors build a safe and healthy future for themselves and their families. This is welcome news which

will build on any assistance we can provide to obtain protection in the first instance.

It is a sad truth that domestic abuse flourishes more easily in isolation than it does in the public gaze. TV and radio programmes such as The Archers and Emmerdale have over the years chosen to highlight this hidden and painful issue.

The BBC’s Hitting Home Campaign in October of 2014 reported: “The isolation from help, together with the economic burden of the high cost of living and the increased financial pressures on rural areas further exacerbate the effects of domestic abuse.

In the Outreach Project from 1995 to 1998, Jeanne Haley, a project worker, identified various concerns within rural areas. Her report found that where isolation is a fundamental component to domestic abuse (control and mental abuse do not create bruises that can be seen by a doctor), for rural victims this can be profound.

The nearest farm might be two miles away or more so they can never hear screams, there might be no network coverage on a mobile telephone and in winter you might be inaccessible via road.

Victims can also be reluctant to come forward because of the close-knit communities within villages and hamlets.

This can add to the problem of maintaining confidentiality when all members of the family and commonly the community use the same health, legal and social services facilities.

As part of a rural community a victim may live in tied accommodation making legal avenues for removing the abuser impossible as this could make victim and family homeless.

Or perhaps the victim is an adult living in an inherited farmhouse which is part of a complex family network, so trying to take any action could involve the livelihood of the extended family.

There is a large aging population in rural communities and, although less frequently talked about, elder abuse is a reality.

In smaller communities, business or places of work may be literally next door, making it impossible for the victim to access help as their partners are always around.

Many people buy property for holiday homes to access the country side. People may take holidays but domestic abuse does not.

If you have been or are a victim of domestic abuse, then suffering in silence can stop and there are legal remedies to protect you. Possible remedies are:

  • A non-molestation order which can prohibit someone from using or threatening violence against you, from intimidating, harassing or pestering you or from communicating with you;
  • When especially urgent, the district judge can make an order immediately at court. Effective upon it being personally served upon the other party;
  • A breach of any of the terms of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence and the police can action such;
  • An occupation order is an order of the court controlling who lives in a specific property, often to the exclusion of others. Additional terms can also be applied for such as who will be responsible for ongoing payments of the mortgage or rent and if someone is to be excluded from a property, the date and time they should vacate that property.

If you require any assistance in obtaining either one of the above orders to protect you from domestic abuse, then you can phone the family team in York on 01904 624185, Malton on 01653 600070, Pickering on 01751 472121 or Selby on 01757 708957.