Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by RISE (DAB88)

Evidence to support the amendment for domestic abuse survivors’ anonymity in the press.


RISE is the Brighton-based domestic abuse charity which runs services for women, children and LGBTQ+ people. RISE has recently campaigned for a change in the law to protect domestic abuse survivor anonymity in the press.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas tabled an amendment on the 4th of June 2020 to the Domestic Abuse Bill which is at committee stage. Jess Phillips MP and Peter Kyle MP have added their names to this amendment. It is now tabled as NC 14 on page 27 of the Public Bill Committee document: (1)


Currently the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) lays out guidance relating to privacy (2) However, on 18 June 2019 it was confirmed in a fact finding telephone call with IPSO that everything stated in court can be printed by the media (3). IPSO stated that unless the judge places an injunction on any information including names of victims, then papers are within legal rights to report all information stated in court. This means that currently, domestic abuse survivors’ privacy and safety can be compromised by their names being printed.

IPSO confirmed that the law protecting sexual assault survivors (4) was a matter separate to the IPSO guidance – as it is law. Guidelines suggest best practice rather than set a legal precedent, which means guidelines are not mandatory. This is why RISE has proposed an amendment to the domestic abuse bill to protect domestic abuse survivors’ legally with anonymity in the press in the same way that sexual assault survivors currently are protected.


RISE believes that domestic abuse survivors should have their anonymity protected in law for several reasons:

· In early 2019, RISE survivors cases were reported on in local newspaper The Argus and lead to the named women receiving abuse and harassment, demonstrating a need to protect survivors’ wellbeing and safety.

· DA survivors are most likely to be killed within the first year of leaving the relationship (5). It is key that survivors are kept safe during this period. Naming them could heighten risk of serious harm or death for a survivor and their child/children).

· Survivors of domestic abuse often have PTSD. Going through a court case is an anxiety-inducing ordeal in itself. Naming the survivor publicly can add to feelings of being interrogated and judged – which can worsen the health of the survivor and puts them at further risk.

· A survivor may not have disclosed their situation to their employer, friends and family, which is (and should be) their choice. The current system takes away this autonomy and leaves the survivor open to being judged or related to differently.

· There is often overlap in cases of domestic abuse and sexual abuse, so having two different rules for survivors of each is arbitrary. Furthermore, sexual abuse and violence are often present but undisclosed in disclosed cases of domestic abuse due to the latter being more distinguishable as abuse in most cases.

· If survivors know they will be named in the press, they are less likely to report domestic abuse in the first place.

Domestic abuse survivor testimony

Two RISE service users agreed to anonymously give evidence of the impact of being named in the press had on their lives. Their statement follows:

The first of the two survivors said:

"My daughter had to be informed by the school after the article named me as all the parents at school were aware, as well as the children because it was all over social media. It made me feel that I was still being controlled, I felt vulnerable and exposed. I feel so much hurt for my little girl, she didn’t need to know, the impact on her is huge, she is hypervigilant and gets very scared on the bus if someone is on their phone as she believes they are filming her. I never want another child to go through what my child went through."

The second of the two survivors said:

"None of my family knew, neither did my employer. I felt a lot of shame and then seeing my name in the article and the awful comments made below the article were dreadful, there was racial abuse online. I felt sad, ashamed, embarrassed and violated. Something that took a lot of courage for me to report and everyone got to know about it. Even now I find myself googling my name for fear of it popping up again. There is an added layer of shame when I already had enough to process with regard to being abused."

Context during coronavirus lockdown

Coronavirus has meant the UK amongst other countries is on lockdown. Lockdown for domestic abuse survivors means being stuck at home with their perpetrators without the reprieve of family, work or hobbies that would mean time apart. Perpetrators who aim to keep survivors isolated from loved ones can do so more easily, using lockdown as an excuse.

Devastatingly, we’ve seen a spike in domestic abuse homicides of women and children reported in UK-wide news (6), and there has been a rise in the proportion of crime that is domestic-abuse related in Sussex (7). The increase in cases of domestic abuse means it’s likely there will be an increases in court cases very soon, which is why this amendment needs to be accepted and the law changed.

RISE support survivors to leave these relationships if they are in a position to do so – and we’ve been continuing to support domestic abuse survivors throughout the coronavirus lockdown, providing a lifeline to those who need it.

However, as women who leave their perpetrators are at the most risk of violence within the first year of leaving their abusive relationship (5) and this is more than likely to coincide with the time at which they take their perpetrator to court, this heightens the risk to their safety. Right now, anything said in Magistrates’ court can legally be printed in the press (8) - including domestic abuse survivors’ names.

Having to take a perpetrator to Magistrates’ court is enormously brave and is an anxiety-inducing experience for survivors, who have already been through great trauma from their abusive relationships. They should not have to face being named in the press. RISE wants survivors’ anonymity and therefore safety to be protected in law, so they can draw a line under their experience and move on to rebuild their lives.

Public support

RISE launched a petition on the 19th of May aimed at Victoria Atkins MP and Alex Chalk MP who are guiding the Domestic Abuse Bill through committee stage. This petition on the 9th of June 2020 has acquired 840 signatures (9) and is on track for 1,000 signatures by 1 month after launch.

June 2020





(4) Sexual assault guidance and legislation

The IPSO editors code

Clause 11 says the press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so.

CPS Witness protection and anonymity

The court also has relevant powers under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, as amended by the YJCEA 1999, schedule 2. The victim in a case of rape or one of the sexual offences listed in the 1992 Act is entitled to 'anonymity' in the press. Once an allegation of one of the relevant offences has been made, nothing can be published which is likely to lead members of the public to identify the victim. The offences listed in the 1992 Act include most offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, part 1.

(5) (1) In 2018, 37 women had separated or taken steps to separate from their male partner when they were killed by them...89% [were killed] within the first year [of separation]. From the 2018 Femicide Census: 2018 Findings, p. 24

(6) Researchers at the Counting Dead Women Project told MPs 14 women and two children had been killed in the first three weeks of lockdown. BBC News article, 2020:

(7) RISE CEO Jo Gough reported from a meeting with Sussex Police on 27th of April 2020 that there had been an increase in domestic abuse crimes of 4% on last year in the same period, as well as the proportion of overall crime being domestic abuse related had increased 6% from 15% last year to 21% this year.

(8) IPSO document Court reporting: what to expect, p.5:



Prepared 18th June 2020