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24 January 2019

Government publishes Domestic Abuse Bill

Earlier this week the government published the Domestic Abuse Bill, a comprehensive draft bill which is aimed at supporting victims and their families and pursuing offenders.  Domestic abuse is a serious and complex crime that can affect anyone and has a lasting impact upon a victim’s life. 

Figures have revealed that around 2 million people in the UK were victims of domestic abuse last year alone, whilst the Home Office recently published a report announcing that the economic and social costs of the crime amounted to almost £66 billion between 2016 and 2017. The draft bill therefore comes at a much-needed time for an overhaul of legislation in this area.

The bill proposes a number of new measures, most notably the creation of the first statutory definition of domestic abuse to include ‘economic abuse’ and ‘controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse’.  Examples of this can include restricting a partner’s access to the family finances, preventing them from gaining employment or preventing them from having friendships outside of the home.  Such controlling and coercive behaviour will be formally recognised as a form of domestic abuse which is a significant step forward for victims. 

Previously, the absence of a statutory definition of domestic abuse has created a sense of uncertainty which is likely to have deterred many victims from taking steps against their abuser.  It is the government’s hope that the introduction of this new statutory definition will aid a greater understanding of what constitutes abuse and therefore encourage those affected to come forward.

In a bid to reduce the distress caused to victims of domestic abuse, the draft bill will also prohibit perpetrators from cross-examining their victims and the victim having to cross–examine their abusers in the family courts within any court proceedings.  This change is accompanied by a string of other proposals aimed at transforming the way in which victims of domestic abuse are protected.

In the event that a person is the victim of domestic abuse, whether it be physical or non-physical abuse, there are many ways in which to person can be protected.  All lawyers in our family law team have experience in this area and in the event that you would like a confidential conversation with a lawyer, please contact us on 01753 279067 or email

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