Domestic violence: new coercive and controlling behaviour

Jeanette Ashton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On 18 December 2014 the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced that there will be a new domestic abuse offence of coercive and controlling behaviour with the maximum penalty for the new offence being five years imprisonment and a fine1. The Home Office says that the new law will help protect victims by outlawing sustained patterns of behaviour that stop short of serious physical violence, but amount to extreme psychological and emotional abuse and states that victims of coercive control can have every aspect of life controlled by their partner, often being subjected to daily intimidation and humiliation. The announcement came following a government consultation in the summer seeking views on whether the law on domestic abuse needs to be strengthened. Eighty-five per cent of respondents agreed that the law does not currently provide sufficient protection for victims. Fifty-five per cent said that a new offence was needed to strengthen and clarify the law on coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships. Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘Coercive control can be tantamount to torture. In many cases, dominance over the victim develops and escalates over the years until the perpetrator has complete control. Putting a foot wrong can result in violent outbursts, with victims living in fear for their lives.’2 This article briefly reflects on the historical background to the introduction of legal protection for domestic violence victims, considers the key measures currently available and makes suggestions as to the possible benefit of the introduction of the new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-30
Number of pages2
JournalStudent Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2015


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