The 18th December 2014 saw the announcement by the government that it would introduce legislation to create a criminal offence of Coercive Control and controlling behaviour. I have been involved in the high profile campaign for this change with Paladin – the national stalking advocacy service, Women’s aid and the Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation whose successful drive convinced the government of the need for law change in less than 12 months. I believe that the creation of the new offence is long overdue and most people who I speak to are amazed to discover that psychological abuse is not already a criminal offence. Coercive control is the essence of domestic violence and the reason why perpetrators are able to commit serious acts of violence against their victims without the victim leaving or even contacting the police. By the time the perpetrator becomes violent the victim will already be psychologically broken and feel trapped with no way out. It is vital that we have the tools to enable this psychological terrorism to be prosecuted before it becomes violent so that victims are no longer turned away by the police and told to “come back when he hits you”. Congratulations to Paladin, Womens Aid and SCCF – this really will save lives.
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