New domestic abuse guidelines

Victims of domestic violence and abuse aged 16 and 17 will be recognised as victims under Government plans. The Home Office is widening the definition of domestic abuse to include a wider range of coercive or threatening behaviour.

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Clegg: Domestic violence more complex and widespread than people realise

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg talks to teenagers at the St Andrew's Youth club
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg talks to teenagers at the St Andrew's Youth club Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The Deputy Prime Minister paid a visit to a youth club today as he announced that teenage victims of domestic violence and abuse will be officially recognised as victims under new Government plans.

Clegg arrived at St Andrew's Club in Westminster, with newly appointed Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne as details were unveiled on widening the definition of domestic abuse to include those aged 16 and 17 as well as a wider range of coercive or threatening behaviour.

Mr Clegg said the changes, which will be in place by March next year, 'will help expose the true face of domestic violence, which is much more complex and much more widespread than people often realise.'

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How the Government is tackling domestic abuse

Since coming to power the Government has taken active steps to protect and support women, girls and men facing domestic violence. These include:

  • £40million of funding up to 2015 for specialist local domestic and sexual violence support services.
  • £225,000 of funding will be shared among 12 organisations tackling and developing domestic violence services for men.
  • Forcing someone to marry will become a criminal offence in England and Wales.
  • A pilot scheme allowing police in some parts of the country to disclose to the public information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner.
  • The creation, under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, of two new stalking offences and additional police powers to investigate these offences.
  • Work to prevent girls becoming victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Controlling and Coercive habits 'can lead to abuse'

Controlling and coercive behavior in relationships might be part of a broader pattern that could lead to other forms of abuse and violence, the Government have warned.

  • Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence and escape and regulating their behaviour.
  • Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

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NSPCC highlights abuse in teenage relationships

Teenage years are difficult at the best of times but a lack of experience in relationships and issues with self-confidence can mean young people feel they have nowhere to turn.

Many victims, as well as perpetrators, come from abusive homes themselves and therefore don't realise how wrong these kind of relationships are.

– NSPCC chief executive Andrew Flanagan

Young women are 'at high risk of serious harm'

The Association of Chief Police Officers warned that, on average, two women a week and one man every 17 days are murdered by their current or former partner.

The young women in our research were at high risk of serious harm or murder. Over a quarter had self-harmed and one in five were pregnant.

There is a clear need for support in this area and it is essential that independent domestic violence advisors are funded to work with victims of all ages.

– Diana Barran, Caada's chief executive

What is domestic violence?

The Government defines domestic violence as:

Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

The Home Office will be widening the definition of domestic abuse in March 2013 to include those aged 16 and 17 as well as a wider range of coercive or threatening behaviour.

The new definition will not be written into law, but it will be broadened to include:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

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