New laws to protect domestic violence victims

new amendments being added to strengthen victim support in domestic violence cases
new amendments being added to strengthen victim support in domestic violence cases

This week the Domestic Abuse Bill returns to the House with a number of amendments which, providing greater protections for victims whilst clamping down harder on perpetrators of domestic violence.

The proposals include making non-fatal strangulation a criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison. The act typically involves an abuser strangling or intentionally affecting their victim’s breathing in an attempt to control or intimidate them. This had always been difficult as it rarely leaves a mark making it difficult to prove.

The Government will also strengthen legislation around controlling or coercive behaviour so it no longer requires abusers and victims to live together. This means those nasty ex-partners who just won’t stop will finally be made to stop the abuse and control.

The ‘revenge porn’ laws which were introduced by the Government in 2015 – will be extended to include threats with the intention to cause distress. It was clear that even if images were not posted, repeated threats of posting such images was coercive, controlling and harmful. This step should offer more protection for victims, particularly those fearful of leaving an abusive because of fear around intimate images being shared.

Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC MP said:

This Bill provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to strengthen our response to domestic abuse and its many forms.

From outlawing non-fatal strangulation to giving better protections in court – we are delivering the support victims need to feel safer while ensuring perpetrators face justice for the torment they have inflicted.

On top of the above changes, the Government are also tabling a number of other amendments to further improve the Bill which includes:

  • special measures in civil courts similar to those available in family courts like protective screens in court or the ability to give evidence via video.
  • widening the list of evidence to prove abuse has occurred to include things such as a letter from a doctor or an employer to help reduce the need for cross examination.
  • clarify ‘barring orders’ to prevent abusive ex-partners from repeatedly dragging their victims back to court..
  • require copies of domestic homicide review reports to be sent to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner so we can learn more and help prevent future deaths of this nature.

The Home Office has also announced a number of organisations that will receive funding to carry out research into domestic abuse perpetrators. The aim of the fund is to develop our understanding of domestic abuse perpetrators and to strengthen the evidence base for what works in addressing their behaviour. The 11 successful organisations can be found here.

At the same time, the Government is investing hundreds of millions to deliver swifter justice and support victims. This includes a recent 40mil funding pot to recruit more specialist counsellors to help victims recover.

If you have been a victim of domestic violence and need help visit

https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

If you are a perpetrator looking to change how you behave seek help at:

https://respectphoneline.org.uk/

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