Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service is devoted to supporting high risk victims of stalking. Sara Charlton Charitable Foundation is a grant making charity dedicated to combating domestic abuse in the UK and Women's Aid, the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children and support a network of over 350 dedicated specialist domestic violence services across the UK. We have joined together to campaign for a new law that criminalises domestic violence. Some of the most dangerous cases happen when domestic abuse, stalking and coercive control co-occurs. This is where women and children are more likely to be murdered and early identification and intervention is vital to saving lives.
The laws used to prosecute domestic violence – including breach of a restraining order, damaging property, assault, burglary, rape, kidnapping and murder – do not describe it’s essence. It misses the fact that domestic abuse is about fear and a pattern of continuing acts. However, the Crown Prosecution Service only prosecutes for a single event and tends to focus on the injury level. As a direct result, the seriousness of the pattern of abuse is not identified or understood, victims become entrapped, abuse and rape become normalized and no-one goes to prison without injuries being present. Put simply, the criminal law does not conceive many women in abusive relationships as victims of ongoing abuse.
Unacceptable controlling, domineering and demeaning behaviours currently fall outside the law and cumulative harms are ignored when each abusive incident is treated as an isolated offence. Victims often report that "the violence isn't the worst part" of being abused and that the non-violent forms of abuse can be more devastating than physical or sexual violence. However, current law also leads to minimisation of abuse by police and courts. Only 3 men are convicted and punished for abuse for every 100 reports of abuse by men.
A more comprehensive criminal law is needed to close the gap between the current response and the long term oppression and suffering of victims and children. It will save lives and money.
We want to hear from professionals working within the domestic violence sector. Your experiences will help inform our campaign to keep victims and their families safe.
All responses will be anonymous.