Domestic violence is one of the most difficult and sensitive topics that family law solicitors have to deal with, and the cases tend to be personal and can be incredibly tough for victims and their families
Though It’s unlikely that we can eradicate the threat of domestic violence altogether as there is no accounting for the behaviour of criminal individuals, but the justice system does have a responsibility to ensure those who act violently are punished appropriately.
Thus, the government has decided this month to reword the definition of domestic violence with the aim of addressing some key discrepancies.
Following a study from the British Crime Survey which found that those in the age range of 16-19 are the most likely to experience domestic violence, the new definition includes all of those over the age of sixteen.
By changing the law the government hopes not only to bring justice to those who previously would not have been able to prosecute, but it hopes to raise awareness of the problems of domestic violence in young people.
The second major change to the law is the inclusion of coercion and, as it is to be stated in statute, ‘coercive control’. This appears to be an umbrella term which will encompass all manner of behaviours that restrict the freedom of one of the partners in a relationship.
This will include both clear cut cases where individuals threaten or deliver physical violence, either with regularity or as a one off, but it will also include less obvious cases.
For example, cases where individuals are cut off from sources of support, perhaps their families or friends or where they are prevented from acting independently. This could see a number of cases that previously would have been treated as civil problems criminalised.
Though this might appear like legal semantics, the changes will have a real impact upon the practice of family law solicitors and they will change the way in which domestic violence is perceived and treated when they are brought in March 2013. Hopefully, the new definition will mean more cases where aggressors are justly punished for their actions and victims will be allowed access to the support they need.
Overall, though, these changes should in general raise awareness to the trauma that is caused by domestic violence and, above all else, we will hopefully see a decline in the number of cases that are seen in the courts.
Here at Clough and Willis we have a dedicated team of domestic violence law solicitors who are headed by a Resolution accredited specialist. We advise and represent male and female partners as well as other family relations subject to verbal and physical assaults or harassment .