Domestic abuse and the law


Domestic violence and abuse is defined as:

‘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. This can encompass but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.’

Controlling behaviour is defined as:

‘a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.’

Coercive behaviour is defined as:

‘an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.’

Family members are defined as: mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister and grandparents, whether directly related, in-laws, common-law or step-family.

The definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and force marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

"The new definition for domestic abuse will assist police in identifying those most vulnerable to violence in domestic situations, particularly young victims"

Chief Constable Carmel Napier


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