It may have gone unnoticed due to the holiday period but between Christmas and New Year (29th December 2015 to be precise) section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 came into force. This introduces a new offence of coercive or controlling behaviour.
When domestic violence is mentioned most people think of physical violence. Violence and abuse however can take many guises.
The new offence looks to protect people (who have an intimate or family relationship with the controller) experiencing behaviour short of physical violence but which is extreme psychological and emotional abuse. This may include such things as stopping a partner socialising, controlling their social media accounts, dictating what they wear and isolating them from family. Controlling or coercive behaviour causes someone to either fear that violence will be used against them on at least two occasions or serious alarm or distress which has a substantial affect on their usual day to day activities. The offence carries a maximum of 5 years imprisonment, a fine or both.
If you are experiencing coercive or controlling behaviour you may also be able to apply for a non-molestation order through the family court. For more information and to see if you would be eligible for legal aid funding please contact Franca Webb on 02392 251257.