A woman who has suffered abuse at the hands of a family member says she does not feel safe to seek help because of the fear that her personal details will be released in court.
The teenager, who has refused to be named for fear of reprisals, said her life has been threatened if she speaks up. She said she is too scared to go to court to seek protection in case her address is revealed during those proceedings, or any subsequent appearances.
Her story emerges as a group of MPs demand that a “dangerous anomaly” in the court system, which Channel 4 News revealed in October is placing victims back in harm’s way, be addressed.
The MPs have backed “Eve’s law” – named after campaigner Eve Thomas – which would give those who have suffered from domestic abuse an exemption from having to give their addresses when appearing in open court. They also want a marker system to be put in place which would inform the authorities of whose details need to be protected.
They believe the changes would also make it easier for people being abused by their partners to come forward and speak to the police. They acted after the news emerged that many victims of domestic abuse were having to give their addresses when attending court on unrelated matters after their escape.
This, they said, was putting them in danger because it was tantamount to handing their “flee addresses” to their abusers. Others said their addresses were even included on court orders for their protection served on the people abusing them.
‘I am reluctant to go to court or get a new home due to my new address being revealed’
Speaking to Channel 4 News, the girl alleged that she was a victim of child sexual abuse and violence at the hands of a close family member. She said: “I want to bring everything out into the open but I don’t feel safe enough.
“I am reluctant to go to court or get a new home due to my new address being revealed. Eve’s law would keep me safe and thousands others. I ask that this be brought in ASAP to protect me and thousands like me.”
She said she would go to the police once she felt safe.
Shadow justice minister Dan Jarvis, who is supporting the campaign for “Eve’s Law”, said: There is an issue here that the government needs to legislate to resolve.
“But we are also doing this because we think there is a broader debate to be had around domestic violence and how much is reported.
“It is about confidence in the system. People will be more likely to come forward if they have that confidence.”
He added that levels of reporting are already low. “It is estimated that around 70 per cent of cases go unreported. On average, a woman will be abused 35 times before reporting it.
“We are also quite concerned to see that there are now 13 per cent fewer cases being referred to the CPS. Part of the reason we are backing is to put right this wrong,” he said.
Earlier this week, he asked the government in the House of Commons to start the process of incorporating “Eve’s law” into legislation, which the justice minister Damian Green agreed to consider.
The Early Day Motion, proposed by Labour MP Robert Flello asks MPs to support a statement making clear that they recognise that “victims of domestic violence and abuse are being placed at risk when forced to give their safe address in open court in unrelated proceedings”.
It adds that “Eve’s Law would close an anomaly which may deter victims of domestic violence from reporting abuse”.