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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Is there anyone who works in mediation in domestic violence

Customer Question

Is there anyone who works in mediation in domestic violence situations? Case scenario - a family who what to confront domestic violence in their home.
An affected partner and her children want to protect their home and their income but confront the violence. The children involved do not want to lose the home they have just spent years working towards. They have finally redecorated it just the way they want it. It was a happy home with some very important memories. Child protection is involved. They all understand the need for children to be kept safe. The violent partner is barred from the house. They are happy to follow advice from the relevant agencies - medics. police, child protection etc
The police are interested in prosecution. Prosecution in court will lead to a job loss. They want the affected partner to back them in court. Their priority is to punish the offender but this is not the priority of the family. By punishing the offender they will also create a situation where the mortgage is unsustainable. All the family wants is to stop the violence and they really want to stay in this home. they don't really want rehomed if they can help it.
It is suggested that by not backing the court the affected partner is neglecting her children and may be in contempt of court though she has not been asked to attend court as yet. They tell her not only could she lose her home if she does not cooperate but also her children. The affected partner does not want to be directly responsible the loss of his job and the family home. Let fate take its course. She wants someone to work with the family directly but the police is keen in prosecution so they have more power over what restrictions can be put in place. Eg alcohol rehabilitation. She wonders if this can be done without prosecuting the family. Dealing with core issues in a sensitive and not destructive manner. they tell her that they don't do mediation in domestic violence scenarios The assault is a crime that needs prosecution. By reporting the violence she feels she has effectively shot herself in the foot. It is little wonder that domestic violence is under reported. Is their anyone who protects the right of the family in these cases, something along the lines of restorative justice. Another victim did not want to prosecute because she knew her partner would not cope in prison however ended the abusive relationship. Often after a lot of trauma, people do not want to be involved in retaliation. It means so much is lost that appears needless. Is their a branch of the justice system that directly protects the families interest before anything else. Do we really need to lose everything we hold dear and worked incredibly hard for and start yet again? Having been through several court cases already we are penniless but just managed to keep the house. Probably time to give that up as well. Shame really.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

I presumed this has already been reported?

Please forget about mediation. The police are not just interested. They are prosecuting.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes it was reported by the affected partner in order to stop the violence.but she is worried about losing her home as a consequence. Her husband owns the property she lives in. She has a property in her own name at the other end of the country. They face losing both. They have both gone insolvent due to several civilian court cases. They will not get another mortgage


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, she is right to be concerned.

is this the first time she's done this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No the first time she reported the violence she was poverty stricken due to the court cases. The partner and her daughter were both seriously mentally ill. There was a clash and between them she called the police. As a consequence she lost her children who she could no longer afford to feed and because she needed enhanced disclosure she also lost her two jobs but managed to keep the third. All relied on enhanced disclosure. There was an investigation, full child protection due to domestic violence.and assault. They fought together as a family won the cases eg employment tribunal, medical claim and reunited the family when the money came through. Both solicitors in the domestic violence situation worked together to mediate with the family. It worked.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
How many times has she called the police roughly?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In the initial case several years back about 4 times. The husband was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and the daughter with dissociative disorder. The daughter was kept in care for much longer than her sons to avoid family clashes. Social services returned her to the family after she became increasingly unhappy in foster care. This time only once. The assault was on the affected partner and the son came in after and floored the father and both swiftly exited the room.. living with mental illness is tough as people can become violent much more quickly. It was sorted within minutes and they called the police who came as arrested the step father this week.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Very good so far

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.

I just need to know how many times she has called the police?

How many actual incidents?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Four in the first case several years ago and one this past week. It was frustrating that they could not directly help a family in distress. The lack of money and long term stress led to frequent arguments. With the mental illness there has been more incidents that have not been reported. Clashes tend to go with the territory. The worry is that if you reach out for help it tends to backfire, the violence in the past week was completely unnacceptable she immediately put a stop to the behaviour.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Yes, it does backfire. There is only one way to avoid that now and that is never to make reports to the police.

What I need to know though is this. How many incidents has she reported to the police?

I can't tell if you are saying that there have been 5 separate complaints or just two?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Okay,


In the first instance, several years back there was four phone calls to 999 as we were fighting domestic violence which the police responded to. So I imagine that would be four separate incidents. We were told to report any escalation in order to stop the violence from occurring again. This time there was one phone made after she received repeated blows to her face in one incident this time. She immediately took action to protect herself and the children.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
OK.

That is a problem.

How long ago exactly? I don't mean what date by how many years?

Also, what were her injuries this time?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Fri 3rd May 2014 - three days ago. She had two blows to the forehead which have almost settled and a deep bruise that is still very evident on her right eyelid


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Do you know if she let the police take pictures?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes she did

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok.

And I presume she doesn't want to go through with it?

is the allegation that the children witnessed the alleged assault?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

She is trying to protect both family homes. The children are very attached to the house up North which is her home in Scotland but two of her children are about to take Alevels and Olevels. They are settled in England this is not the time to move. Her youngest son came in the bedroom after hearing the commotion and wrestled his step dad to the floor.the step dad was fall over drunk, paranoid and verbally and sexually abusive. The youngest son has been checked out at the local hospital to make sure he has no injuries. He did have slight muscle bruising in his eye. The elder two children can have contact with the stepdad via text as they did not witness the incident. Today a police officer came to the house with the stepfather to allow him to pick up some things ready for work tomorriow. I suppose the question is what should she do to protect herself as much as possible. She is happy to cooperate with the police but would also like to protect their assets as much as possible. Should she be a witness against him or is that going to make matters even worse for her than they already are. The youngest son has said to the police he would be a witness in court if he had to. The police are suggesting to the victim that this time she should prosecute, last time their was no further action. Not assisting in the court case may look like she is uncooperative and therefore not interested in protecting her children from a crime that needs prosecution but in doing so she risks losing eveything that theyhave built up together over the years. The property that was in a very poor state of repair is finally beginning to take shape. Working harmoniously together may stop the properties from being lost completely. Child protection is still the top priority. The children are safe.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Ok.

So could yoiu give me the information I asked for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I suppose she is happy to go through with the case if necessary but is worried about the impact on the family homes. Should she go to court? Will that look better on her part or is it in the end going to be more detrimental than helpful. She helps convict her husband, he loses his job. the mortgage cannot be paid, the house is repossessed, he will not get on the property ladder again due to his age and financial status. As yet there has been no allegation of anything but the youngest son intervened at the end of the assault so perhaps they will put some charge through. If there is I imagine her husband who has now been bailed should have that information.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.


And I presume she doesn't want to go through with it?

is the allegation that the children witnessed the alleged assault?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

As yet she hasn't received any information to be able to make a decision either way.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks,.

Would it be possible to tell me

1 I presume she now doesn't want to go through with this?

2 Is her allegation that the children witnessed the assault?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

She is happy to cooperate with the police. Violence is wrong. She is worried about the impact this has on both properties. The question as yet is - if she goes ahead with the police case will that negatively or positively affect her situation. She is trying to protect her children but also her assets.


She is not alleging anything regarding the assault but one of her children was there during the assault and the police would like him to testify in court. The police also want her to testify in court so they can bring a conviction this time. If the conviction is sucessful how best can she protect their assets?


Rather than losing this house can she do anything to protect the family from losing 1 or 2 properties.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, you cannot negotiate the consequences of a conviction in this way. If he is convicted then he is convicted.

In those circumstances, is she prepared to give evidence or would she rather not?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

At present she is gathering information. This is the emotional reaction this deals with her feelings- her husband has done wrong and he has to face the consequences of his actions this will impact on him and his family. Let the court decide and the consequences will take their natural course. She does not wish necessarily to be involved in unpicking her life.


or


Her husband has done wrong and the first priority is that she needed to protect herself and her children. She was the one who reported the incident to the police. By reporting the incident to the police she has single handedly destroyed everything that she had fought for over the years, getting on the property ladder building up, repairing and improving the properties. Now she can take an active part in unpicking everything that they built up together, what better way to end the whole thing than testifying into your own destruction. The final grand slam.. What is the point of reporting this to the police if all they do is unpick your life further. She didn't make a wise decision because they don't look at it from the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the vulnerable they just want a conviction the wife and kids can go stuff themselves.


Sorry it just makes me angry that law appears to approach complex cases with the finesse of bludgeoning axe. Whatever we do I guess we are screwwed either way. Sorry emotional rant over. Why should we be attached to our home anyway?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, I think these are really relationship issues for her to sort out privately with him.

Obviously he may well have misbehaved and its understandable that she is keen for some form of retribution but there are other ways of doing that then involving the police. Once you do involve the police they will prosecute. There is no way around it in this particular case. There have been many other calls to the police and there is an allegation that a child witnessed this.

The difficulty with this is really historical. I realise that the background to this has nothing to do with you and is not of your creation but it might help you to understand the position.

Traditionally when complainants said that they were reluctant the prosecution was dropped. That has encouraged abuse from some sections of society.

Sadly, genuine victims of domestic abuse are not the only people who do call the police to domestic incidents. Some people, and it's not only women, seem to use the police as a mediation service and call them to almost every argument in the house. Also, some people make reports to the police knowing that they never intended to give evidence but just to get their partner out of the house for the evening.

This has led to understandable frustration amongst police officers. To deal with that they have turned to a policy of summonsing a reluctant witness.

They do not summons in every case. It's fair to say that sometimes people are allowed to withdraw. On the face of it, there would appear to be a justification for withdrawing here. The injuries were not grave and the police have not been called before. There was no other significant aggravation.

However, there are some CPS reviewers who are militant, or just fail to consider the case properly, and will summons in circumstances where they should not.

If I can be wholly honest, the problem here is this. If you call the police, they will investigate the allegation and bring a prosecution. That is what the police do. If you do not want that to happen then the only solution is not to call them. That is not to say that you cannot otherwise access help like mediation and counselling but the police do not organise that for you. The police are law enforcement officers.

I'm very sorry but thats the reality.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Just one thing thank you. You have been amazing


.In this case there is very little to do with retribution. The family has always worked together despite significant trauma and significant issues with mental illness.. In emergency situations you can't weigh up all the pro and cons of whether it is feasible to call the police. You have to react. Not to react in times like these would lead to a conviction of neglect or a murder scene. What I suppose I would be campaigning for that in these kind of cases we take a holistic approach.even if the police has been called that instead of going down the prosecution route you are still able to able to have the option of working together towards mediation.


In the last case, that this family went through several years back before the recent case, mediation worked where police where looking for a conviction,. the vulnerable person often knows the situation intimately.


The frustrations the last time were -


You spend thousands and thousands of pounds into convicting dysfunctional families but you spend very little on the support they desperately want. Support with housing, finance queries, psychological help, mediation. For instance in this case, the mother wants help to protect herself and her children. She wasn't asking for a conviction. If the man is banned from the house that is fine but convicting him also convict herself and the children to execution as well. I'm not condoning crime here, some crimes will need law to keep things in check. I am merely suggesting we should look proactively towards mediation even after the police have been called. Little wonder two die every week in instances related to domestic violence. Pointless reaching out to the police if they are going to destroy you in the process. Likewise with forced adoption no point reaching out to a social worker when forced adoption is the policy, countries with forced adoption have been found to have higher rates of death and abuse.. England of course being one of them. So by the police taking a heavy handed approach they get some of the nasties locked up but the rest would rather take our chances. The floodgates of police enquiry have been opened here but I am passionate about campaigning for change, protecting the vulnerable rather than subjecting the vulnerable to policies and procedures that makes there fate worse than ever. In the last case the policy for risk assessments were changed because the family were passionate about the rights of the child who was suffering from a mental illness. Unless the vulnerable speak out nothing will change. i want to campaign in this case. I want to defend the needs of all concerned. Which way can I campaign for a more positive approach to hard core policing, if I went to court how could I best present a case that encompasses this? How could I get the police to listen to me, how best should i present my case. Who would be the best campaign groups to approach in this type of case? Thank you for your hard work It has been much appreciated.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I wouldn't really know anything about that I'm afraid.

The problem is that you are asking the police to do something that they just plain don't do. The police are law enforcement officers not relationship mediators and I think, in truth, it would be contrary to public interest for that to change.

To be wholly honest, what you are describing is a question for the family courts.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry, I will stop I promise but the family law courts in Britain are pretty terrifying. They do not appear to look at the long term consequences of those involved.and the significant emotional harm that they cause to all who attend. I suppose the only thing to do in this sort of case is to campaign to the European court of human rights. It appears they listen in a slightly different way than family law courts though I know the process is slowly changing, it is a matter of being able to steer correctly through the quagmire. Thanks anyway.. Some cases lost in Britain are won over there. Its just frustrating that they are happy to spend £10.000 on a report to destroy a family but they can't spend £10,000 on rebuilding a family. I wonder why that is. It seems a dreadful waste of money/. Sorry I'ss stop there before you shut down!

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, it is a shocking waste of taxpayers money and we should stop wasting resources on domestics.

I think the real purpose of their policy is to cover themselves.

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