Sadly, it is not uncommon for incidents of domestic abuse to occur both within relationships and between family members. The Office for National Statistics estimates that two million adults in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse between March 2017-2018 alone. In response, last month the Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced to Parliament for the first time in what is hoped will be a significant step in tackling domestic abuse and increasing the support available for victims.
Abuse can take a number of forms, and the Bill seeks to set out a statutory definition of domestic abuse to include financial abuse as well as controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse. For those affected by domestic abuse, options at present include applying through the family courts for injunctions such as a non-molestation or occupation orders. Such orders can be effective in prohibiting abuse, and the Domestic Bill will look to introduce even more robust powers so that the police and court can both better protect victims and further restrict the actions of offenders.
Whilst the Bill makes its way through parliament, at a time when the government’s focus is elsewhere, there remains a question mark as to when this legislation will come into force. Nonetheless, Parliament’s changing approach to domestic abuse is a positive step in combatting this difficult issue.