The Law: A Brief Overview

There is no universally agreed definition of domestic abuse as it comes in so many forms and situations. The most all-encompassing definition, however, is that domestic abuse is any instance or pattern of incidents of violence, controlling, abusive, coercive or threatening behaviour in the context of a domestic or familial relationship.

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004

This Act extended provisions to help address and prevent domestic abuse by creating the specific new offence of ‘causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable child or adult’. This essentially means that if someone was to stay quiet about the circumstances of a domestic death, they are still able to be prosecuted for not stopping it or raising the alarm about it. This Act was amended in 2012 to include ‘causing or allowing serious physical harm’ to a vulnerable child or adult.

Serious Crime Act 2015 section 76

This created the new offence of ‘controlling and coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship’ meaning that emotional and psychological abuse that stopped short of physical contact became a criminal offence carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

Adoption and Children Act 2002 Section 120

This amended the definition of ‘harm’ as defined in the Children Act 1989 to include impairment from witnessing or hearing the mistreatment of of another. This meant that children regularly exposed to domestic incidents are able to be protected by law in England and Wales. This can include being removed from the family home for safeguarding.

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