The home secretary has announced a new offence for “coercive and controlling” behaviour within relationships in an attempt to tackle domestic abuse.
Up until very recently domestic abuse has largely been swept under the carpet by governments and police forces, but this summer a review was carried out by the government on whether or not domestic abuse laws needed to be changed.
Previously there were laws dealing with harassment and assault, but prosecutors were unwilling to use these within the domestic setting.
The new laws apply to situations that are common in domestic abuse, such as the abuser controlling the victim’s social life, finances or basic functions – such as when the victim can eat or go to the toilet. Evidence of this can include witness testimony and documents such as emails, text messages and bank statements.
Domestic abuse is very hard to pin down, as the abuser asserts so much control over the victim that the victim is unable to leave or to even recognise what is happening. It is hoped that this new law will give prosecutors more power to bring abusers to justice.
However, it is also widely recognised that there needs to be a massive cultural shift in attitudes towards domestic violence. There are many murders each year from domestic abuse situations, making it a very serious issue. Yet the complexities of the psychological impact of domestic abuse make it very difficult to spot, as it can seem like the victim is staying willingly with the abuser.
Domestic abuse is a very dangerous situation for victims and their children. If you are in this situation then you can get emergency help. At Grant Stephens Family Lawyers in Cardiff we have a wide range of experience in dealing with domestic abuse cases. If you are at all concerned, please get in touch.