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Over the last 18 years, the government has debated and discussed the increasing social problem of domestic abuse within the UK and reinforced the provisions available to law enforcement agencies.

A the beginning of the 1990’s the Home Office took an approach to address and develop policy on domestic violence at a National and Multi-agency level.

By 2003, numerous policy documents surrounding domestic abuse and the increase in reports had been published and presented to the government. They reacted to these findings by proposing a strategy tackling prevention, protection and justice for victims of domestic abuse; supporting victims to rebuild their lives.

In June 2004, the very first cross-governmental definition of domestic abuse was established. It stated:

“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”.

This also was the first time that the Government had considered domestic abuse to include so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.

It also identified that “victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.”

However, the definition only supported persons who were aged 18 years or over.

There has never been a specific offence of “Domestic Violence”.

Between June 2009 and Nov 2011, the Police took positive action for offences committed during domestic-related incidents, including assaults, harassment, criminal damage and threatening behaviour.

By June 2011, the Home Office had discussed a new offence namely, Coercive Control. As there was no specific offence of continuous emotional abuse, the range of tactics used by perpetrators to control their partners were difficult for the Police to enforce.

However, it was not until the 31st March 2013 when the terminology of “coercive and controlling” behaviour was documented.

Further proposals included, criminalising breaches of non -molestation and occupation orders.

The revised definition of Domestic Abuse was published:

“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:

On 29th December 2015, an offence of Coercive Control became an offence under in the UK. The offence is not retrospective and can only be committed after this date.

This offence can be a range of acts committed or directed towards an intimate partner, causing them to feel frightened through threats of harm or punishment. These acts are designed to make a person feel subordinate and/or dependent on the abuser and they are generally committed over a period of time.

A victim of coercive control can struggle to report this offence to the police, as the things inflicted against them can appear to be minimal and not deemed as significant as violent acts.

It is really important to note, that you can explore the feelings you have about your relationship with a professional who will be able to identify with you, if you are being subjected to coercive control.

Contact Us

Call our family helpline on 08000 147720, send us an email or text LAW to 67777 to book a free information session at any of our offices. We also offer early morning and late evening appointments across our offices.