Domestic abuse is undeniably horrendous. For domestic abuse victims, it takes an enormous amount of strength to bring the perpetrator to justice. Recently, in the UK, a new Domestic Abuse Bill has been introduced to help victims more easily break away from violent partners or the person who is abusing them.
In our guide to the Domestic Abuse Bill, we outline what it means for victims as well as perpetrators and identify the key amendments to the new Domestic Abuse Bill in UK law.
What are the new amendments in the Domestic Abuse Bill in UK law?
New amendments were made to the Domestic Abuse Bill in 2020, which domestic abuse charities have welcomed. They are:
In the case of an abuser strangling their partner or abusee, often there are no marks left which make it difficult to charge them with GBH. The new non-fatal strangulation amendment means that if found guilty, a perpetrator could be sentenced to five years in prison.
The new amendments to the current law make it easier to charge and sentence a person who exhibits coercive behaviour. Previously, it has been difficult to charge a person with this crime but with the new legislation in place, abusers can still be charged with domestic abuse when there is coercive behaviour involved, even when they are not living together.
Revenge porn laws were introduced in 2015 but now, the new amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill mean that abusers can be charged, even if they make a threat to publicise intimate pictures of a person.
Protective court measures
When in court, the new bill also makes allowances for vulnerable individuals who do not want to see their abuser. That means protective screens can be used when giving evidence, or even a video link.
No cross examination
It is now possible for victims of abuse not to be cross-examined by their abuser's defence. Instead, it is possible to submit a long list of evidence that is supported by employers or doctors (for example) that proves the abuse has taken place.
In some instances, abusers continually drag their ex-partners back into court for one reason or another. The intention is to continue asserting control over them and making their lives a misery. In these circumstances, the new amendment to domestic abuse law makes it easier to enact a barring order, preventing the abuser from doing so.
Domestic homicide review
In the cases where domestic abuse sadly ends in death, police and other public authorities will now have to send their findings to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner. The intention is to learn from the unfortunate events to prevent untimely deaths occurring in the future.
Domestic Abuse Bill 2020 - key takeaways
The amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill last year were rightly welcomed by domestic abuse charities as it addressed some of the weaknesses in UK law. Bringing abusers to justice and empowering victims with the ability to leave an abusive situation is easier now, thanks to the widening of clauses and the introduction of the new legislation.