Changes under the Domestic Abuse Bill which will provide further protection to victims of domestic abuse

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What are the changes under the Domestic Abuse Bill?

Under the Domestic Abuse Bill, a raft of new amendments will be presented, providing greater protection for victims. The government are currently considering proposals to make non-fatal strangulation a specific criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison. The act involves an abuser strangling or intentionally affecting the victim’s ability to breathe, to include suffocation.

There are other changes which the government are considering to the Domestic Abuse Bill, to include strengthening legislation around controlling or coercive behaviour – no longer making it a requirement for abusers and victims to live together. The change follows a government review which highlighted those who leave abusive ex-partners can often be subjected to sustained or increased controlling or coercive behaviour post-separation.

Further, ‘revenge porn’ laws will be widened to include threats to share intimate images.

Who will the changes affect?

The measures confirmed will be a significant change in the law for men and/or women experiencing domestic abuse or being threatened with the sharing of their private intimate images. The Chair of Refuge has said “we are thrilled that the government has recognized the need for urgent change” Research has found that one in seven women have experienced these threats to share intimate images with the overwhelming majority experiencing them from a current or former partner alongside other forms of domestic abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Bill provides the perfect legislative vehicle for this change and the government has acted quickly and decisively. This is a victory for victims of domestic abuse and is a testimony to the power of working together for change.

What other amendments is The Government tabling to the Bill?

The Government is also tabling a number of other amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which will:

  • provide special measures in civil courts similar to those available in family courts. This could include the use of protective screens in court or the ability to give evidence via video links to support vulnerable courts users.
  • make it easier for victims who may prefer not to report abuse to avoid being cross-examined in person, by widening the list of evidence to prove abuse has occurred to include things such as a letter from a doctor or an employer.
  • clarify the use of ‘barring orders’ in the family courts to prevent abusive ex-partners from repeatedly dragging their victims back to court – which can be used as a form of continuing domestic abuse.
  • require public authorities conducting domestic homicide reviews to send a copy of their completed reports to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner – strengthening the opportunity to learn lessons and prevent future deaths.

How can we help?

The government appears to be listening and help is out there, but you do not have to live with or tolerate such abusive behaviour. If you are in an abusive relationship we can offer advice and assistance on domestic abuse and your legal situation.

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