Domestic abuse now a criminal offence in the UK

P1000496Controlling or coercive behaviour became a crime last week punishable by up to 5 years in prison under s76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said “Being subjected to repeated humiliation, intimidation and subordination can be as harmful as physical abuse with many victims stating that it had a more lasting impact”

The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional

I posted last week on this subject not realising this amendment to the law was due. India Knight wrote about it in the Sunday Times describing such psychological abuses as seeking to break (someone’s) spirit – their soul. And being the weapon of choice of the truly low.

Well that’s one way to describe these bullies. I can think of other ways to describe them. And like all bullies they need to be stood up to and this new law will perhaps add some teeth to that.

The CPS can accept evidence in e-mails, from bank accounts and witness statements from friends and family. The changes in the law have been welcomed by Women’s Groups and other campaigners.

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Domestic abuse. Where does it start?

bully_picking_fight_1600_wht_11656-2Just over a year ago I posted on this topic following comments from Seema Malhotra the then shadow minister for preventing violence against women and girls.

As it’s that time of year when people often think about making changes in their lives I thought it worth re-posting with an updated checklist.

Malhotra had said that undermining someone’s self-esteem, for example, could be part of a broader pattern of behaviour, “Psychological abuse can be an indicator of physical abuse in the future or an indication of physical abuse that has happened in the past”.

It can be a part of a pattern of controlling behaviour that leaves people feeling fearful and terrorised in their own homes”.

And that could include being critical of someone’s appearance e.g. saying they look fat or their clothes are not trendy enough, or anything done to control or undermine someone.

Domestic abuse is usually thought of as something men do to women but it can be the other way round and affects people from all backgrounds and ethnicity. It’s estimated that 12 million women and 2.6 million men have been victims of domestic abuse with 30% of women experiencing it since they were sixteen years of age.

It is now the single biggest category of offence in Britain comprising almost 10% of the Crown Prosecution Service’s workload. The figures for harassment rose 13% last year (2013) but the number of prosecutions dropped as victims failed to attend court or retracted their evidence.

The government has a new initiative about abuse which you can read about here.

I reblogged a post a while ago which listed the ways you can be abused but it has disappeared. But here is a list based on one from an organisations which supports SaferLancashire. There will be similar organisations in your area.

  • Are you afraid of your partner?
  • Do you feel as if you have to walk on eggshells to avoid your partner getting angry?
  • Do you get emotional abuse such as insults, belittling comments, ignoring you, sulking or anger when you suggest doing something?
  • Are you told who you can be friends with?
  • Are you told how you should dress?
  • Does your partner try to control other aspects of your life?
  • Does your partner get jealous for no reason?
  • Is your partner physically abusive e.g. grabbing or pushing you not just hitting you, to get their own way?
  • Does your partner have extreme mood swings to the extent you have had to  modify your behaviour to avoid them?
  • Does your partner make all the financial decisions or control your money?
  • Do you find it impossible to express your own opinions and ideas because you fear an angry response?

Saying YES to 2 or more of these may mean you are in an abusive relationship.

You have a right to feel safe. Contact your local helpline in confidence NOW! Don’t let a bully ruin your life.

Teenagers, what can you do with them?

rioters_rock_car_500_wht_12691Apparently shouting at them only makes their behaviour worse.

Research at the University of Pittsburgh found that “harsh verbal discipline was detrimental in all circumstances”

They found that 13 year-olds whose parents had shouted at them suffered more depressive symptoms the following year than their peers who were not disciplined in that way. They were also more likely to misbehave at school, lie, steal, and fight.

The researchers followed almost 1,000, mainly middle-class, 13 and 14-year old children and their parents for two years asking how much verbal discipline was used. They also asked about the parent-child relationships, parental warmth and the feelings of teenagers and their parents.

Previous studies have concentrated more on physical discipline so this is one of the first to look at ver. The professor who led the research said that “teenagers feel insulted and it reduces their self-esteem. Sometimes they wonder if their parents love them and it hurts.”

The NSPCC said that a parent swearing and shouting at children may be emotionally abusing them and that adult survivors of child abuse say it’s the emotional abuse which lasts the longest.