Domestic abuse incorporates a number of different behaviours in a variety of different contexts. It is also underpinned and fuelled by a variety of different factors.
The Domestic Abuse Act, 2021 defines domestic abuse as characterised by both the relationship between the abuser and the abused as well as what constitutes abusive behaviour. Let’s look at that and make sure we understand it fully.
Domestic Abuse is defined as abusive behaviour between two people that are ‘personally connected’ to each other in some way. Two people are personally connected if they are both over the age of 16 and any of the following apply:-
They are currently or have been previously:-
- in an intimate personal relationship with each other;
- married or civil partners to each other;
- been involved in an agreement to marry or enter into a civil partnership with one another; this incorporates forced marriage where there has been an element of control or duress to agree to that proposed marriage but also a relationship where there is a plan to marry but no intimacy has taken place.
- in a parental relationship in relation to the same child;
- relatives or family members.
Behaviour is considered ‘abusive’ if it consists of any of the following:-
(a) physical or sexual abuse
(b) violent or threatening behaviour
(c) controlling or coercive behaviour
(d) economic abuse
(e) psychological or emotional abuse
It does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.
The impact of domestic abuse and related stalking and harrassment is vast. It not only impacts the victim and their family but also their friends, neighbours and communities where they live and work.
A Home Office report released in January in 2019 estimated the social and economic cost for victims of domestic abuse in England and Wales to be approximately £66 billion per year. The figures are complex and relate to anticipated, consequential and responsive costs from protective and preventative measures to police and criminal justice system responses. As a result, the average unit cost of a domestic abuse victim is calculated at £34,015.
A recent analysis in 2018 released by Trust for London and the Henry Smith Charity, highlights the costs of domestic violence to the public purse across England – a minimum of £5 million each week in every region. Costs are split into the following areas:-
- physical and mental health cost
- criminal justice costs
- social services costs
- housing and refuge costs
- civil legal costs
- lost economic output
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