A NEW unit specialising in dealing with victims of domestic violence is being launched by a Liverpool law firm.
The launch takes place against the background of new government figures showing that one in four women, and one in six men, will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetimes – many of these on a number of occasions.
One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.
City law firm Gregory Abrams Davidson has now launched a new Domestic Violence Unit, headed by well-known family lawyer Andrew Lee. He has been an accredited specialist in domestic violence matters since 2010.
He said: “Forthcoming changes in the law in April, 2013, will remove Legal Aid for most family cases, but victims of domestic violence will still be able to get help without worrying unduly about their financial situation. It is something we are here to advise on.”
His main priority is that a new client is seen quickly and that any action taken on their behalf is prompt, such as obtaining injunction orders.
Mr Lee added: “Protection of my client is vital during this process, and letting them know they have someone in their corner, who is someone they can trust, and who will act to ensure their safety, and the safety of their children, is the most important part of my work.
“It is so important that the Government is maintaining Legal Aid for victims of domestic violence, as they are keen for victims of this terrible crime not to have to deal directly with their abusers in other court proceedings, for example children disputes.
“So many clients come to us, and sadly, they feel a sense of shame and are unaware of the help that is available to them. Often, on top of the violence, there will be other complications and issues and they will be desperate to leave the relationship.
“If they have children, the need to take action is more urgent. If there is a dispute over children, the court will take full account of the existence of domestic violence when considering what arrangements, if any, should be put in place.”
Mr Lee said it was important to point out there was no stereotypical victim of domestic abuse, and that his clients came from every social and economic background.
“We want to build confidence in our clients through practical and legal help, advice and support. Most importantly, we want to create an absolute barrier of protection between our client and the perpetrator.”
Karen Johnson, a former victim of domestic abuse and now a volunteer at Liverpool Domestic Abuse Services (LDAS) in the Kensington area of the city, said she had seen a rise in domestic violence cases.
She went on: “Even as a former victim of domestic abuse, I am still shocked at the amount of clients who come to us for help.
“Often they come with no money, in the clothes they stand up in, and are completely powerless.
“We know domestic violence escalates at this time of year and it puts extra pressure on voluntary services, the police, and legal teams, who are all here to help.”
Gregory Abrams Davidson is providing a telephone service during the Christmas period. Call free on 0500 58 58 58 for legal assistance.