RISE launches first legislation change campaign

Posted May, 2020

RISE has launched a campaign to protect the safety and dignity of domestic abuse survivors, by changing the law to give them anonymity in the press when their cases go to court. Scroll further down for the press release.

Survivors affected by domestic abuse during lockdown are less likely to report their cases if they are going to be named in the press. In fact, a RISE client was recently considering not going to court because she was afraid of being identified by her friends if she was named in the press.

Instances of domestic abuse have increased during lockdown (calls to our helpline have tripled), as has the level of complexity of cases we are supporting. This is why we want to take action now to change the law - as there should be a greater number of court cases happening in due course.

RISE continues to support domestic abuse survivors through lockdown – providing a lifeline for those trapped inside with their perpetrators during this period. RISE can support survivors to leave abusive relationships if they are in a position to do so - and support them while their cases go through Magistrates' court.

But these women are at the highest risk of violence in the year after they leave their perpetrators (1), which is likely to coincide with their cases going to court. Right now, newspapers can name these survivors when they appear in court - which puts their safety and their mental health further at risk, from any potential harassment they may receive as a result.

RISE wants to change the law, making it illegal for the press to name survivors who have already been through the trauma of abuse and the ordeal of a court case. RISE wants survivors’ anonymity and therefore safety to be protected in law, so they can draw a line under their experience and move on to rebuild their lives. Help make that happen.

How can I support the campaign?

Help show public support for this change to the law by adding your name to the petition -

Sign the petition here >>

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin for campaign updates


Sources:

(1) In 2018, 37 women had separated or taken steps to separate from their male partner when they were killed by them...89% [were killed] within the first year [of separation]. From the 2018 Femicide Census: 2018 Findings, p. 24


Press release

Brighton charity RISE calls for new press anonymity law to protect domestic abuse survivors

Brighton-based domestic abuse charity RISE is calling for a new law to protect domestic abuse survivors, by giving them the same right to anonymity in the press as survivors of sexual assault.

RISE, a charity supporting people across Sussex affected by domestic abuse and violence, has seen calls to their helpline more than triple (an increase of 220%) during the Coronavirus lockdown - a time when survivors are more likely to be stuck at home with their perpetrators.

RISE warns that the law as it stands compromises the privacy and safety of survivors. Anything said in court during a domestic abuse case can legally be reported in the media, including survivors’ names, which puts women and their families at risk of serious harm and abuse and removes a survivor’s right to privacy.

In 2019, after being named in the media as a survivor of domestic abuse whose case had gone to court, a RISE service user received abuse and harassment from her perpetrator’s friends, as well as identifying her to people she knew.

Supporting RISEs call to change the law, she said of her experience:

“None of my family knew, neither did my employer. I felt a lot of shame and then seeing my name in the article and the awful comments made below the article were dreadful, there was racial abuse online. I felt sad, ashamed, embarrassed and violated. Something that took a lot of courage for me to report and everyone got to know about it. Even now I find myself googling my name for fear of it popping up again. There is an added layer of shame when I already had enough to process with regard to being abused.”

In its new public policy campaign, RISE is calling for a change to the law to ensure domestic abuse survivors have the same right to anonymity in the press that sexual assault survivors do. The charity is urging people across Sussex and the UK to add their name to a petition calling for a change to the law.

Jo Gough, CEO at RISE, said:

“Survivors who leave their perpetrators are at the highest risk of violence within the first year of leaving, which often coincides with their case going to Magistrates court.

“These women have already been through great trauma being harmed in their own homes by those closest to them as well as the ordeal of court, so they should not be put through the further distress of being named in the media. It removes a survivor’s right to privacy and can put them and their family at further risk of harassment, abuse and potentially serious harm.

“We want to change the law to protect the privacy and safety of survivors and their families.”

Backing the campaign, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, said:

Lockdown has brought into sharp relief the unbearable situations many people are facing at home, with calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline increasing by 25% since lockdown began. Yet we know that domestic abuse is hugely underreported to the police.

“Guaranteeing press anonymity for survivors of domestic abuse could encourage reporting and crucially, help to keep survivors safe. That’s why I welcome this new campaign from RISE and look forward to working with them to get a change in the law.

“Survivors of domestic abuse need support to build a new life away from their abuser, and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that this happens in as safe an environment as possible.

Anyone who wishes to support the campaign can add their name to the petition to change the law here: http://www.riseuk.org.uk/press-petition

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EDITOR’S NOTES:

For further information, high res images and interviews, please contact:

Sophie Ramsey, RISE Campaigner and Fundraiser on 0747 2211 829 or at [email protected].

About the campaign

  • The campaign and its petition have been launched on the 19th of May.
  • The campaign has support of the three Brighton and Hove MPs – Caroline Lucas MP, Peter Kyle MP and Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP. It also has the support of many local councillors.
  • To find out more about the campaign visit the news item on the RISE website at: https://www.riseuk.org.uk/news/2020/campaign-launch-commencing-in-mid-may

About RISE

Website: www.riseuk.org.uk

RISE is an independent, Brighton-based registered charity that helps people affected by domestic abuse. We offer practical help ranging from direct advice to refuge accommodation for those whose lives are at risk.

The charity offers practical help ranging from direct advice to refuge accommodation for those whose lives are at risk.

  • Last year RISE helped over 3,000 people, including 248 children.
  • RISE runs the only domestic abuse helpline in Sussex
  • Last year our helpline staff handled over 4,000 calls, which works out as 18 a day
  • RISE stands for refuge, information, support and education
  • The charity was founded in 1994 and celebrated its 25th anniversary last year

R.I.S.E. (refuge, information, support and education) is a registered charity (No.1065846)

R.I.S.E. is a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England No. 3452008.

Registered office 3rd Floor Rear, Shaftesbury Court, 95 Ditchling Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4ST.