The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has introduced several significant changes which are designed to provide greater protection to those who experience domestic abuse and set to change the response to domestic abuse by helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure that they have the support they need.
What does the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 now consist of?
The act now provides a broad legal definition of what the term domestic abuse consists of, which incorporates abuse beyond physical violence. Abuse comes in many forms, from physical harm to controlling or coercive behaviour. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent on the abuser by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. The law has now been extended to partners who do not live together and ex-partners whose behaviour may continue post-separation.
Other significant changes which have been introduced are providing the police with new powers to provide victims with immediate protection from their abusers.
New offences have been introduced such as non-fatal strangulation now becoming a specific criminal offence. Revenge porn laws have also been expanded to include disclosure of intimate images and videos with the intention to cause distress.
Furthermore, local authorities will have a legal duty placed upon them to provide support to victims and their children. Victims will now be made a priority for homelessness assistance as well.
If you or someone you know are a victim of domestic abuse, you can find a list of helpline numbers HERE.
But where does the new Bill fall short?
There has been great progress made with this Bill but the act doesn’t protect all women, especially immigrant women. Women who are immigrants would not receive the same protection solely because of their immigration status or their background.
Migrant women are the most vulnerable domestic abuse victims in our society, due to varying factors such as language barriers, confidence to speak up against their family and community but also not having knowledge of who to seek help from. This is a clear bias not to provide the same level of support to women who may not be settled in the UK or British citizens.
Immigrant women are therefore more likely to stay in an unhealthy relationship and continue to be abused because of the lack of knowledge and support available to them.
The intention of the new bill is to protect and prevent abuse. The test of time would be the only way to see how the new amendments will impact wider society.
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