The difference between soap operas and real life
The recent storyline in Coronation Street involving domestic abuse is no doubt aimed to raise awareness of this issue, particularly for male victims like Tyrone. In addition to being the victim of an abusive relationship, poor Tyrone doesn’t have Parental Responsibility for his daughter Ruby and he has failed to find a safe way out of his problems.
Like many victims of domestic abuse, Tyrone was either too scared or too ashamed to seek help with the situation he faced. This is a common feeling for victims of domestic abuse. However, had he sought help at an earlier stage, things might have ended up very differently for him.
Although it is a big step, if, like Tyrone, you’ve been the victim of domestic abuse, it is always a good idea to consider going to the Police. Tyrone had photographic evidence of his injuries which would have been good evidence for the Police to start a criminal investigation. Like the courts, the Police are aware of the harm that domestic abuse can cause and they also have extensive resources and powers to help and protect victims.
Given that Kirsty is a former Police officer, it is perhaps understandable why Tyrone felt he could not turn to the Police for help. Instead, Tyrone could have visited in GP to have his injuries confidentially recorded.
Tyrone should have sought help from a family law solicitor. The solicitor would have explained to him that he could obtain protection from the courts to stop Kirsty’s abusive ways harming both him and baby Ruby. The legal system recognises that it is very harmful for children to be exposed to abusive situations and there are numerous court orders available to victims of domestic abuse to protect them and their children.
In serious cases, a solicitor can help victims of domestic abuse get an injunction (called a “non-molestation order”) to prevent their spouse or partner using or threatening violence and to prevent intimidation and harassment. These orders can be obtained within a few hours of a visit to a solicitor’s office and initially without the other person being informed. Once the order is in place, if it is broken then the abuser commits a criminal offence and will be arrested and charged by the Police. The penalties for breaking a non molestation order can range from a community sentence to imprisonment. The courts can also make orders requiring one person to leave the family home in circumstances where it would be harmful for the children for both people to remain living under the same roof.
As for Tyrone’s lack of rights for Ruby, at the same time as applying for an injunction, Tyrone’s solicitor could also have applied for an interim residence order confirming that Ruby should live with Tyrone so that she would be protected from being exposed to any more abusive situations between her parents. Such an order would only be short term but it would give Tyrone Parental Responsibility for Ruby which legally puts him on an equal footing with Kirsty. In the long term, Kirsty would be given an opportunity to put forward her side of the story. If Kirsty denies Tyrone’s allegations and/or makes allegations against him then the Judge would decide which person he or she believes before making a decision about Ruby’s long term future. The Judge can also obtain various expert reports looking into each parent’s personality and any risk factors before making a final decision.
Things might have ended up very differently for Tyrone had he been brave enough to seek help from a family law solicitor before things got so dreadfully out of hand