A new offence for domestic abuse article banner image

A new domestic violence offence of “coercive and controlling behaviour” within relationships has been announced today.

Woman Crying

Controlling behaviour can include the abuser making the victim dependent on them by:

• isolating them from their support,

• exploiting their recourses,

• depriving them of their independence and

• regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour may include:

• assaults,

• threats,

• humiliation and

• intimidation

which are used to punish, harm or frighten the victim.

Examples can include the abuser preventing their victim from having friendships or hobbies, controlling the victim financially, refusing them access to money and determining many aspects of their everyday life, such as when they are allowed to eat, sleep and go to the toilet.

The maximum penalty for the new offence will be five years in prison and a fine.
The new law widens the current law which prevents an abuser from being violent, stalking and harassing a victim. It is hoped that the law will protect victims from extreme psychological and emotional abuse, but whether it will result in conviction is at this stage unclear. It will be for the police to decide whether or not to arrest the abuser.

Controlling and coercive behaviour is included within the definition of molesting which prevents an abuser from ‘causing trouble, vexing, annoying and putting to inconvenience’. It is a ground on which an application can be made to the court for a non-molestation order for the victims’ safety and protection.

If you have been a victim of domestic abuse and need the courts protection, you can obtain an injunction for your safety and protection. Please contact us. We offer legal aid, and we can assess whether or not you qualify at an initial meeting and see how we can help you.

Sarah Bell is a lawyer in our family team and a member of Resolution. Sarah can be contacted on 01872 265100 or by email family.truro@stephens-scown.co.uk.