Yesterday marked a momentous day in the country as the Domestic Abuse Bill was finally passed by both Houses of Parliament and is now law.
Around 2.4 million people experience domestic abuse every year in the UK, and most victims are women. With the pandemic, and the lockdown, cases of domestic violence have only increased in the past year, urging the government to pass this landmark bill with no further delay. Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs told Reuters:
This is a fantastic and ground-breaking day.
The new law will make a huge difference to the lives of millions of domestic abuse victims, and definitely save lives.
Under the act, the legal definition of domestic abuse has been expanded to include a range of behaviours that go beyond physical violence. It will include ‘emotional, coercive or controlling behaviour, and economic abuse.' Children will also be considered as victims if they hear, see, or experience domestic abuse.
Several acts of abuse will now be legally recognised as crimes, like threatening to share intimate photographs or ‘revenge porn—’ which can get perpetrators a two-year sentence, and non-fatal strangulation.
The act has also given more power to the police, so that victims will be able to receive immediate police protection from abusers. Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe of the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Domestic Abuse stated:
I want to reiterate our message to victims of domestic abuse. You are not alone. We will come when you ask for help and can take steps to make sure you’re safe.
Additionally, courts will have the authority to force perpetrators to get mental health support, or drug and alcohol rehabilitation in order to prevent them from reoffending.
Chief Executive of Women’s Aid Federation of England, Farah Nazeer said:
The Domestic Abuse Bill has been long-awaited, and could not be more needed, following the impact of the pandemic on survivors and our national network of domestic abuse services.