16 Days of Activism 2020 – Day 10

Family Courts – institutional abuse

The Family Court system can be a crucial circuit breaker in cases of domestic abuse. It can also give rise to further abuse both from the abuser and the institution itself. While it should protect victim-survivors of domestic abuse, the Family Court can also give rise to further risk of harm and abuse, while many victim-survivors face numerous barriers when entering into the family law setting.

  •  A lack of understanding about the impact of coercive control and post-separation abuse can further entrench victim-blaming stereotypes such as asking why victims ‘didn’t just leave.’
  • Many victim-survivors are unable to afford legal representation and can be disadvantaged when self-representing.
  • Other victim-survivors find that the Family Court becomes another way for abusers to continue their coercive control and narcissism:

‘My perpetrator just found it another way to abuse me even more.’

‘It was just another way to continue to stalk and control me with the courts believing his lies by rubber stamping the order and allowing his behaviour to continue.’


Victim-survivors can find themselves within a system with no clear route to complain while having to balance the repercussions of filing a complaint against the professionals who hold all the power within their case. Trauma-informed legal practice is crucial and yet so often overlooked.

Changing Pathways welcomes the ongoing review by the government assessing the risk of harm to children and parents in private law children cases.

If you need support around Family Court matters, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. While we do not provide legal advice, we can signpost you to those who can.


Men’s Advice Line: 0808 8010327 –

Rights of Women:

Government Overhaul of Family Courts:

The Implementation Plan put forward by the Government in June 2020 can be found here: implementation-plan-assessing-risk-children.pdf

A Practical Guide to Coercive Control for Legal Practitioners and Victims by Rachel Horman is available here:

Dr Charlotte Proudman is working on a group appeal to show systemic failings of #FamilyCourts:

#thecourtsaid is a Campaign for Survivor Family Justice:

#femicide @womensaid #16DaysofActivism #orangetheworld #EVAWG2020

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