New law for domestic abusers

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Ruling covers emotional and psychological torment

According to Avon and Women’s Aid survey of 2,000 people, almost a third of women aged between 16 and 24 say they've been in a controlling relationship.

The study also suggests that many women don't realise they're in a coercive relationship until after they’ve broken up with their partner.

In December, a new law was introduced which means domestic abusers who control victims via social media or spy on them online could face up to five years in prison.

The legislation, brought into force in England and Wales, targets people who put their partners or family members through psychological and emotional torment but stop short of violence.

The law will cover any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Statistics from the study suggest 21 per cent of women only knew they'd been in a controlling relationship after it had ended and nine per cent when friends and family pointed it out.

The survey also revealed that one in 20 women say being scared of their partner is normal and acceptable. 10 per cent of women regard their partner repeatedly checking their phone as a normal and acceptable part of a relationship and five per cent of women regard being told what they can and cannot wear as normal and acceptable.

Women's Aid has launched a new campaign, 'Love Don't Feel Bad', supported by Avon this week.

The aim of the campaign is to educate young people about domestic abuse - specifically, about coercive control.

Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse, which some people still view as only physical attacks rather than considering that it can be mental abuse too.

Partners can use fear as a weapon through coercive control and through spying and emotional abuse, strip away their victim’s personal freedom.

Women’s aid describes coercive control: “[When] a person has to change what they would normally do, or say, or wear etc. and is fearful or scared about what will happen if they do not comply.”

If this article resonates with you, the freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline is 0808 2000 247

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