When we hear the words ‘domestic violence’, we naturally think of physical violence or aggression. However, emotional and financial abuse is just as dangerous.
Fiona* had a good job and children, but was emotionally and financially controlled by her partner for years until she found the strength to seek help and leave him. He applied for a Child Arrangements Order that the children would live with him, so Fiona had no choice but to seek legal advice.
The process of going through the courts was proving very costly and Fiona found herself having to take out a loan she could ill-afford to pay her legal fees. Even when her ex-husband rang her solicitors, they charged Fiona every time they had to speak to him, and on one bill alone from them she had to pay £120 just for his calls.
Her costs increased to £7000 and she still hadn’t finished court proceedings. At the end of her tether, she discussed it with her domestic violence support worker. As it happened, her DV worker had a copy of the Affordable Justice leaflet on her desk, gave Fiona the details…and she didn’t look back.
From her first meeting with Sue, they were in court two weeks later and sorted out the Child Arrangements Order within two sessions. Fiona is delighted with the result: “I didn’t feel that Sue was judging me, I was able to ask her anything” she says. “She’s very approachable, really easy to talk to and doesn’t make you feel stupid.
“If it wasn’t for Sue and Affordable Justice I would be badly in debt, so I’m really grateful that my DV worker had the Affordable Justice leaflet on her desk that day. Although our court proceedings are finished, I still have some legal bits to sort out and, thanks to Sue, I’ve now got the confidence to represent myself.
“I know that lack of money is a huge barrier for women who want to leave their partners, and I would recommend Affordable Justice to anyone who is in the situation I was. £47/hour compared to an average of £190 per hour plus VAT makes all the difference between staying in a horrible, dangerous situation or getting out and getting a better life.”
Sue said: “Representing such a courageous woman who had overcome incredibly difficult circumstances was a hugely rewarding experience. I saw first-hand how Fiona’s confidence increased and her anxiety lessened as the proceedings continued. The fact that she now has the confidence to represent herself is a really positive outcome for Fiona and indeed Affordable Justice”.
*Fiona’s name has been changed