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“What happens next”: Rita Gupta interviewed about domestic abuse on London Live TV

In recognition of the UN Women campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”, LGFL Managing Director appeared on TV and radio to discuss the issues around domestic abuse.

Rita discussed legal ways forward to help those suffering abuse - women, men and children - to move forward for a life beyond abuse. Her focus was on “what happens next” once they have removed themselves from danger, and how early legal advice can help put arrangements in place for them and their children.

Her first interview was for London Live TV News at Six on Friday 8 December 2023.

Click on the link to watch Rita in action, or read the edited transcript below.

 

 

 

Sarah Firth (London Live TV):

The United Nations “16 days of activism against gender-based violence” aims to shine a spotlight on the reality of violence against women and girls around the world and to focus the conversation on domestic violence and the best way to support survivors. We spoke to Rita Gupta, a lawyer who specialises in helping survivors of abuse use the law to protect them from their abuser.

Rita Gupta:

Awareness is much better than when I first started practising. I definitely would say that there's still a long way to go. I think any family lawyer would say the actual numbers are probably much higher. On a daily basis I'm dealing with clients who've never reported anything to their GP, the police, any other authority. Those people are still under the radar.

So I would say the statistics are probably much higher. It's a huge problem that needs to be addressed in society.

Sarah (London Live TV):

Here in London, what are you seeing in terms of the major barriers to people reaching out, and seeking help when they find themself in a situation where they might be suffering at the hands of an abuser?

We've had the pandemic, and we've currently got a cost of living crisis. How are factors like that playing into people reaching out for help?

Rita:

You've got to understand that abuse doesn't just deal with physical abuse and violence. There's also coercively controlling types of behaviour. Gaslighting is where the victim over a period of time has essentially been completely demoralised and has lost confidence and all self-esteem.

Those people are often really struggling to cope with the fact that they are actually victims of abuse. I'm dealing with many people who are in complete denial. There is a massive fear that they will lose their children, or that they will be reported to social services, for example, for being a bad parent.

Financially that's also a huge barrier. We’re exiting the cost of living crisis, and we’re going to the Christmas period. Victims are often absolutely financially dependent on their abuser. So I would say that children and finances are the main obstructions to leaving an abusive relationship.

Sarah (London Live TV):

About a year ago, there was a survey by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. It showed that more than a thousand police officers and staff accused of domestic abuse themselves were still serving in law enforcement.

How do you tackle this issue when even the organisations like the police that you're supposed to reach out to are having such high profile battles with misogyny and the situation not being dealt with properly within those ranks? This must be just terrifying for the people that you're speaking to, who are brave enough to reach out.

Rita:

Absolutely. As I said, we've got a long way to go, but there are some amazing charities out there who can offer support. If people are fearful of going to the emergency services, if they're fearful they're not going to be believed, I would encourage people to make that step and to contact charities like Women's Aid, who are there to try and support them through this process.

And then people need to take early legal advice. I find that people want out sometimes so desperately, they don't make arrangements for their children. They don't make proper financial arrangements.

Unfortunately, that does lead to post-separation abuse. The relationship may have ended, but the abuse is continuing because there isn't those arrangements in place that will secure the time, for example, that another parent sees the child. Contact can be a time when abuse can continue, and financial abuse as well. So I do think you need to get legal advice sooner rather than later.

Sarah (London Live TV):

What would you say in terms of advice to women out there who might be listening to this who are worried? Like you said, a lot of people can be in denial, but are worried that maybe they're in a situation that isn't right. What should they be doing right now?

Rita:

I think if you feel that it isn't right, you have to act on that. You can always reach out for support to a friend, a family member. But I would really promote that contacting a domestic abuse charity would be very important.

I think the main concerns for people are their children. If there's children in a relationship, it does make things more complicated. You are going to be inextricably linked with your abuser for the rest of your children's lives. I think that is a huge issue that people do have to address.

A family lawyer would be able to help you in putting in place arrangements and protective measures to ensure that the children and their arrangements around them are dealt with. Financial arrangements are something that have to be looked at very quickly. It's terrifying for people to think that they're going to be left financially destitute if they leave their abuser.

 

Concerned about yourself or another person?

For details on help for victims of abuse, see our updated article with helpline info here and a downloadable PDF.

Or call us in complete confidence: 01189 735 521.

We’ll be posting Rita’s other interviews here over the next couple of weeks.