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Legislation Changes to Stop Domestic Abuse Victims Being Cross-Examined by Abusers

Legislation Changes to Stop Domestic Abuse Victims Being Cross-Examined by Abusers

Introduced by a draft Bill published in January, a new government package tackling domestic abuse will put an end to domestic abuse victims having to face their abusers cross-examining them in court. The MoJ (Ministry of Justice) said it will also support more domestic violence victims in giving evidence in criminal courts by providing automatic ‘special measures’ eligibility.

Aiming to pursue offenders and support victims of abuse and their families, this new legislation package will also introduce a statutory Government definition (the first of its kind) of domestic abuse that will specifically include economic, manipulative and controlling non-physical.

In addition, it will establish a domestic violence/abuse commissioner to effectively drive the national response to issues concerning domestic abuse, as well as new domestic violence/abuse protection notices/orders to protect victims further and place restrictions on offenders’ actions.

Domestic Abuse in the UK

A Home Office report examining the social and economic cost of domestic abuse revealed that in 2016/17, this crime cost England & Wales a staggering £66 billion. Further research showed that £47 billion of this total was required to deal with the harm – both physical and emotional – done by domestic abuse. Other major factors included were cost to:

  • Police: £1.3 billion
  • Health Services: £2.3 billion
  • Victim Services: £724 million

Responses to the Bill

Speaking to ITV News, Zoe Drunfield said that current legislation is stacked in favour of abusers, because the mere thought of having to face their abuser – who potentially could be their rapist - cross-examining them is enough to stop many women from going to court in the first place. She went on to say that *: “These women do not wish to stand in court and be subjected to this.”

Zoe Drunfield has campaigned tirelessly to make court appearances less traumatic for survivors of domestic abuse since suffering horrific injuries at the hands of her now jailed ex-partner - including having her nose broken in two places, her eye socket cracked, and her neck stabbed.

In her response to the publication of the Bill, Diane Abbott (Shadow Home Secretary) stated that on average, every week two women are killed by current or former partners and that domestic violence survivors have been kept waiting for this Bill for far too long.

She further said*: “If the Conservative party is serious about combating the crime of domestic violence, ensuring sufficient resources for abuse survivors are available through long-term funding commitments is a must.”

Women’s Aid chief executive Katie Ghose said*: “The fact that the cost of domestic abuse to society in England/Wales is £66 billion per year and an average of two women’s life per week should be a serious wake-up call for everyone. The time to bring this into the spotlight and properly address domestic abuse’s impact is now.”

Adding that Women’s Aid are looking forward to working with abuse survivors, member services and the government to:

  • Ensure survivors get the support and resources they need
  • Address domestic abuse’s root causes to enable all women and children to live free from abuse and fear,

she continued to say*: “This domestic abuse bill can potentially create a step towards chance in national response and a more effective process of tackling the crime of domestic abuse. For our life-saving specialist support services’ network to really make a difference to the lives of survivors, sustainable funding must be at the very core of this.”

Stating that she has worked on ending domestic abuse and supporting survivors making the brave decision to finally leave their abusers and rebuild their lives throughout her political career, PM Theresa May said*: “The harrowing experiences of domestic abuse victims and victim’s’ families clearly tell us that there is still much to be done to stamp this life-shattering crime out once and for all. This bill will pave the way to ushering in the necessary changes to achieve this.”

Help for Domestic Abuse Victims

Victims of domestic abuse do not have to face the process of putting an end to their ordeal alone. We here at Rose & Rose have a team of highly experienced, helpful and sensitive family lawyers dedicated to helping women and children free themselves from the pain and fear of abuse and successfully rebuild their lives.

If you have decided to take the first step towards ending your suffering, please do not hesitate to call us on 0203 733 4480 or contact us online now. Please note that we will respond to online enquiries as soon as possible and/or at your convenience and with utmost discretion and sensitivity.

*All quotes have been paraphrased to prevent copyright issues.  

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