Amendments made to the legal definition of domestic violence could result in criminal charges brought against both men and women for controlling behaviour and emotional abuse. Hence, such persons could face prosecution in a court of law.
The definition of domestic violence has been expanded. On Wednesday 19th September 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced a new definition of Domestic violence. The new definition will now include ‘controlling behaviour ‘ and ‘coercive control or threatening behaviour’ such as depriving a partner of money,taking control of their finances or isolating them from friends and family. It could also cover ‘economic control’ and the manipulation of children. The expanded definition will also mean that under-18s could potentially be charged with domestic abuse.
The definition also includes so-called ‘honour’ attacks, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and make it clear that victims are not confined to one gender. However, the new definition will not be written into law nor will it change the law, but Police and prosecutors would be required to use the new definition when identifying and monitoring cases involving men and women who abuse their partners in a ‘controlling’ manner. Hence, such persons could face criminal charges.
The 2004 definition “only refers to acts of physical violence” and defines domestic violence as a “single act or incident.” The new definition will be implemented in March 2013.
According to Women’s Aid, this new definition recognises that patterns of behaviour and separate instances of control can add up to abuse – including instances of intimidation, isolation, depriving victims of their financial independence or material possessions and regulating their everyday behaviour.
The new definition of domestic violence and abuse now states:
“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:
The government defines ‘controlling behaviour’ as “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.”
and ‘coercive behaviour’ as “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.”
- Emotional Abuse of women in Muslim Households (islamiclifestylemagazine.wordpress.com)