A YEAR-LONG campaign to recognise psychological abuse as part of domestic violence bore fruit yesterday as the government introduced a Bill against “coercive and controlling behaviour.”
The amendment to the Serious Crime Bill came as a victory for the many women’s groups championing reforms to domestic violence laws including Women’s Aid and Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service.
Paladin chief executive Laura Richards said: “It is important that our laws reflect the reality of domestic violence.”
“It is about power and control and the psychological impact is significant.”
Banning someone’s friendships or leisure activities, as well as constantly controlling simple aspects of their daily lives like their access to the toilet, could soon be criminalised as abusive behaviour.
Governmental consultation found that 85 per cent of respondents felt existing measures did not properly protect victims of domestic violence.
Rushcliffe Borough domestic violence co-ordinator Wendy Green, who help draft the new Bill, said: “It can be very difficult to safeguard women because the current law doesn’t recognise psychological or financial abuse.
“This law is a huge step forward but it has to be accompanied with training and guidelines on investigation, evidence gathering and prosecution before it can be effective.”
But national domestic violence charity Refuge said that more legislation wasn’t the answer — instead existing laws simply need ot be implemented.
Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley added: “The police don’t even arrest when there is evidence of serious physical violence, so how are police and juries ever going to understand complex concepts like coercive control?”