Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stamping out Abusive Coercive Behaviour Will Not Be an Easy Task

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Stamping out Abusive Coercive Behaviour Will Not Be an Easy Task

Article excerpt


THE figures on domestic violence are depressing. Two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. An incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. More than 1.1 million women and 720,000 men have been victims of some sort of domestic abuse in the past year and young people and the elderly are not immune.

Domestic violence conviction rates in the five years to 2011 stood at just 6.5% of incidents reported to police so, in most cases, there is no satisfactory outcome.

In the almost forty years I have been hearing from victims, sources of help and the attitude of the police have improved. There are helplines, refuges and domestic violence units in most areas. But the most insidious form of domestic abuse is that slow eating away of a victim's sense of self worth until, in the end, they come to believe they deserve the treatment meted out to them.

Home Secretary Theresa May has launched a consultation to look at making coercive and controlling behaviour criminal, particularly where it gradually cuts someone off from friends and family or refuses them access to money in order to limit their freedom. Last week I talked with a typical victim.

When she first met her husband 'He was romantic, caring, thoughtful and considerate. He would never get angry. It wasn't until we got married that he became incredibly controlling. He used to phone me all the time, checking where I was. I wasn't allowed to have an opinion on anything. He would order me around. I wasn't allowed to leave the house unless he told me to. I was criticised all the time.' Not financially stable enough to escape, she felt trapped in her own home.

Eventually, and largely to benefit her children, she found the courage to leave but it took her 14 years. I welcome the consultation as a step in the right direction but I don't think stamping out coercive behaviour will be easy. By its very nature, it renders its victims almost incapable of reaching out for help, although help is only a phone call away.

IF you're a dog owner... I have four ... you'll know all about dog hairs. They get everywhere and, once they have attached themselves to a carpet, it takes maximum force to shift them. I paid a fortune for an extra-special vacuum. Presumably it's one of the more powerful models which will disappear when a new EU rule comes into force. From September 1, manufacturers will not be able to make or import vacuum cleaners with a motor which exceeds 1,600 watts. The wattage will be cut to only 900 watts by 2017. Current cleaners typically boast an average of 1,800 watts so in effect they're halving their power. The consumer group Which argues that the move is self-defeating - claiming that householders would simply use the less powerful models for longer to achieve the same degree of cleaning. …

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