Changes to domestic abuse legislation to cover behaviour “tantamount to torture”
In December 2014, home secretary Teresa May announced a new domestic abuse offence of “coercive and controlling behaviour” carrying a penalty of a fine and a custodial prison sentence.
New offence, new penalties
It’s a major step forward in legislative recognition of how such behaviour can be “tantamount to torture”, and that domestic abuse extends beyond physical violence.
How LGFL can help
- Evidence of harassment
- Reading texts and emails with the aim to control
- Threatening emails and text messages
- Bank statements showing perpetrators trying to control victims
- Financial controls
- Prevention of hobbies
- Control/termination of friendships
- Complete regulation of daily routine
- Verbal abuse and denigration
- Isolation from family
How common is domestic abuse?
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW),
30% of women and 16.3% of men will experience some form of domestic abuse during their lifetimes. In addition, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) thematic review makes clear that anyone can experience domestic abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, class, age or disability.
What constitutes domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is defined as “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.” The behaviour covered includes “A pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim”
Polly Neate, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, says that:
“When we are talking about domestic violence it’s not the case that one argument crosses the line and it becomes an abusive relationship. It’s a pattern in the relationship where one partner is controlling and it is an ongoing sense of fear throughout the relationship.”
At LGFL, we can advise you on what may be considered coercive behaviour.
Both men and women can suffer from this treatment and the first step is seeking help.
Sources:Government advice Office for National Statistics (2013). Focus on violent crime and sexual offences 2012/13 – Chapter 4: Intimate Personal Violence and Partner Abuse.
Everyone’s Business: Improving the Police Response to Domestic Abuse’
Strengthening the Law on Domestic Abuse – A Consultation
Domestic Violence Parliament UK Domestic abuse coercive behaviour
Newspaper articles:The Guardian: Domestic abuse coercive behaviour The Telegraph: New domestic violence laws
The Telegraph: Domestic abuse, how do you tell