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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - Important changes from March 2013

(42 Posts)
olgaga Wed 19-Sep-12 10:02:02

I thought it was worth flagging this up here as well as in Relationships!

It will be announced today that from March next year the definition of domestic violence is 'to be widened to explicitly include "coercive control", which is defined as complex patterns of abuse by one partner using power and psychological control over another, such as financial, verbal abuse or enforced social isolation'. Teenagers aged 16-18 will also be protected for the first time.

You can read more here:

A little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for anyone who has to put up with bullying, verbal, emotional and financial abuse in the home.

What's really interesting is whether this will also have an impact in the Family Courts with regard to the consideration of the conduct of ex partners/spouses in divorce proceedings and child residence/contact Orders. At the moment the only "conduct" usually taken into account is physical violence. Anything else is more or less ignored. Surely that will also have to change.

kenitasaro Mon 11-Mar-13 16:26:27

As a male I despair that this subject tends to typecast us into sexes.'Men do this, women do that'.
Its not like that.Just because Im a man doesn't mean I am an abusive violent person.I'm not.But in my case ,my wife is.So the injustice and discrimination is that people dont see 'men' as being abused, only abusers. She only tried to hit me a couple of times.But I've had ten years of being denigrated,insulted,ridiculed,made to feel inadequate and useless.Being told I have no friends because they think I treat her badly.I am dishonest.My kids told ,'don't trust your Dad' and so on and so forth.
Finally with the help of my children I am divorcing her and they want to come too.But the law is unwilling to accept what I say."How can this be so,you are a man!" Maybe this new law of Coercive Control will help?I hope so for both men and women as in some ways it's worse than violence.
Without the support of my 14 year old daughter and 22 year old son I would still be suffering.Even my local Mens Domestic Violence Unit warned me to be prepared to be arrested by Police if I went to them about domestic abuse of the non violent type.The signed statement from my 22 year old son is ignored.So what can I do?The kids need and want me.I can't run away alone.I am trapped.I am 73,my wife is 42 and comes from abroad where her behaviour is ignored or dealt with agressively.Not for me !

3xcookedchips Thu 31-Jan-13 13:21:53

I invite all to consider

babyhammock Thu 31-Jan-13 10:28:52

Totally agree with what Olgaga is saying and no I don't agree that it is psychologists fault either. Sturge and Glaser are very clear about what constitutes the balance of harm being against contact. Basically that the abusive parent acknowledges the harm they have done, demonstrates a willingness to change and to put the child first. How many abusive parents actually do that yet, as already stated, no contact orders are very rare. This to me says that the courts are not abiding by that report at all.

Domestic abuse (in all its forms) represents a massive failure in parenting from the abusive parent.

3xcookedchips Wed 30-Jan-13 13:53:44

Hello again Olgaga - for the purposes of transparency are you able to explain how you know so much about what happens in the family courts as you seem to know so much about it - are you a solicitor, a litigant or is your knowledge purely anecdotal given the private nature of these proceedings?

Someone an alternative point of view - why not read it before disregarding it?

Otherwise you come across as an angry one-eyed(I mean figurativeley of course) person.

Back to the original post.

In those situations where women are exhibiting DA behaviour I dont believe much will change in the short term - Women will in the majority of cases be viewed as the victim and men will continue to be marginlised.

bringingupthebaby Wed 30-Jan-13 12:11:33

Apologies for the late arrival on this threat - I may not be in the right place, so if you can recommend another thread that's better please send me that way. My question is about the Marac referral threshold - I know that 14 ticks constitute an automatic referral - but has anyone heard of or would like to comment on a Marac referral that has been triggered following a single arrest for a minor incident (sorry to use the word minor - but it wasn't a punch, kick, slap, hit), resulting a caution. There have been no previous calls to the police and no children exposed to violence - yet this has triggered a Marac referral resulting in a Non-Molestation Order, an Occupation Order and restricted Contact Order.

Just to clarify I am not a man posting this - I am a friend of the accused. I feel that this outcome is extremely disproportionate to the incident and would welcome thoughts on this. How reliable is the 14-tick automatic referral if, perhaps the victim is knowledgeable about the DASH-assessment system (used to determine level of risk/need for Marac referal)?

talkintome Fri 21-Sep-12 13:37:49

With respect, I'm not a 'troll'.

I thought you may have found Karen's latest article on domestic violence interesting.

Nice side stepping by the way.

MOSagain Fri 21-Sep-12 13:36:55

no olgaga you come on here to argue with the lawyers most of the time!

olgaga Fri 21-Sep-12 13:30:43


Yes I could, but I don't come here to waste time talking to trolls. Bye!

talkintome Fri 21-Sep-12 12:24:30


Narrow, one-sided propoganda?

Can you explain how this is so?

Not that I would want to get in the way of your obvious excitement at these proposals but you seem to have a rather blinkered view.

babyhammock Fri 21-Sep-12 10:44:17

STIDW, I take your point, however I know it happened in my case (and yes i did take it to the high court so I know how they dealt with that too) and I don't believe I'm the only one sad.

Olgaga... hopefully smile

STIDW Fri 21-Sep-12 10:37:26

babyhammock wrote;

I don't believe a lot of the lower courts do take it into account especially the perpetrators willingness to recognise and change their behaviour.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that the family courts get it right all the time or that there is no room for improvement but there is a big difference between believing something and knowing it. What is needed is reliable statistics/research rather than anecdotes and better funded court services. Instead the Government is committed to reducing court's funding and legal aid. sad

olgaga Fri 21-Sep-12 07:36:02

babyhammock agree with all you say - maybe I am foolishly optimistic...

STIDW you are conflating "low level abuse" and "low to moderate risk".

talkintome I am aware of the narrow, one-sided propoganda which is Karen Woodall's blog. The recent announcement makes no specific reference to gender.

babyhammock Fri 21-Sep-12 06:52:24

But the Sturge and Glaser report is excellent I think, just brilliant, but I don't believe a lot of the lower courts do take it into account especially the perpetrators willingness to recognise and change their behaviour. They simply make excuses for them and then the higher courts seem to be of the opinion that they need to rely on the lower courts to use their 'reasonable discretion'.

No contact orders are extremely few and far between yet how many abusive men actually recognise that their behaviour is wrong and change it... very few! Go figure sad

So no I don't believe it is psychiatrists that perpetuate this problem at all as it is widely recognised the harm that emotional abuse causes, it's the family courts and the way these cases are dealt with that needs to change.

STIDW Fri 21-Sep-12 02:10:55

I'm not actually expressing a view. The DASH risk assessment was developed nationally in partnership with Women's Aid and whether we like it or not it is a matter of fact when there isn't a serious risk of injury DV is assessed as low to moderate risk.

Courts make decisions based on evidence. Judges aren't experts and in the higher courts they often rely on expert evidence provided by psychiatrists or psychologists. The lower courts are then bound by the decisions made in the higher courts.

For example, the UK’s Official Solicitor commissioned Drs. Sturge and Glaser to prepare a report for the court giving a child and adolescent psychiatric opinion on, amongst other matters, the implications of domestic violence for contact. Their report was accepted in its entirety by the Court of Appeal and lower courts are bound by the decision. The court reached its judgment informed by their report and decided that a) proved domestic violence is not a bar to contact but an important factor in the exercise of discretion and b) where violence is proved the court will look to the ability and willingness of the perpetrator to recognise and change their behaviour as an important factor.

talkintome Thu 20-Sep-12 23:21:53

So, now it will be clearly defined that my ex wife's behaviour in attempting to destroy the relationship between my daughter and I over a period of 4 years through proved false allegations is a criminal offence, she will be comitted to possibly a custodial sentence?

I'd hope not.

Maybe Olgaga could take a look at Karen Woodall's latest blog.

I'm not fathers 4 justice or the like.

babyhammock Thu 20-Sep-12 23:16:35

The report also states that children who witness abuse show the same or worse response as though they were abused directly sad

babyhammock Thu 20-Sep-12 23:11:59

Sturge and Glaser who wrote the 'experts' court report on domestic violence that the courts are supposed to abide by is really excellent reading. It puts so eloquently the concerns of parents that have been abused.

It acknowledges that DV isn't a bar to contact for the reasons outlined above but it also gives a list of criterior without which the 'balance of harm' tips against contact. Basically the perpetrator acknowledging the abuse is wrong etc.

The family courts seem to completely ignore the absence of these criterior as even being relevant, which for anyone who has been through it, is heartbreaking.

I have to say that sadly I'm sceptical about these recent changes making much difference really especially when the victims primary concern isn't protecting themselves, its protecting their children.

olgaga Thu 20-Sep-12 22:40:53

avenueone yes - thankfully they are only subjected to this until they are old enough to take the difficult decision themselves to cut contact, but they are damaged nonetheless. The sad fact is they are left to make that decision themselves and feel responsible for it, only after untold damage has been done.

STIDW I am sorry to hear of your horrific personal experience. Yes generally children do love their parents which is why it is so horrendous for a child to go through the charade of contact with one parent who has abused their other parent.

I'm afraid I don't agree that this is all the fault of psychiatrists and psychologists. They do not make decisions in these cases. There is ample evidence about the confusion and damage caused to children who witness domestic abuse, even if it is (as you describe it) "low level".

Perhaps it is your own experience which informs your view that there is such a thing as "low level abuse". I have my own experience which I decline to share, but I think all abuse is corrosive and damaging to everyone in the firing line, and that includes children who suffer indirectly.

Most abusers are not suffering from mental illness, they are simply abusive.

STIDW Thu 20-Sep-12 21:48:49

Just to avoid any doubt as stated on MyMumsnet page I am not a lawyer.

Children don't always make up their minds in ways parents expect. For example, a child may resent a parent if in the eyes of the child that parent is responsible for sending the other parent to prison. Or a child sometimes aligns with an abusive parent.

Generally children love their parents and need to know them however unworthy the parents are by any objective standards. I know that because as a child I was seriously abused by a parent (my mother as it happens) who suffered from mental illness and I as a result I am in pain daily and hobble about on crutches. That pales into insignificance compared to the living death my mother suffered.

It is psychiatrists and psychologists not lawyers that clearly and for so long have told courts that no contact risks causing significant emotional damage to children and that is why it is rare for courts to order no contact. To change that there would need to be a change in the thinking of psychiatrists and psychologists. Victims of DV need to know that no contact is rare because in many cases it is in their interests and in the interests of children to focus on establishing boundaries and measures to ensure contact is safe rather than no contact.

Some voluntary organisations do sterling work but are under resourced and in my experience it is the mental health services who sometimes are left to pick up the pieces.

avenueone Thu 20-Sep-12 19:57:40

Yes of course it's always in the child's interests to have contact with someone who indulges in "low level abuse" towards their other parent. Thankfully these children make their own minds up when they are old enough, but not before the damage is done. sorry olgaga I should have added, I agree with this totally - the evidence will sadly only become evident in years to come and we don't want to be proved right but we will.

avenueone Thu 20-Sep-12 19:53:54

Low level abusers are allowed to see their children in recognition of the clear principles of both domestic and international law of the child’s right to have a relationship with both parents and that's not changing. this statement always makes me...well not agree with it.. there is a word or two missing....what kind of `relationship'?

DV on any level is not usually personal which would suggest is likely to not be isolated to the partner.

If a parent allowed a child to have a `relationship' with any other `low level abuser' (than their biological parent) - they would hear about it from society.

Buy hey... whilst it is still allowed - lawyers still get paid, so they are never going to disagree - while the client has a chance they will keep repeating the `point of law' they can use for their paid for job representing their clients. (ducks under table)

Luckily voluntary organisations who end up picking up the pieces see it differently.

Men should be pleased with this change as `coercive control' IMO is used more by women that violence so they will have more of their abuse recognised.

olgaga Thu 20-Sep-12 18:49:31

Yes of course it's always in the child's interests to have contact with someone who indulges in "low level abuse" towards their other parent. Thankfully these children make their own minds up when they are old enough, but not before the damage is done.

Great to hear about all your good work on the non-molestation orders but a criminal conviction might carry a little more weight. I'm delighted that there may be more of them in future. Maybe then we'll stop hearing about "low level abuse".

STIDW Thu 20-Sep-12 18:47:09

olgaga @ Wed 19-Sep-12 22:19:25 wrote:

The impression you give is that you're sitting there sighing, rolling your eyes, thinking it's all just too much trouble, all this fuss about nothing, it's just "low level abuse".

No one's rolling their eyes. DV ranges from in seriousness from minor assaults with little lasting impact to murder. The DASH risk checklist is used to identify and assess risk of serious violence and to save lives. Controlling behaviour can be just as devastating to a victim as physical violence and that is already reflected in the DASH checklist. When a high risk is identified a MARAC (multi agency risk assessment) hearing is held in order to create a safety plan for the victim.

It's highly unlikely that someone subjected to a DASH assessment and found to be a high risk or a MARAC hearing would be granted contact. These cases invariably go through the criminal courts or public law proceedings.

If violence involving drunken arguments, threats, doors kicked, police call outs which involve advice being given rather than arrests and there was not a risk of serious injury to the children and the other parent the score on the DASH assessment would be "low to moderate." In these circumstances it's likely that contact will be ordered in private family law proceedings perhaps with measures in place to ensure contact is safe. The problem is when there is no independent evidence to corroborate allegations of abuse.

No one said that witnessing DV doesn't harm children. Rather when the harm from cutting out a parent from the lives of children is deemed greater than the harm from DV contact is likley to be ordered. Low level abusers are allowed to see their children in recognition of the clear principles of both domestic and international law of the child’s right to have a relationship with both parents and that's not changing.

Collaborate Thu 20-Sep-12 16:58:53

That's because the primary concern of the court in Children Act proceedings is the child rather than the mother. I presume you wouldn't want to change that principle.

In DV cases the emphasis is changed.

olgaga Thu 20-Sep-12 16:33:46

Yes I know, and that's good! It's the fact that it then tends to be disregarded as rather unimportant "low level abuse" in consideration of contact orders which I think is wrong.

Domestic abuse is what it is. All of it is damaging to children, whether it is directed at them or or "just" at a parent.

Too many people think they can get away with all sorts of abuse towards a parent as long as they are "good parents" to their children - and far too often, in my view, the courts facilitate this.

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