Posted by familylaw on 25th November 2013

On the 31st of March 2013 The Home Office introduced a new, much broader, definition of domestic violence and abuse to acknowledge and provide recourse from a myriad of harmful behaviours. (below)

This new definition highlights the various forms that abuse can take beyond the obvious, but no less devastating, physical violence. This new definition acknowledges the very real problems of psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse, and the manipulative fashion in which these behaviours are employed

Formally recognising these diverse and harmful acts is a welcome development. Domestic abuse organisations from around the country have been keen to see an official document recognising these issues and providing legal solutions for a number of years.

Over the course of this week we will be exploring some of these forms of abuse in more detail and highlighting some of the options people have if they feel that they are victims of any of these forms of abuse.

New definition

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”*

*This definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

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