New law on domestic violence and abuse introduced

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A new law on domestic violence has been introduced, making it illegal for someone to exercise “coercive control” over their partner.

Coercive and controlling behaviour can include the abuser preventing their victim from having friendships or hobbies, refusing them access to money and determining many aspects of their everyday life, such as when they are allowed to eat and sleep.

I still bear emotional scars, I still cry quietly and wish my children didn’t have to suffer and feel guilty that they may have a distorted view of what a healthy relationship is.

Alison, from Warwickshire

The offence came into effect on December 29 and is subject to a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine, or both.

The news comes after a Warwickshire woman was subjected to coercive control by her partner, and only left when the abuse eventually became physical.

Alison (not her real name) said: “In the beginning I was lavished with attention from a perfectly caring partner. It started subtly, with comments about my appearance, then slowly visits to the supermarket or the gym were timed, he monitored everything I did, I was constantly tracked and controlled.

“He told me every day that I was ugly and useless.

“It was like being on a roller coaster of emotions and I was exhausted by it all.

“Looking back I don’t know how I managed as I was on constant high alert, always assessing, always planning, always appeasing - just surviving, not living.

“My message to anyone suffering from any kind of abuse is to tell someone, a friend, police or a support agency.

“I still bear emotional scars, I still cry quietly and wish my children didn’t have to suffer and feel guilty that they may have a distorted view of what a healthy relationship is, but I’ve broken the cycle of abuse and feel stronger, wiser and more resilient.”

Detective chief inspector, Vikki Reay from Warwickshire Police said: “We want to encourage anyone affected by domestic violence and abuse to seek help from the police or other partner agencies.

“Domestic abuse takes many forms and ultimately is about control, so this new law addressing coercive control should increase confidence in reporting abuse.”

Anyone who thinks they are being coercively controlled can visit the Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse (http://www.talk2someone.org.uk|website) or contact police on 101.