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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
It was good to see and hear in the media last week that there are going to be potential changes in Domestic Abuse Laws in the future. It feels at last that some of the ‘mysteries’ around domestic abuse are being addressed. Not so long ago when using the term, ‘domestic abuse’ the immediate response was to imagine a battered and bruised female, a fragile woman ill-treated by a violent male. More recently ideas have changed and less visible types of abuse have been recognised and the stereotypical images have been challenged.
Recent changes in laws on coercive and controlling behaviour sadly don’t seem to have been as effective as they might, with charges being dropped in the majority of cases. However, the current proposed changes will hopefully have a positive effect.
Non-physical and economic abuse are to be added to the legal definition as one of the changes, I hope that this will give confidence to those that have suffered these forms of abuse to come forward and report what is happening to them. Too often I hear those who have been emotionally or financially abused minimise their experience because there are no visible means of proving it, but the fact is that scars are still left, even though they can’t be detected by the human eye.
I am so pleased that of the new measures planned to be introduced; abusers will no longer be able to cross examine their partners in court under the new laws. Those who have lived with an abusive partner and found the courage to leave need time to recover and for the wounds to heal and to be faced once more with their abuser in what is already a stressful situation, with that abuser in a position of power i.e. a cross-examiner, can be enormously intimidating and a very negative experience. All the historic feelings of disempowerment and worthlessness can return, leaving the recovering victim distressed and vulnerable to more abuse.
These are the changes that caught my attention leaving me feeling a little more optimistic that the fight against domestic abuse can be won. I am sure there are other measures being introduced and hopefully they too will improve outcomes for those brave enough to stand up to their abusers.