I was prompted to write this post by the report by the BBC yesterday of a case where a man was jailed for attempted kidnap of his ex-wife http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-36701724

The man in question was jailed for four years by a jury and was found to have committed the offence whilst on licence for a six year jail term for setting fire to the home of an ex-partner.  Clare’s Law is designed to protect women from cases just like this. Clare’s Law – named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009 – came into force across England and Wales in March 2014 and Scotland in October 2015.  Since the Law was passed in England and Wales, over 1300 disclosures were made in the first year.

Clare’s Law allows anyone who is worried that a partner may harm them or a friend or relative of someone who may be harmed to request disclosure of any previous records of abusive behaviour perpetrated by that partner.  The police and partner agencies check for any previous records of abusive offences and will decide whether to share this information.

This sharing of information can be vital to victims and potential victims of abuse.  Abuse often takes place behind closed doors and victims often fear that they won’t be believed.  Victims also often believe the abuse they suffer is their fault and if they behave ‘better’, the abuse will stop.  Neither of these things are true and Clare’s Law provides a reality check for victims to fully understand the risk they are in and helps victims to have the courage to leave an abusive relationship and seek the help necessary to keep them safe afterwards before it’s too late.

Abusers are generally abusive in every relationship they have so being able to trace this pattern is crucial and depends on victims of abuse having the courage to report their partner’s behaviour to the police.  The important thing to remember is that if you are fearful for a friend or relative, you can ask for disclosure for them.  Details of how to do this are published on police websites; just search for Clare’s Law in your own County.

Clare Wood’s father, Michael Brown, campaigned hard to get this protection available to other potential victims and we should all be grateful for the number of people that his tenacity has protected.  However, the Law only works when previous victims have spoken out and reported their experiences.  This is very difficult for victims to do because they normalise their partners behaviour in order to be able to live through it.  Victims of abuse need the confidence to speak out and organisations such as Women’s Aid and Refuge can help with this but they are registered charities and need donations to survive. Next time you are donating clothes and toys or running a race and looking for a cause to support, please consider your local branch.

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