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Emotional abuse is a grey area within the realm of abuse as many people don’t know what constitutes emotional abuse or how it is perpetrated on an individual. Victims of emotional abuse believe that abuse is a ‘strong’ word and don’t think they are ‘abused’ but this is far from the truth.
Emotional abuse can be committed in various ways for example; name calling, undermining the victim by making them feel as if their opinion is irrelevant, overlooking the victims opinions and feelings making them feel oversensitive, unpleasant sarcastic comments, intimidation and/or threats which make a person feel in fear or inferior to the abuser and being made to feel guilty as a means of manipulation.
Emotional abuse is not about whether the behaviour is abusive but it is how it makes the victim feel and if it makes them feel inferior, controlled and/or puts them down then it’s considered abusive.
Coercive and controlling behaviour falls hand in hand with emotional abuse and again is something that can be overlooked. Coercive and controlling behaviour is a means of making the victim solely dependent on the abuser for support by depriving them of their own free will essentially making the victim a puppet.
Coercive and controlling behaviour can vary in extremities but can take place by; isolating the victim from their friends and family by stopping them from going out or making the victim feel guilty for going out, controlling the finances, monitoring what the victim does and how long they do something, continuously putting the victim down, not allowing the victim to attend appointments alone or leave the house by themselves.
The Home Office undertook a review of the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour which was published in March 2021. The report detailed that there were 4,246 offences recorded in 2016/2017 which escalated to 24,856 offences in 2019/2020. It is hopeful that this increase is due to an awareness of knowledge and reporting in respect of coercive and controlling behaviour since its introduction as a criminal offence in 2015 by The Serious Crime Act. Unfortunately the conviction rates of this offence are worryingly low with only 1,112 defendants being prosecuted in 2019. To tackle this low prosecution rate the report details key findings which focuses on encouraging the pursuance of conviction, better training for legal professionals and first hand responder’s and general awareness raising.
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 now includes a definition of domestic abuse which encompasses both emotional abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. This act provides victims of domestic abuse with more support and protection in the judicial system. It emphasises the notion that domestic abuse is not just physical abuse but economic, emotional, coercive and controlling which can equally be as damaging.
If you believe you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harm, then please report it to the police on 999 or alternatively report any non-emergencies to 101.