As Domestic Violence Divorce Solicitors based in Newcastle and a Family Law Expert, I was contacted recently by a researcher working on behalf of the Law Society. Did I feel that women are treated better than men in the Family Courts? Did I think that there should be any changes in the law? I was able to provide the researcher with a number of examples where men have not been treated very well by the courts or the police.
In one instance, a big bloke, who worked as a bouncer, came to see me. He had been served with an injunction forcing him out of the matrimonial home because of so-called domestic violence on his part. However, he lifted up his shirt and showed me the most awful injuries. These were stab wounds, and his girlfriend was the attacker. He hadn’t mentioned this to the police; he was too embarrassed; after all, he was a bouncer in the city and had his reputation to uphold.
I had to persuade him to let me take photographs of his injuries for the purpose of the next court hearing. This was the usual tale, his girlfriend had met someone else, she wanted him to move out, he said no, he wasn’t leaving his children. His girlfriend had obviously sought legal advice; the only way you can get him out of the house is if he has attacked you.
I see this situation so regularly. I have to warn my male clients not to respond if they are on the receiving end of verbal abuse, usually on a weekend when they can’t access their own solicitor. This is an attempt to create a storm, the partner then calls the police, and the man is arrested or removed from his home.
Often the police seem deaf to the fact that the woman may be an alcoholic or is using drugs. Quite a few of my male clients have been holding things together, trying to look after their children and hold down a job whilst trying to deal with the fall out of their partner’s addiction and violence.
In the above case, I was able to prove that my client had been attacked. Eventually, he had the children live with him five days per week. It’s always the children that I worry about in these situations, so I was pleased that he had rescued them.
Another man came in, and it took him until the third interview, where he was also being accused of domestic abuse, to show me his injuries. He broke down in tears as he showed me the stab wounds from a can opener.
I have dealt with a man who came to see me with extensive bruising to his face and neck. He had managed to get his wife into rehabilitation for a few months because of her drink problem. He had remortgaged the house to pay for this. He and his children had enjoyed a peaceful few months, but now his wife was back. After only two weeks, she had started to attack him again.
I have made telephone calls to the police for years, asking them not to assume that my male clients are the violent party. However, this has often fallen on deaf ears. One inspector advised me that they will always remove the man as he is bigger and he can more easily find somewhere else to go in the middle of the night. The inspector did not want to put a woman out into the street at night.
I have also contacted the press on a number of occasions. There is a lady in Sunderland who runs a women’s refuge. She will shout from the rooftops about how badly treated women are and how much help they need from a refuge. I agree I have heard every appalling tale you can imagine from my female clients. Stuff that has kept me awake at night.
However, what about male victims of domestic abuse? Where are they supposed to go to get help, where is the counselling for them, where are they going to live, how are they going to see their children? This is a problem for both straight and gay men.
There was one notable day at court when I was trying to sort out contact between my client and his children. He had always taken them to school, and his mum had collected the children after school. This was to accommodate the work patterns of his wife. However, she hadn’t always been at work; she was having a long term affair.
Eventually, my client’s wife announced she was leaving him, and he and his mother would no longer be able to take the children to or from school. A childminder had been hired and my client could see the children on a Saturday afternoon. What a forward-thinking judge we had in the first instance. Dad’s get to see their children one tea time during the week, and every other weekend, he pronounced! I lodged a formal complaint about this judge; this was all dads as far he was concerned. Which century do we live in?
Then there are the Asian cases that I deal with. It’s very important if you are living in a close-knit community, not to be seen to be the person who caused the end of the marriage. The assumption that it must be the man’s fault can be voiced quite loudly. We even had one female solicitor, who works in Newcastle, say to us recently that of course, our male Sikh client was guilty of domestic violence, he fits the profile she said.
We were appalled. Our client was a gentle soul, a professional man whose wife had taken up with another man. She was living a life her mother would not have been proud of. Domestic abuse comes in many forms, being excluded from family life, having things thrown at you, cups of tea poured over you every-day, being belittled on a regular basis, keeping you away from your own family or friends.
If this is happening to you, do not feel ashamed, you didn’t ask to be treated like this, and neither did your children.
As expert Divorce Solicitors, if you need any help or advice around this topic, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at Emmersons on 0191 284 6989 or
If you need help with your divorce or separation, then why not contact us for a Next Steps Divorce Advice Session and to see how we can help you. We can be contacted on:
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Family Law Specialists Solicitors Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
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