Domestic Abuse Bill: Post-Separation Abuse
The detailed examination of the draft Bill took place during the final day of committee stage on 10 February. The next and important stage for this legislation is the report stage where there is a further chance for Parliament to closely consider and scrutinise elements of the Bill and suggest any changes. This stage of the Bill’s journey is scheduled for the 8 March.
Victims Commissioner Baroness Newlove who has focused her work on supporting victims of crime and addressing domestic abuse within the community commented that the Bill needs to include post separation abuse. She stated “we can’t say it’s an all-singing, dancing domestic abuse legislation if we are still fighting at the highest level”.
Post separation abuse is equally as important to consider as abuse that occurs within a relationship as often victims of abuse can feel the effects of abuse even after the end of their relationship, particularly those escaping coercive control and financial control, also referred to as economic abuse. A quarter of women reported their partner continued to financially control after they separated.
The impact of this behaviour can continue and Baroness Newlove’s point is an important one if the Government are to ensure this Bill does what it wants and needs it to do – protect victims of domestic abuse at the highest level and to deal with this on a national and multi-agency level to ensure victims are supported both within the Criminal Justice System and far beyond this in recovering and moving on with their life. The charity Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) is also battling for an amendment in the Bill to extend the existing legislation on coercive control to post-separation abuse. Baroness Newlove said it was vital community services were at the heart of the Bill as it would protect lives. This includes phone hotlines, temporary shelters and help finding housing.
I will certainly be waiting for news on where the Bill goes following the 8 March and what amendments have been raised and how this impacts the legislation. The Bill is certainly travelling in the right direction, which for me, and I am sure for those who have experienced domestic abuse and for those still trapped in their abusive and coercive relationships is very welcome news and hope that will support reform in this area and ultimately save lives.
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