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Survivor’s campaign for safety in court


abuse victims, safe addressDomestic abuse survivor calls for address secrecy in court cases.

Eve’s Law is a campaign set up by Eve Thomas and One Voice Never Silenced to ask that victims of domestic abuse should not to be forced to reveal their address in court.

Eve Thomas is a survivor of domestic abuse who earlier this year found herself in court for a civil offence.

She is a survivor of domestic abuse, and she refused to disclose her address to the court when asked to do so. After all, her address was her safe place, her child’s safe place.

Thomas was a known victim of domestic abuse whom the police considered to be at high risk of domestic homicide.

The police had already marked her address with a domestic abuse marker and a vulnerable adult marker and still the court asked her to disclose where her and her children resided.

Yet still the court felt it crucial that she stand up in court and read her address out loud.

Thomas refused to do this. She felt it unnecessary, given that they already had this information.

The court disagreed and held her in contempt of court, and felt so strongly about her refusal to disclose her safe place that a warrant for her arrest was issued.

She handed herself in and appeared before his Honour Judge Platts at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, and provided the court with a full disclosure and statement of truth, listing police logs, reference numbers, copies of restraining orders imposed by the court against her abuser, and details of her abuser’s convictions for assault and breach of restraining order.

And still the court was prepared to send her to prison for refusing to disclose her address verbally, and currently, that is what UK legislation allows: a period of custody for withholding details of a  safe – address.

Thomas was spared imprisonment when a friend came forward and paid the outstanding debt she owed, the reason she was in court in the first place.

But disappointed in the system and its unwillingness to protect and support victims of domestic abuse, Eve Thomas joined forces with prominent human rights and criminal barrister David Malone.

On 1 September 2013, they embarked on a national campaign requesting a meeting with the Ministry of Justice to discuss the implementation of ‘Eve’s Law’.

Under what they propose as ‘Eve’s Law’ if a victim of domestic abuse can substantiate their claims of abuse, the court would provide the victim with the protection of not having to disclose their address or any details which would place them at further risk of abuse from their abuser.

“All personal and safety information of the victim and any children would automatically be protected,” says Thomas on the One Voice Never Silenced campaign page on her website.

“All court documentation stamped [or] marked with “Eve’s Law” would be immediately recognised by all “trained” court and criminal justice sector workers, therefore protecting the victim’s personal details.

“From the moment a victim reports a crime of domestic abuse they [would] have an “Eve’s Law” marker attached to them and their home thus alerting police officers, solicitors, court staff etc.

“Special care is automatically taken to ensure the security of the victim’s details. This would work in the same way as a Domestic Violence [or] Vulnerable Adult Marker and would follow the victim even if they changed address.

“The addresses of refuges [should] also have an “Eve’s Law” marker attached to them thus alerting courts and criminal justice sector workers of the need to protect.” states the website.

With two women in the UK victims of domestic homicide every week, killed by their partner or ex-partner, surely it is time the courts put the safety of domestic abuse victims first.

You can support the campaign by signing the petition asking for a meeting with the Ministry of Justice to discuss ‘Eve’s Law’ here .

Follow @evethomas #OneVoice Never Silenced

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