Survivors of domestic abuse will stage a protest next month on London’s Parliament Square to highlight the way domestic violence cases are handled in the family courts.
The protest is part of a campaign called #thecourtsaid which was launched in June by Natalie, a survivor herself of domestic abuse. The campaign calls on the family justice system to improve its treatment of people affected by domestic abuse.
Concerns around the way victims of domestic abuse are treated by the family courts stem from survivors’ inability to discuss their cases with anyone other than their legal representatives, documented bias towards vulnerable parents alleging abuse by a spouse or partner and limited rights to protect their children from abuse.
In 2017, Ofsted published a report on children living with domestic violence and concluded that the phenomenon was so widespread that it had become a public health issue.
Research also confirmed that family court judges are often swayed in favour of allegations of parental alienation when a parent alleged that they or their children had experienced domestic abuse in the home, at the hands of the parent alleging alienation.
The campaign has seen exceptionally high levels of engagement and has collected over 1,000 testimonies from survivors.
Natalie spoke to Researching Reform about the reasons for the campaign and its aims:
“The campaign brings together survivors, activists, organisations and allies together in condemnation and protest of the family court. The family court routinely puts survivor families in harm’s way through what is effectively a presumption of contact even in cases of domestic abuse, rape and cases with a high risk of homicide.
Children have been harmed in their thousands and in some cases even murdered as a result. Perpetrators of domestic abuse are 62% more likely to harm their children (source: SafeLives) and this risk is not assessed and wilfully ignored by the court and associated agencies, leaving survivor families in an inescapable domestic abuse dynamic, as the behaviour persists beyond the physical separation.
#thecourtsaid was born out of my desire to no longer see another domestic abuse survivor facing the barriers to justice and safety that currently exist.”
The protest, which is open to the public and all domestic abuse survivors, will take place on 26th October at noon, on London’s Parliament Square.
Survivors who would like to attend or speak at the protest can contact Natalie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtags #endthisinjustice and #thecourtsaid, or connect on Facebook at thecourtsaid.
Natalie generously shared some of the testimonies from domestic abuse survivors which her campaign received. We’ve added extracts from the testimonies in the slideshow.
A special thank you to the survivor who very kindly coordinated the interview and the testimonials. They cannot be named for legal reasons.