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Changes to the definition of domestic violence

The definition of domestic violence has been extended to include offences of coercive control and to cover young people aged 16 and 17.

This new definition came into effect nationwide on Sunday 31 March 2013. The full definition is provided below.

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: 

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour; is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour; is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Detective Superintendent Andy Clowser said: “Domestic violence can affect people of all ages, so I am pleased that the definition has been changed to better reflect this.

“The change, which has been launched across the country, has been introduced by the Home Office to lower the age limit to 16.

“This reflects the recognition that there are increasing numbers of young people affected by abuse who need help and protection from those who commit these offences.

“I hope that extending the definition will increase awareness that young people in this age group experience domestic violence and abuse, encouraging more to come forward and access the support they need.

“We work extremely hard with our partners to support victims of domestic violence and to bring those responsible to justice.

“We have specially trained and experienced officers to investigate domestic violence offences and to provide the best possible support to victims.

“It is important that victims know there is a wide range of support available to them, not just through the police, but through organisations including the local authorities and charities.

“I would encourage anyone suffering domestic violence to come forward and report it so that action can be taken to keep them safe.”

For more information about services and organisations available to support domestic violence victims in Dorset, please visit www.dorsetforyou.com/dvahelp.

Anyone suffering domestic violence can call Dorset Police in an emergency on 999 if a crime is taking place.

Alternatively, call the non-emergency number on 101 to report previous offences or ask to speak to the Domestic Abuse Unit.

Issued: 4 April 2013