UK Government to update definition of domestic violence
The Government are to consult on whether the definition of what constitutes domestic violence should change.
The Government will consider whether the element of coercive control – which can include emotional abuse – should be included in the legal wording.
The law could also be expanded to cover those under 18 – at present they are formally excluded from the definition.
Campaigners say extreme levels of emotional control are the most common precursor to domestic killings.
In theory, cases in which one partner exerts excessive control over the other – preventing them going out, or visiting friends or relatives, for example – could be pursued under the “psychological” element of the existing definition.
However, in practice such cases rarely are, so the government is considering whether the legal definition should be widened to expressly include what it calls “coercive control”.
The consultation will run until 30 March 2012.