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December 18, 2015

New Legislation.

This month saw the coming into force of new legislation around coercive control. Coercive control has now been criminalised as an offence under The Serious Crime Act 2015.

Under section 76 (1) of the Act ‘a person (A) commits an offence if: (a) A repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive, (b) at the time of the behaviour, A and B are personally connected, (c) the behaviour has a serious effect on B, and (d) A knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on B.’

This criminalisation of psychologically abusive behaviour provides an important legal protection to domestic abuse victim/survivors, who have previously been left vulnerable when experiencing non-physical abuse. The legislation is an important step in ensuring that domestic abuse is more readily recognised and it will provide support to criminal justice agencies such as the police, which have often struggled to respond adequately to non-violent abuse.

Traditionally, domestic violence has been understood to be isolated incidents of physical violence perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner. The term coercive control emphasises that it is not about fights, that abuse is on-going and that it comprises much more than physical violence. This is not to say that verbal and/or physical fights do not take place between partners, but it is important to distinguish between these and the social concern that is domestic abuse.

Even when we acknowledge the emotional, psychological, financial and sexual elements of domestic abuse, as practitioners we still focus primarily on acts of physical violence in our discussions and responses to domestic abuse. Talking about coercive control helps us to rethink what constitutes domestic abuse.

  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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