Campaigners are urging the Government to criminalise types of psychological abuse to save more victims of domestic violence.
The groups welcomed a move by the Home Office in March 2013 to include 'coercive control' in its definition of domestic violence but say it now needs to be made an arrestable offence.
What is 'coercive control'?
The term refers to anything which may cause psychological harm, including:
- excessive jealousy;
- isolating partner from their family and friends;
- controlling what partner wears;
- deliberately depriving partner of sleep.
The campaign groups carried out an online survey of 258 victims between December 2013 and February 2014 and found:
- 88% said the criminal justice system did not take psychological harm into account
- 94% felt that mental cruelty could be worse than physical violence
- 88% had experienced domestic violence for more than a year.
Writing for ITV News Central, Catherine Saunders, project manager at Midlands Women's Aid based in Nottinghamshire, says the next step to protecting victims and preventing deaths is reform to allow the criminal justice system to take account of patterns of controlling and violent behaviour.