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Domestic Abuse – Changes on the Horizon

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By Lora Clark

Yesterday in the House of Commons the Labour MP for Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, received a standing ovation after telling MPs of her own domestic abuse recounting tearfully experiences of coercive control.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone in any walk of life. Statistics show that almost 2 million adults in England and Wales are thought to be victims of domestic abuse every year. Many instances of domestic abuse are unreported with victims associating domestic abuse only with physical violence.

The Domestic Abuse Bill introduced by Theresa May’s government is getting its second reading after its progress was halted by the recent suspension of Parliament.

The bill proposes the first government definition of domestic abuse which will include financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour. This has been commonly referred to as “gaslighting”.

The bill will mean a significant step in protecting victims from not only physical abuse but also the more silent and methodical forms of abuse over long periods of time.

Victims are presently offered protection by applying themselves to the Family Court for injunctive style orders such as non-molestation orders and occupation orders and these can be very effective for prohibiting further abuse and offering immediate protection.

The new Domestic Abuse Bill does now introduce wider powers for the police and the courts to take effective action to better protect victims and restrain offenders under the more wide reaching definition.

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