Soon after the introduction of the first lockdown, it became apparent that prolonged periods of isolation have led to an increase in domestic abuse.
A report on the increase in domestic abuse promoted the Government to issue guidance to say that victims at risk of domestic abuse are permitted to leave their home to seek support, despite social distancing measures.
Research amongst Mediators has shown that in 55% of cases, domestic abuse is raised as an issue.
Mediators are required to assess with parties who attend MIAMs whether domestic abuse has taken place, if so to what extent, over what period of time, how that might impact upon mediation and whether mediation would be suitable.
There is a four stage process for the Mediator to consider when faced with domestic abuse in a MIAM, namely to consider the tactics used by the perpetrator, the impact of these on the victim, to make an assessment (e.g. to assess Mediation as unsuitable, to invite the other party to a MIAM or to delay making a decision as to suitability until the other party has been seen or to explore different Mediation settings) and finally to consider next steps, in particular what would happen if Mediation was not suitable, i.e. whether the party who is the victim has the necessary support and legal advice if Mediation does not proceed.
The Mediator will also need to consider the effect on the abused party of being on screen and of them endeavouring to discuss and negotiate with the perpetrator, especially if the parties still reside in the same house and the abused party may struggle to find privacy and may, for example, be deliberately interrupted by the perpetrator or their personal space not respected.
The assessment must continue throughout Mediation meetings and a Mediator should always take responsibility for the decision as to whether to mediate.
If the Mediator decides not to mediate, then he/she should not disclose the reasons for this to the other party.
To find out whether Mediation may be a potential option or for more information, contact our Accredited Family Mediator, Peter Burden on 01926 857631 or at email@example.com.