Family Violence During COVID-19
Countries that have imposed a lockdown seem to report a corresponding increase in domestic abuse. This is extremely worrying and puts the vulnerable in Singapore at risk as well, given that COVID-19 measures have been put in place to limit the movement of households and encourage people to stay at home. It is therefore important to be aware of the various forms of help available to protect yourself and your children, and to keep yourself safe during this period of time.
1. Applying for a Personal Protection Order
If you are experiencing do domestic abuse or family violence at home, you can apply for a Personal Protection Order (“PPO”) at the Family Justice Courts. The PPO is a court order granted to protect individuals from domestic violence. You may apply for it for yourself or on behalf of a child or an incapacitated person. You may also apply for an expedited order (“EO”), should you face imminent danger, or the domestic exclusion order (“DEO”), which excludes the perpetrator from the house. These are some useful information you should take note of as well:-
- How does the Court decide to grant the PPO?
Under section 65 of the Women’s Charter, in deciding if a PPO should be granted, the Court will consider if (a) family violence has been committed or is likely to be committed against you; and (b) that it is necessary for your protection. Accordingly, it would be useful to produce medical evidence any police report to strengthen your case.
- What is family violence?
In order to obtain a PPO, you need to have suffered some form of family violence. Under section 64 of the Women’s Charter, ‘family violence’ means:
- Wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt
- Causing hurt to a family member by an act which is known or ought to have been known will result in hurt
- Wrongful confining or restraining a family member against his will
- Continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.
- What happens if somebody contravenes the PPO?
Under section 64 of the Women’s Charter, any person who wilfully contravenes a PPO, EO or DEO, shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, the person will be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both.
2. Seek emotional support from the National Care Hotline
If you need easy access to any emotional or mental support because of family abuse, and feel embarrassed confiding in a loved one or a close friend, there is a National Care Hotline in place to offer a listening ear and the support that you will need, by linking you up with trained individuals. They will be able to provide the psychological help that you need to get through this stressful period of time.
3. Approach specialised organisations for assistance
There are several organisations you can approach for assistance if you are not sure what to do. Such organisations include women’s advocacy group, Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), and specialist centres such as the Child Protection Specialist Centres and Family Violence Specialist Centres (FVSC). It is important that you seek help and if you are daunted by the prospect of having to take action against your perpetrator, these organisations can help you navigate these situations.
There will inevitably be increased violence and abuse during this period of time, when tensions run higher. It is therefore important that you learn to protect yourself from the likelihood of any abuse. However, you will only receive help if you take the step forward to put a stop the abuse that you and/or your family members are facing.
ABOUT PKWA FAMILY LAW At PKWA Law, our team of Family Lawyers are consistently named as leading Singapore family and divorce lawyers by respected legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, Asian Legal Business, Singapore Business Review and Doyle’s Guide to Leading Singapore Family & Divorce Lawyers. Contact us at tel 6854-5336 for a free first consultation.