Ministers plan domestic violence laws rethink


"Controlling" partners could face criminal charges under government plans in the new year to redraft domestic violence laws.

A new consultation is to be launched by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, aimed at framing a legal definition of what constitutes abuse against a spouse or partner.

domestic abuse laws to be redrafted

According to the Home Office, more than 1 million people were victims of domestic violence in England and Wales last year. Across the UK, some level of domestic abuse is likely to afflict 1 in 4 women.

Domestic abuse survivors have welcomed the news. Broadcaster Sonia Poulton, who was in an abusive relationship for 3 years, said: "When it starts off they are very careful and you don't even realise it's occurring."

"The important thing people need to realise is that it isn't just physical. He never laid a finger on me. I went to bed every night and cried myself asleep because I was in love with him."

"He would criticise my clothes, my hair, even my friends. When anyone called on the phone he would just stand there in the background, a seething, silent presence."

Amid mounting concern that teenage girls in particular are suffering at the hands of abusive boyfriends, the consultation could be extended to take in for the first time those under 18.

The new definition would also cover women who bully their partners.

In 2009, actress Keira Knightley appeared in a TV and cinema advertisement to promote a Women's Aid campaign against domestic violence.

Simpson Millar LLP's Emma Pearmaine said the current domestic violence laws do not add up. "At present, domestic violence is not a specific criminal offence in Britain. Hopefully the impending government rethink will overturn that."

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