Domestic abusers who use a technique called 'love bombing' to confuse and control their victims will now be considered for prosecution after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) updated its guidance.
The CPS's new guidance on coercive behaviour and harassment makes prosecutors aware of suspects who can often take steps to disrupt, mislead and minimise criminal proceedings.
The CPS also updated its list of tactics abusers use to control their victims, including love bombing, which they described as carrying "out loving acts (eg. sending flowers) between other behaviour to confuse the victim and gain more control."
Chief Crown Prosecutor Kate Brown, national lead for domestic abuse at the CPS, said: "We do not underestimate the impact of stalking or controlling or coercive behaviour on victims who can be forced to change their daily routines, left in fear of their life and totally consumed by this offending.
"Our prosecutors consider all the evidence, including how a suspect’s actions have impacted the victim, to build a picture of their manipulative behaviour and present a robust case in court."
What is love bombing?
According to the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV), love bombing is a grooming technique.
It can involve being overly affectionate and attentive towards someone early in a relationship.
The NCDV says grand gestures like expensive gifts or talking about marriage and children very early on can be alluring but it can also be risky.
Both men and women can be guilty of the behaviour, or become a victim of it.
The idea is to overwhelm the victim, quickly break down barriers and force doubts out of their mind as they rush headlong into the relationship.
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The NCDV said: "It can be particularly enticing for someone who has been let down in the past, or who feels they have gone unnoticed in the world, or for those who feel they didn’t experience enough love and validation as children."
This rush of adoration can lead to our brains producing a dopamine hit quickly and regularly, leading "us to becoming emotionally dependent without even realising."
The NCDV does note not everyone who showers their new partner with attention ends up being abusive.
But those who do tactically love bomb will often do it for their own gain- whether this is to gain access to their victim's finances or for sex.
The NCDV also said they come across cases where people do it just to see if they can.
Once the victim is in love with their abuser the NCDV says "it’s then more difficult to get out of the situation when their true colours show."
They also said when the victim tries to reclaim some autonomy they are often as hurtful by their abuser who will sulk and try and make their victim feel guilty.
This all leads to a situation where "because we [the victim] are now emotionally dependent, it is too easy to apologise and comply" rather than achieve their goal of stepping back.