A Redcar mum whose abusive ex left her in thousands of pounds worth of debt has been forced to fend for herself in court because she doesn’t qualify for legal aid.

The woman was landed with the huge debts after breaking free from her partner who subjected her to horrendous physical and financial abuse.

And shockingly, the debt payments are now taken out of her account under court order before she even receives her pay that she earns from working to support her children.

The mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “After being subject to physical, mental and financial abuse for years, I have been left with thousands of pounds of debt.

“After breaking free I wanted to support my children by working as much as I could to bring the debt down.

“This could lead me to not qualify for legal aid. It’s all wrong.”

This week, the victim’s plight was brought up in Parliament by Anna Turley MP, who challenged justice ministers on legal aid rules which are letting down victims of financial abuse.

Redcar MP Anna Turley
Redcar MP Anna Turley

Speaking at Justice Questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Ms Turley said: “The cuts to legal aid are having a devastating effect.

“A constituent of mine is seeking legal aid having left a coercive controlling relationship in which she suffered not just physical abuse, but financial.

“Her former partner left significant debts in her name. Because she works, she doesn’t qualify now for legal aid due to her salary, but debt payments are taken out under court order before she receives her pay.

“She is left with no money for legal costs, but he gets legal aid because he doesn’t work.

“Surely this isn’t fair and will the minister review it?”

In her response, Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC MP said the government has done significant work on domestic violence, especially around recognising non-physical abuse as a serious issue.

She also stated the guidelines around legal aid for domestic abuse cases have been changed to make access easier.

Anna added: “I have been speaking to local charity Eva Women’s Aid and I have been alarmed to find this is affecting lots of women.

“Breaking free of a coercive, abusive relationship takes a tremendous amount of bravery and emotional strength for the women involved.

“The experience is distressing enough without the added pressure of not being able to take the perpetrator to court.

“The minister told me access to legal aid had been made easier for domestic abuse victims but this is obviously not the case if women are struggling.

“I will continue to campaign on this issue, working with local charity’s like EVA, to get victims the support they need.”

Women in coercive, abusive relationships can be subjected to financial abuse by their partner, as well as physical and emotional.

Victims may find themselves with personal debts to their name through no fault of their own.

Debts which leave them with little or no financial resources for legal aid.

Domestic abuse victim saddled with huge debts by ex
Domestic abuse victim saddled with huge debts by ex

Richinda Taylor, CEO of domestic abuse charity EVA Women’s Aid, said: “For a woman, who may be already disadvantaged financially, to not have access to legal aid can be devastating.

“Not only does this impact on her ability to break free from an abusive relationship but it potentially forces her to remain stuck in an impossible position, which can victimise her all over again.

“Financial abuse is an insidious form of controlling a victim, and is a situation we are supporting women with more and more frequently at EVA Women’s Aid.”

It comes after the family court at Middlesbrough heard from a woman who alleged rape and sexual assault against her ex husband.

Ten harrowing allegations were heard in the case to decide what contact her 10-year-old daughter should have with the father.

Details of the hearing emerged in a report by The Law Society Gazette.

Both parties in the case were unrepresented, leaving the court to prepare makeshift bundles, each litigant to prepare their own questions for cross-examination, and an alleged victim of domestic abuse with no moral and practical support in court.

After some time in the witness box the woman stopped giving evidence, saying she simply could not continue.



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