The decision to broaden the definition of domestic abuse in the UK as outlined by the Home Office to include coercive control has been welcomed by professionals who work with victims of domestic violence and young victims of gang violence. The changes are timely as the numbers of young people between the ages of 16 to 18 experiencing intimate partner abuse increase. The lack of awareness of psychological abuse which tends to be about power and control is exacerbated by the fact that there is more focus on family type relationships.

There is very little awareness with regards to abuse amongst teens which often starts very slyly using various tactics - anger, intimidation, blame, coercion, isolation which culminates in complete control of the victim. Because this type of abuse is not often visible, very few victims seek help or make an effort to leave abusive relationships. According to recent statistics released by NSPCC, a British organisation, only 8 per cent of girls surveyed told a parent or carer about the abuse they were being subjected to by a partner/boyfriend.

It is important to realise that most teen abusers who use power and control in most instances fail to realise the impact of their behaviour and could easily grow up to be abusive spouses/partners There are growing concerns being raised by professionals working with young people in inner cities that abusive behaviour from boys and young men is considered as a normal part of relationships by young girls and women.

A study carried out in 2007 by the NSPCC a children's charity, showed that three quarters of girls and half of boys experienced some kind of emotional violence from their partner and 1 in 3 girls had experienced some sexual violence. A British crime survey also recently revealed that 16-19 year olds were the group most likely to suffer abuse from a partner and the figures were estimated at 12.7 per cent for girls and 6.2 per cent for boys. There is often the fear that reporting these abuses could lead to young people being ostracised from their peer groups. The roles that girls play in gangs found in inner city estates means that a good number of them are subjected to horrific treatment by male members of the gang.

The broad definition of domestic abuse will enable the police and prosecutors to abandon the narrow interpretation of the term so that non-physical behaviour which can also be applicable to teenage victims as young as 16 is included. The benefits of this change will no doubt, take time. Effective awareness raising will only be achieved by adopting various strategies such as integrating the changes into the UK school curriculum to educate young people about the devastating effects of domestic violence which in some cases, end in homicide.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012.

Comment on this Post


No doubt any changes take time, but what a great step forward! Thank you for sharing that great news! Each and every aspect of all types of abuse need to eventually come to light and be managed. How great to have this form of abuse which is easily overlooked by many finally being focused on and hopefully mitigated to some degree.

Great post!

This is wonderful news Kabukabu. As you mentioned,abuse of any kind is always beyond the physical violence and torture. Many a times the child/girl/woman is psychologically scarred for life.To make matters worse, the intimidation works as a deterrent on her growth prospects and later affects her future life as well.

By increasing the ambit of domestic abuse, it will help many to come out in the open and talk about it.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful news.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Dear Kabukabu, Thank you for sharing with us the wonderful piece of news. Its a great move outlined by the home office in UK to broaden the definition of the heinous crime of "domestic abuse". You are right sister, 'domestic abuse' is not limited to just violence per se. The after effect of 'mental abuse and torture' culminated by anger, intimidation and coercion is very heart wrenching. Physical abuse is easy to detect but psychological abuse and manipulations build over time. But both leave long lasting damage on victims heart and mind.

Its very heart warming to note that government has taken a step. Though it will take time to see the difference but taking the first step is important. Every step counts. I hope this kind of law enforcements happen in every country. Government as well as non government social service agencies should work towards it to enforce these laws, raise awareness and create a 24 hours crisis hotline so that victims can call and take help. Also each of us should be vigilant towards us, towards our sisters and raise awareness and voice whenever possible.

To all my sisters, who have faced these type of situations, we should remember that "it's not our fault if we are subjected to these kind of abuses. Each of us, as a human being deserve to be loved, honored and valued". Under no circumstances we should tolerate these acts. We need to be aware and spread awareness and be always ready to reach out to the victims.

Like 'justice delayed is justice denied, tolerating injustice, and abuse is equivalent to support and facilitate such atrocious acts'. Justice and peace are very closely related. And if someone is denied her fundamental right and not loved and respected, it's injustice and such situations create havoc in the broader sense of peace. So in my opinion until we have not taken care of justice at this individual level, all bigger steps towards justice will turn out to be hoax.

Lets be together and fight for our basic human rights of love, respect and dignity. May God bless everyone! Thank you so much. Love Nusrat

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ..........Hellen Keller

People sometimes forget or don't realize that these issues of violence against women happen in all places and in all contexts. Thank you for this reminder that it affects all of us!