Emotional, financial and psychological abuse is now to be officially recognised by police as domestic violence.

(116 Posts)
MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 11:34:39

Just heard this on 6 music news. About time too.

OhDearNigel Wed 19-Sep-12 19:58:12

Hmm, I am rather hmm about this. ACPO/NPIA & CPS have recognised 5 forms of domestic abuse for at least 8 years, being
1) Physical
2) Emotional
3) Sexual
4) Financial
5) Psychological

This is laid out in a CPS policy document from May 2009 (just checked it !) and an ACPO guide from 2008.

Most of my caseload involves domestic violence (work in a trial victim/witness support unit in the police).

Unless there is legislation to make a whole new offence of domestic abuse, these new guidelines are meaningless and will make absolutely no difference at all. Until the abuser commits physical acts of violence the police will be unable to act. There is no offence of domestic abuse and the government are paying lip service to improving the prosecutions for DV. It makes me laugh. CPS have so few lawyers due to government cuts that we can't even get simple assaults to court, let alone a complex web of emotional abuse. Agencies supporting victims through court are having their funding slashed, ancilliary support services are being closed, emergency housing for women fleeing DV is non existent. Courts are closed, the ones that remain are battling with so many cases that it is taking months and months for cases to come to trial. Prisons are closed, offender programmes are cut. I welcome the drop in age but frankly I cannot see this making any difference other than making the cocks that are in charge of our ever-more failing justice system look less like the utter, hollow wankers that they are.

olgaga Wed 19-Sep-12 20:12:48

There is no offence of domestic abuse

But that's the point, OhDearNigel. The definition will not be written into law, but the law on harassment will be broadened to include "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 sexuality".

Yes it isn't perfect but part of the reason for this change was ACPO's submission to the consultation that the police needed clearer powers to intervene in domestic abuse situations before they resulted in violence and homicide.

I certainly agree with what you say about lack of resources though. However, at least the police and other agencies won't be able to throw their hands up and say "Yeah but you haven't actually been beaten up or killed yet, keep us posted".

Plus family courts will not be able to dismiss such conduct as being unimportant if there is a criminal conviction resulting from it.

VintageEbonyGold Wed 19-Sep-12 20:18:10

Thats a great move, maybe my ex and his family would have been charged and I wouldn't have spent several years in and out of a refuge because I thought it wasn't dv. Refuge did, social services did but the police didn't, even with evidence of financial fraud.

OhDearNigel Wed 19-Sep-12 20:51:57

olgaga, I really hope you're right. But I'm sure, like me, you've seen hundreds of initiatives, policies and guidelines which make not a jot of difference to anything. I'm afraid that 4 years of dealing directly with DV cases that go into the justice system has made me extremely cynical.

Lisatheonewhoeatsdrytoast Wed 19-Sep-12 20:57:12

Great news, i was in a controlling relationship from my early teens until i was 18, even then he tried to have a hold over me and control me and occasionally he was physical, i had to show him my mobile phone, he followed me, made me call him to meet me off the bus, as he didn't trust me to walk home. It was a nightmare sad

Smellslikecatspee Wed 19-Sep-12 21:22:52

Sorry onemorechap, sound from what you've said that yes you did experience DV

BertieBotts Germany Wed 19-Sep-12 21:27:49

If nothing else the publicity surrounding the change might raise awareness which would be a massive thing.

IIRC ALL relationships which are physically abusive are also emotionally abusive. I think it's been a mistake to separate the two out because they're reliant on each other. Violence generally doesn't happen unless one partner has controlling tendencies because in order to hurt someone else there needs to be some kind of internal justification or feeling of entitlement. And likewise the violence is a tool in the overall coercion and control, because there has to be an ultimate threat for the abuser to remain on top. Some abusers use other methods of control and others never get to the violent stage because their victims are afraid without violence, or leave before it reaches that point.

Of course, physical violence has historically been the priority because it carries the most obvious signs and the highest risk; death, but if a victim does survive (and the great majority do, thankfully) then the long lasting damage tends to be psychological and this occurs whether someone has faced daily beatings, the odd slap/shove or their partner has never lain a finger on them but instead beaten them down metaphorically, with control and emotional abuse.

Even if it makes no difference now in real terms it's a step in the right direction, I hope that it does make a difference and an impact and if it doesn't change anything, then I hope things are changed in the future and this legislation provides a gateway for that to happen.

Treats Wed 19-Sep-12 21:55:36

OneMoreChap - I looked up the factbox on the BBC site as a result of your post. I'd never heard that "two in five of all domestic violence victims are men" before. I thought the proportion was much, much lower than that.

The source of the fact seems to be this organisation - of which I have also never heard before - www.parity-uk.org/index.php . Their stated aim is to fight for equal rights for men and women, although it's fairly clear that they think that it's MEN who are unfairly discriminated against and want to redress the balance.

To that end, they've got a whole piece on domestic violence against men on their site and quote extensively from the British Crime Survey 2005/06. This bit caught my eye:

"In the longer term, since the age of 16, and again excluding stalking, the survey found that 28.1% of women and 17.5% of men reported having suffered non-sexual partner abuse, a proportion of male victims of about 38%. Of these, 19.1% of women and 10.4% of men reported having suffered actual force, a proportion of male victims of about 35%, which was designated ‘severe’ in the case of 13.7% of women and 8.7% of men, a proportion of male victims of about 39% - the same as in 2004/05."

This is presumably the source of the 'two in five' stat (39% roughly equals two in five)

But I did a bit more digging, and found this interesting Home Office analysis of the BCS, which included a bit more detail on severity and number of incidents of domestic abuse:

"There were an estimated 12.9 million incidents of domestic violence acts (nonsexual threats or force) against women and 2.5 million against men in England and Wales in the year prior to interview."

So if you go on incidents of abuse, men are victims in 16% of cases. Which is a bit more in line with what I had always thought.

OneMoreChap - I don't want to diminish your own experience with your exw - statistics are no use to anyone actually living through these things.

I was just curious about the quoted stat and wanted to know a bit more about it.

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 21:55:57

I agree BertieBotts. My exp would threaten me with violence all the time, but by never quite following through he could keep me as scared as hell but at the same time grateful and he could still maintain that he was doing nothing wrong as he never actually hit me, and almost deserved a medal for refraining. In fact I slapped him once as he had my pinned down and had his face right in mine screaming at me and I was scared. And after that he kept going on about how I was the violent one as I had hit him!

I also agree that this will raise awareness of the red flags of domestic abuse. All of us who have escaped from domestic abuse can spot the signs a mile off. But a young woman who is in her first relationship doesn't know any different, unless it is talked about. And men in denial that their behaviour is unacceptable may also get a reality check.

It is a chilling statistic that 75% of girls under 18 who are in a relationship with someone at least 2 years older have been victims or abuse. I was 18/19 and my abuser was 26. Of course he went for me because a woman his own age would not have taken that kind of shit. sad

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 21:57:17

I got those stats from bbc article linked earlier btw, sure that's what it said but haven't checked back.

BertieBotts Germany Wed 19-Sep-12 22:06:20

It's awful isn't it? My ex was five years older than me. After I left he went after even younger girls sad

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 22:24:32

A thought has just crossed my mind. I know that at present in cases of dv if police are reasonably convinced an assault has taken place, they can still arrest and press charges against the perpetrator even if the woman doesn't want to press charges. That's right isn't it? So presumably under these new laws if family friends have concerns about abusive behaviour will the police have more power to intervene as long as they are reasonably confident the allegations are true, regardless of what the woman says? I hoep so. I think this will help women escape.

I remember my mum telling me how helpless she felt, she says she felt she was just waiting for the day he would "knock me out or knock me up" (used to force me to have sex with no contraception, if I refused he said it meant I didn't love him, which in turn proved I must be having sex with someone else/planning to leave/had and STI/thought he had an STI etc - in the end I went on the pill in secret as deep down I knew having a child with him would ruin my life)

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 22:25:53

Sorry I just realised I made an assumption the victim would be female in my last post which is of course not always true.

olgaga Wed 19-Sep-12 22:27:09

Treats You are right. Another thing to consider is whether the statistics quoted only refer to heterosexual relationships, or whether it includes men who are victims of their male partners. There seems to be a bit of a silence on the matter.

I read somewhere else that the incidence of DV in gay and lesbian relationships was similar to that in heterosexual relationships. Which made me question whether the men who reportedly suffer domestic violence are always the victims of female violence? I certainly couldn't find anything to confirm that.

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 22:34:13

olgaga I knew a gay couple who literally used to beat the shit out of each other. It was awful. Know lots of other gay couples that don't, but just wanted to raise the point that DV can happen in gay relationships too. However I have also known personally a relationship where a guy was physically abused by a woman. Don't know what happened behind closed doors of course, but from what I could see it wasn't just her lashing out physically now and then. She also ground down his self esteem and had him thinking it was his fault, was very controlling, made him lose touch with friends/family all the classic signs of abuse. so whilst it is rare it does happen.

Treats Wed 19-Sep-12 22:34:47

Apparently, the incidences of dv in same sex relationships is about the same as hetero relationships - 1 in 4. But I don't know whether it's more common in male or female relationships. Or whether gay men make up a greater proportion of all male victims than lesbians do of all female victims.

One of the difficulties is that so much DV info out there on the web is published by campaigning groups - and usually those groups are trying to highlight the cause of one gender or another. Which makes it quite hard to get a balanced view. Although the BCS is about as independent as it gets.

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 22:39:35

Oh and just remembered my cousin was assaulted by his male partner too. sad That was when he was young, had just come out and was quite vulnerable. His partner was a lot older. sad

olgaga Wed 19-Sep-12 22:47:31

I also know of a case where a male work colleague of a friend was regularly assaulted - physically - by his wife. I would never say that doesn't happen!

I have been careful in my posts to refer to "people" rather than "women" as I'm aware both sexes can be victims. It's just pretty obvious - whatever statistics you look at - that female victims outnumber males by some distance.

BertieBotts Germany Wed 19-Sep-12 22:48:22

I read some stats once which were basically that relationship/domestic violence is most likely in this order:

Male to female
Male to male
Female to female
Female to male

Unfortunately I can't find the book it was in so I can't back them up with a source, take with a pinch of salt. Certainly DV happens in all kinds of relationships. I have a gay friend who was emotionally abused and controlled by her now ex girlfriend, and another gay friend who dated a young man who was fleeing a violent ex. He sought help from the police and they were less than helpful and outright homophobic towards him sad I'm sure they must be a minority but that was a horrible thought that even the people who were supposed to help weren't supportive to him.

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 22:56:42

Yes you are probably right.

It's amazing actually when I come to think of it that even in my small circle of family and friends I know a good number of people that has been domestically abused. And these are "normal" people, some of them quite headstrong and successful, not your classic "victim" at all. I confided to my dp what had happened to me and he was astounded, I don't think he could imagine me ever taking any crap like I did! But these abusers get under your skin and make you doubt yourself. I try not to let it influence the way I am now, but inwardly I am still quite insecure and have suffered with depression on and off since, despite having a lovely secure childhood and not having a care in the world beforehand. I sincerely hope these changes stop more young women being so emotionally/physically battered when they should be out having fun and enjoying their youth. I can understand the cynicism that some have expressed but I hope they will be proven wrong. smile

edam Wed 19-Sep-12 23:00:50

About time the definition was updated - and the idea that you didn't qualify as a victim if you were under 18 was bizarre.

Do you think there's any chance of getting the family courts to recognise DV exists and is kind of important and is a risk to children? Two people I've talked to have been told by their solicitors not even to mention DV in the family court, even though the DV has been recognised in other court proceedings, because it will just prejudice the family court against them - the victims. Kafa-esque.

edam Wed 19-Sep-12 23:01:03

Or Kafka, even...

VintageEbonyGold Wed 19-Sep-12 23:44:35

I met my 21yo ex when I was 15, he waited to have a relationship until I was legal. It was abusive and violent and he knew exactly how to get what he wanted. Like pp an older woman wouldn't have taken his shit and he still sticks to under 18's now. I did get knocked up and after we split up I had years of verbal/emotional and financial abuse from him and his family inregards to our child. His/his families only interest is in harassing me and sometimes I feel like I'll never escape, no matter how far I run.

MummysHappyPills Wed 19-Sep-12 23:49:07

Oh vintage that is horrible. sad

VintageEbonyGold Thu 20-Sep-12 00:32:13

Thanks Mummys thanks still hard to get my head round it but we are no contact now

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