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New law to help stamp out domestic violence

At present there is ambiguity and inconsistency in the way police forces deal with domestic abuse and this move is aimed at removing the uncertainty. The Home Office defines domestic abuse as “…controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse…”, and they are targeting behaviour involving “… a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”
Living with the threat of violence in an intimate relationship is as emotionally damaging as physical harm. Victims are also often subjected to emotional abuse by being cut off from family and friends or having their freedom limited by being refused money; unfortunately, this controlling behaviour is often overlooked.
Don Bird, senior partner and head of Atherton Godfrey’s Family department, said: “The damage done by repeated non-violent coercive and controlling behaviour cannot be underestimated and needs to be recognised by the criminal justice system if victims are to have the confidence to come forward and, crucially, offenders are to rethink their controlling behaviour.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, said the change, if implemented, could help give victims greater confidence to speak out sooner, and added: “This is a vital step forward for victims of domestic violence.
“Two women a week are killed by domestic violence, and in our experience of working with survivors, coercive controlling behaviour is at the heart of the most dangerous abuse. This move demonstrates a strong commitment from the Home Office to listening to victims of abuse in framing the law that serves them.”

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