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Domestic abuse and coercive control

Domestic abuse and coercive control

The figures for incidents of domestic abuse make stark reading. According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse over the period April 2018-March 2019.

In the UK, the number of people killed as a result of domestic violence hit its highest-level last year. Indeed, 173 people were killed in a domestic homicide, an increase of 32 on the previous year.  Moreover, it is the highest figure since 2014. Of those killed in a domestic homicide, over 75% were women.

What constitutes Domestic Abuse?

The proposed new definition set out in the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019 provides a broader interpretation as to what can be considered as domestic abuse:

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.

It encompasses, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Economic
  • Emotional

Coercive control

Domestic abuse does not have to be physical. Coercive control victims are isolated from their support network by the perpetrator through acts of threats, humiliation and intimidation.

Coercive control reports to police have doubled within the last year. The recent Sally Challen case has also brought the issue of coercive control to the fore.

Sally Challen had spent several years in prison for the murder of her husband. Her murder conviction was quashed in 2019 on the basis of diminished responsibility. Over the years leading up to the killing, she had been the victim of her husband’s coercive and controlling behaviour. As a result, she suffered from a personality disorder and severe mood disorder at the time of the killing. This was not taken into account at her trial. Her case has already triggered two further appeals from women who killed their husbands, and it is likely that more will follow.

What can be done to prevent domestic abuse?

There are legal measures that can be taken to help prevent domestic abuse. For example, you can apply for an ‘injunction’:

Of course, such injunctions will only ever be effective if they are enforced. There have been several stories in the press regarding offenders who breached a non-molestation order with no action being taken against them and subsequent repeat offending.

Seek confidential help

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, contact one of Wells Burcombe’s specialist Family lawyers for advice and support. You can also contact one of our complex crime experts to discuss a review of a conviction and or sentence where coercive control was a factor. Call us on 01895 449288  or email us via our contact page.

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