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Happy 3rd Anniversary - Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

View profile for Rhian Williams
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Four years after the domestic abuse bill was first promised in the late Queen’s speech in 2017, it finally became law on the 30th April 2021.

The act further improves the effectiveness of the Justice system, providing protection for victims of domestic abuse and bringing perpetrators to Justice, whilst raising awareness and understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families and, strengthening support for victims of abuse by statutory agencies.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 provides the first statutory definition of domestic abuse which is defined as:

  • Where the perpetrator and victim are both aged 16 or older,
  • The behaviour is abusive; and,
  • The victim and perpetrator have a relationship that’s makes them personally connected.

Abusive behaviour is described as:

  • Physical or sexual abuse,
  • Violent or threatening,
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour,
  • Economic Abuse,
  • Physiological, emotional or other abuse.

The meaning of ‘personally connected’ was extended to include people who:

  • Are or have been married to each other,
  • Are or have been civil partners of each other,
  • Are or have been engaged to marry one another,
  • Are of have been in an intimate relationship with one another,
  • Have each had a parental relationship in relation to the same child.

The Act also allows for children to be seen as the victims of domestic abuse, rather than just a witness, if they see, hear or experience the effects of the abuse.

The Act secured many vital changes, going beyond criminal justice reforms, to cover Family Courts, housing, and health. The key changes established in 2021 delivered:

  • A legal definition of domestic abuse as described above,
  • A Domestic Abuse Commissioner to stand up for survivors and life-saving domestic abuse services;
  • A legal duty on local councils to fund support for survivors in ‘safe accommodation;’
  • Protection in the family and civil Court’s for survivors, including a ban on abusers from cross-examining their victims, and, a guarantee that survivors can access special measures, including separate waiting rooms, entrances, exits and screens.
  • Criminal offences, including post-separation coercive control, non-fatal strangulation, threats to disclose private sexual images.
  • A ban on abusers using a defence of ‘rough sex’.
  • Guarantee that all survivors will be in priority need for housing, and will keep a secure tenancy on social housing if they need to escape an abuser,
  • A ban on GP’s charging for medical evidence of domestic abuse, including for legal aid.
  • A duty on the government to issues a code of practice on how date is shared between the public services that survivors report to, such as the police, immigration enforcement and others.

It can be difficult to identify these behaviours within a relationship, but If you or anyone you know is being subjected to any form of domestic abuse, please contact the Domestic Violence and Abuse Department (DVAD) for expert advice as to what protective measures are available, either by clicking on the links, or by telephoning Johnson Astills on 0116 255 4855.