Domestic Abuse Bill

Coercive Control to become an Offence in Northern Ireland

Women’s Aid ABCLN welcomes the news that domestic abuse offence legislation to protect victims from coercive control is to be extended to Northern Ireland in a Home Office Domestic Abuse Bill introduced in the House of Commons this week.

Coercive control has been a crime in England and Wales since 2015, but without a functioning Assembly a Northern Ireland Bill could not be brought forward locally.

Women’s Aid ABCLN CEO Rosemary Magill says “Women’s Aid has campaigned over several years to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, and we are delighted that this provision will at last criminalise coercive control in Northern Ireland and ensure that much needed protection is provided for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.”

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is a deliberate and calculated pattern of controlling behaviour and psychological abuse designed to isolate, manipulate and terrorise a victim into complete fearful obedience.”

The proposed Domestic Abuse Bill will cover psychological, emotional, and financial abuse as well as physically violent, threatening and intimidating behaviour.”

“Often the biggest victims of domestic abuse are the smallest. We know that in 90% of incidents children are in the same or the next room when domestic abuse happens, and importantly this legislation will apply where a child sees, hears or is present during an incident of domestic abuse. Where a child is involved, the sentence could be increased up to the maximum available.”

Rosemary said that last year Women’s Aid ABCLN supported 92 women and 66 children affected by domestic violence in their refuge.

On top of this, 1,129 women and 1,215 children were supported in the local community by their outreach support services across Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey.

One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Women’s Aid ABCLN is working towards a society where domestic violence will not be tolerated, perpetrators will be held to account, and women and children can live free from the fear or threat of abuse.

For more information call Women’s Aid ABCLN on 028 25 632136 or go to womens-aid.org.uk.

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