Isolation and control in families living in rural areas

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Throughout 2019, increasing media attention has been given to the topic of rural domestic abuse. Indeed, Countryfile broadcasted a feature focusing on family isolation and control in rural communities. A report commissioned by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) identified that there is a shocking picture of domestic abuse in rural Britain. Families can be hidden, isolated, unsupported and unprotected. In short, the system is failing them.

The NRCN results (concluded after an 18-month intensive research project) show stark and disturbing findings. One finding is that the countryside is being deliberately used by abusers to isolate their victims. Charlotte Smith (a Countryfile presenter) highlighted the tragic story of Luke Heart who, with his family lived on a farm. Their father was controlling and over a 26-year period they suffered abuse. Both of Luke’s sisters were eventually killed by his father prior to his father shooting himself.

The violence became extreme, but it was part of an enduring pattern of coercive control which is seen in many families. Statistics show that, on average, domestic abuse and coercive control lasts 25% longer in most rural areas than it does in the towns. Police responses are often inadequate, support services are scarce, less visible and less effective in the countryside.

Rural victims need support and guidance which, historically, has often only been available to those living in towns and cities. Women’s Aid have identified that resources are being pumped into areas where the highest statistics are coming from. Unfortunately, those in rural areas do not report as much and therefore get less support.

The full report, and key issues raised, prepared by the NRCN can be downloaded here

Claire Dean, Head of Geldards Agricultural Team and Partner in the Family Department, has extensive experience of farming and rural cases and is trained as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor. Claire has vast experience of children cases and financial cases in rural communities and in particular concerning farms. She has a pragmatic and empathetic approach to her cases and has been described as innovative in her field.

Claire, comments:

"It is important to recognise that financial control, removal from friends, isolation from family are well understood tools of abuse. And specifically moving victims to rural settings can cause further isolation. A rural location can make it harder for victims to escape abuse and quite literally can make a victim feel captive.”

If you require advice or assistance with an agricultural or any other family matter, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Family team.




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Content Contacts


Claire Dean


Partner, Derby

+44 (0)1332 378 372