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Home Office Consultation on Domestic Violence

  • Forseti
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01 Feb 12 #309758 by Forseti
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The government proposes to change the definition it uses itself, not the definition used in law (see Yemshaw). I wonder why we need more than one definition.

The Home Office clearly disregards the current definition and uses its own which is highly gendered; what is the point in producing a new definition for the use of government departments if they ignore it?

  • timetoheal
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01 Feb 12 #309780 by timetoheal
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The current definition defines domestic violence as:
‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse [psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional]4 between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality’.

This definition includes psychological, financial and emotional abuse. I have read many posts on this thread stating that DV is a physical act but the reality is that the impact of psychological, emotional and financial abuse can have a devestating effect on people and the effects can be as long lasting as any physical abuse. Often you are left feeling totally useless, helpless and alone. In many cases the level of abuse increases over time and can become physical.

Many of us are parents. If our child was being bullied we would want the issue addressed. In many cases this bullying does not take a physical form but we see the devestating effects.

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse (IMHO) but I do feel that is is already covered by the current definition. I think the greater problem is how the definition is interpreted by all the agencies involved.

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01 Feb 12 #309782 by WYSPECIAL
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I don''t think it is used, or understood, enough as it is and it already covers what it needs to cover.

How many people who have separated go to pick their children up, often for court ordered contact, only to find them not in or some lame excuse as to why they can''t come?

How many of those parents realise that they have been financially and emotionally abused and get themselves down to the local Police station to report the offender?

The current definition is fine it simply needs to be understood and used.

  • rubytuesday
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01 Feb 12 #309785 by rubytuesday
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CNB wrote

Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse

Yes it is - no-one is disputing that. But what coercive control is not, is violence, and it is under the banner of Domestic Violence that the Government are seeking to add coercive control, not that of Domestic Abuse. It is because the Govt seek to add coercive control to the definition of Domestic Violence that concerns me - psychological/emotional abuse is not violence (this has been covered in previous posts on this thread).

Wyspecial makes a very valid and pertinent point regarding the withholding of contact. I would suggest that willfull withholding of contact is actually emotional abuse, both to the parent expecting contact and to the child[ren] involved. Yet, the Govt don''t seem to recognise this.

And as to why we "need" more than one definition, I am still waiting for the Home Office to answer my latest email, asking just that question ( I don''t expect a full answer).

I still struggle to see how a proper definition of coercive control can be reached, and for that definition to be asserted correctly, without those who seek to manipulate the law to thier own advantage - should coercive control be classed as Domestic Violence, I would expect to see a high increase in the numbers of false allegations made, in particular against men. Isn''t making false allegations against someone in an effort to have them removed from the house (and often as an attempt to remove the father from the children''s lives) a form of coercive/controlling behaviour?

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01 Feb 12 #309802 by timetoheal
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What is the difference between domestic abuse and domestic violence? I am struggling with this one. Are either acceptable?
Many forms of domestic abuse are not crimes.
Domestic violence is not a criminal act(as far as I know and I may be wrong) but when physical assaults occur they can be. The government is (IMHO) looking to make the definition clearer for the agencies that help people that need it. They are trying to make sure people have support to get out of bad situations.
Is there not a distinction between violence and domestic violence?

  • sexysadie
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02 Feb 12 #309821 by sexysadie
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I take Ruby''s point, but if this is going to affect access to legal aid in divorce the definition needs to be extended. It is hard enough to get out of an abusive relationship without having to represent oneself facing the abuser in court. We also need to be able to campaign for safeguards to prevent people who have suffered domestic violence from having to be cross-examined by their abusers in the divorce court. Again, if coercive control is not excluded, the abuser will be able to continue the abuse through court action. We know this happens now (and also happens to rape victims) and it does need to be stopped.

Best wishes,

  • hadenoughnow
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02 Feb 12 #309894 by hadenoughnow
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This is a very tricky area. I cannot think that anyone would argue that domestic abuse is only present where there are signs of physical damage. Under the Every Child Matters rules, teachers are urged to be aware of signs of abuse that may be much more subtle but equally damaging.

One of the problems is that the level of damage can be hard to quantify. For some people, one incident is enough for them to gather the courage to get out. For others it can go on for years .. and even where there is no obvious violence, abuse can lead to huge problems with self confidence as we have seen all too often here on wiki.

Co-ercive control is an interesting area. Again it can be hidden and sometimes to the extent that it is not until you are no longer subject to it that you realise what was going on. I well remember the counsellor I was seeing pointing out that my now ex was highly manipulative. In his case it was depression and alcohol abuse that manifested themselves on a regular basis and had a severe impact on the lives of me and the children. If being scared stiff when you cannot get an answer from home that you will arrive back to find he had done something dreadful to himself and even the children is not an example of mental torture then I don''t know what is. However I am not sure how that would play out in the context of a definition of domestic abuse. Was it a deliberate act? Or was it, as he would no doubt argue, an unfortunate by-product of his mental health problems?
Whatever it was, the consequences for the family were the same.

And on the point of continuing the abuse through court action .. well, I am pretty sure that the protracted and vitriolic nature of the (very costly) AR proceedings was indeed a further manifestation of his manipulativeness. It certainly put the children and I through a further 2-3 years of sheer hell that I am very glad is now well and truly over.


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