Since 2014, Clare Walker has been a Domestic Abuse Expert Witness in tribunal courts working with immigration solicitors and their clients who are going through Immigration and or Asylum procedures whom are also claiming to be victims of domestic abuse. The whole process is based on a confidential meeting held with a client, this is organised by the clients Solicitor. From that meeting a report is created giving Clare’s expert opinion and assessment of the clients experiences, from content, context & presentation. Additionally if required too as an Clare will attend court Expert Witness for any further questioning.
As a Domestic Abuse Expert Witness when Clare meets with each client to discuss their claim to being a victim of domestic abuse after introductions are complete, the first issue to address is to create a feeling a safety, for the client to be able to speak freely, about personal and intimate experiences involving themselves and their loved ones. This is an enormously distressing recount in detail of their traumas and experiences. As a victim, we already know that they will carry the shame of the abuse they have suffered, which is why it is so important to create that feeling of safety.
At the end of the meeting Clare explains to the client what the process is from that point. More often than not, this is the last point of contact that Clare has with the client. From Clare’s 25+ years of experience and knowledge of domestic abuse and within the context of the government’s current definition of domestic abuse, it is from all of these considerations, an outcome of opinion is achieved – which is impartial, independent and correct; just as the Court requires it.
This has in some cases required Clare to attend the Tribunal Courts as a Domestic Abuse Expert Witness for cross examination and questioning of the contents of a report. So far Clare’s reports, we are delighted to say, have given a 100% success rate in the Courts decision at the hearing. Unfortunately we have to report that some of Clare’s clients have not been victims, but have presented a claim to be, sadly these are the kinds of things people will do when they are desperate or have wealth and power – which is why the role of an Expert Witness is very much needed. The majority of the clients Clare has met with have experienced significant levels of domestic abuse including sexual violence, Modern Day Slavery, Sexploitation and Human Trafficking. We believe that the clients Clare sits before are under the radar from the Home Office and beyond, leaving them with an increased vulnerability in the fact they are silent and invisible – their experiences are not generally picked up by agencies such as the police and on occasions where there has been police involvement, the police appear ill equipped to see beyond ‘cultural traditions’ including ‘domestic’ situations.
By applying this approach, experiences of victims can be assessed and seen for what they are clearly and fairly – without falling into the trap, as so many do, of unwittingly colluding with the perpetrators and therefore further oppressing the victims.
If you are working with clients who claim to be victims of domestic abuse who are additionally going through the processes of immigration – or asylum. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the possibilities of working together, regularly or as a one off case either as an Expert Witness or as a Domestic Abuse Consultant.
If this is your situation or if this is a client group you work with at your Legal practice, then why not contact us? Let us see if we can create a good situation from a bad one for your clients.
Read more about Clare’s work in immigration see this blog post CWC working in immigration.