Every week I receive dozens of enquiries from victims representing themselves or victims who are unhappy with their representation in family court cases where coercive control is a feature. Coercive control is still not understood by the family courts in my view and victims quite rightly feel let down. As a solicitor working within the family court system I too feel frustrated by the system and the sometimes blinkered view taken by cafcass and the judiciary around issues of coercive control and narcissism. Unfortunately I do not have a magic wand and can only work within the current system although I do campaign for change along with many others.
When I was asked to write a book about coercive control for lawyers my first thought was for the many women who are forced to go through the court system alone and so I decided that I wanted my book to be of use to them as well as lawyers. I have tried to highlight some of the issues that victims need to consider and preparation for the family court process and also to try to help show how some victims of coercive control may be able to access legal aid.
My biggest criticism of the family courts is that many of those within it do not understand the subtleties of coercive control and are still stuck in a “why didn’t she just leave if it was so bad” frame of mind and there is very little understanding of the links between coercive control and homicide. Until this issue is properly understood findings of facts hearings (if you are lucky enough to get one) will continue to be conducted from a position of scepticism and sometimes disbelief leading to victims being labelled as attempting to frustrate contact and alienate the children
I hope that victims find my book helpful but what they deserve is a system that understands and protects women and children from this insidious and devastating form of abuse
A Practical Guide to Coercive Control for Legal Practitioners and Victims by Rachel Horman is available here: