Shake-Up Of Domestic Violence Laws Planned – December 2011
Ministers are planning a shake-up of domestic violence laws that could see “controlling” partners face criminal charges.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to launch a new consultation within days aimed at bringing in a legal definition of what constitutes abuse against a spouse or partner.
There were more than one million victims of domestic violence in England and Wales last year, according to the Home Office. Across the UK, one in four women are
likely to experience some level of domestic abuse. At present there is no specific criminal offence of domestic violence in Britain, although that may be about to change.
Survivors of domestic abuse have hailed the news as a step in the right direction. “When it starts off they are very careful and you don’t even realise it’s occurring,” said broadcaster Sonia Poulton, who was in an abusive relationship for three years. “The important thing people need to realise is that it isn’t just physical. He never laid a finger on me. “It’s more dangerous because it takes longer to realise what’s taking place.
“I went to bed every night and cried myself asleep because I was in love with him. “He would criticise my clothes, my hair, even my friends. When anyone called on the phone he would just stand there in the background… a seething, silent presence.”
The consultation could also be extended to take in those under 18 for the first time amid concern that teenage girls in particular are suffering at the hands of abusive boyfriends. The new definition would also cover women who bully their partners.