In December 2019 the Government was elected with a manifesto commitment to “support all victims of domestic abuse and pass the Domestic Abuse Bill” originally introduced in the last Parliament.

The act aims to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state will do everything it can, both to support them and their children and pursue the abuser.

Is the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 in force?

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 came into force following the Domestic Abuse Bill being agreed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords in January 2022, and receiving Royal Assent.

In 2020, there were 2.3 million adults aged between 16-74 who experienced domestic abuse (ONS, 2020), meaning the timing of the Domestic Abuse Act was pivotal in protecting those vulnerable people.

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If you require specialist legal advice and would like to speak with a member of our family law team, call Paul Crowley & Co solicitors on 0333 200 0683

What does the Domestic Abuse Act mean?

The Domestic Abuse Act is the first act to provide a legal definition of ‘Domestic Abuse’. The Act allows for wider recognition in relation to domestic abuse related crimes as well as recognition to victims, survivors, and perpetrators.

It emphasises that Domestic Abuse is not just physical violence, but it can also be emotional, controlling, coercive and economic abuse.

The Act is in place to encourage victims to come forward as it seeks to punish the perpetrators of such crimes. It will also give victims the safety and confidence to come forward and report any experiences, safely knowing that this Act will do everything it can to both support them and their children and pursue a perpetrator.

Any gender can be the victim of Domestic Abuse. In the year ending March 2020, 1.6 million women and 757,000 men experienced domestic abuse in various ways (ONS, 2020).

Ashleigh says: “If you feel that you are suffering any form of domestic abuse, Paul Crowley & Co are here to help. We understand it can be difficult to know where to turn, you are not alone, for assistance and support call our dedicated family law team on 0151 264 7363.”

Ashleigh Shellshear, Paralegal
Paul Crowley & Co solicitors

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 definition, and the resulting changes to the law

New laws, and the expansion of existing laws, will be enacted to cover more forms of abusive behaviour and provide more legal basis for criminal action against perpetrators. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 commencement schedule sets out the dates on which the provisions of the Act will be enacted.

These include:

  • Post-separation abuse is to become a criminal offence extending the boundaries of ‘personally connected’ to include ex-partners and family members who do not live together.
  • Non-fatal strangulation is to become a criminal offence, carrying a sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
  • Revenge porn – the law been extended to include threats to share intimate images.
  • Rough Sex Defence – the use of this defence has been banned by restating in statute law that a person may not consent to the infliction of serious harm and, by extension, are unable to consent to their own death.
  • The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme also known as ‘Clare’s Law’ is now put on a statutory foundation under the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 – Allowing individuals to contact the police to ask if they or someone they know is in a relationship with someone who could pose an abusive risk towards them.
  • Children who reside in a home where domestic abuse takes place are now recognised as victims – Therefore acknowledging that the child is a victim, rather than just a witness.
  • Introduced Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders which will prevent perpetrators from contacting their victims, as well as force them to take positive steps to change their behaviours e.g., seeking mental health support.

How the act strengthens measures to help victims of domestic abuse within family proceedings

  • The Act has enabled the case of R v Brown to be placed into legislation, removing the deference of consent where the victim suffers serious harm (including actual bodily harm) or is killed.
  • Creates a statutory duty on the Local Authority to support victims of domestic abuse by making it necessary that they assess the need for accommodation-based support, prepare and publish a strategy to do so and monitor the effectiveness of the same.
  • The Local Authorities are to receive £125 million to make sure safe accommodation spaces such as refuges and shelters can provide victims with the support they need. The Government have pledged to increase funding for victim support services to £185 million a year by 2024/2025 and to fund more than 1,000 independent sexual and domestic violence advisers and 24/7 crisis helplines (Independent, 2022).
  • Creates a statutory presumption that complaints of domestic abuse are eligible for special measures such as separate waiting rooms, video link hearings etc.
  • The Act now prohibits perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person within family proceedings.

Am I entitled to legal aid?

To see if you are entitled to legal aid call our family law team on 0333 200 0683. It will only take a few minutes to assess and then Paul Crowley & Co will do the rest.

How to stop domestic abuse

The police are the first point of contact if you are experiencing domestic abuse.

However, the specialised family law team at Paul Crowley & Co solicitors can assist by taking action and helping you to obtain a non-molestation order.

A non-molestation order protects victims of domestic abuse by prohibiting the respondent from contacting the applicant, attending the applicant’s property within a certain number of metres etc. Once the non-molestation has been granted by the court, it has a power of arrest and if the respondent breaches the same, the applicant can call the police with the ease of knowing the respondent will be immediately arrested.

What if you live with the respondent?

The non-molestation order would not deal with the issue of who can reside in the family home. However, an application can be made for an Occupation Order which enforces the right to live in the family home, who is excluded from residing there and control who can enter the property.

Solicitors specialising in domestic abuse

If you are experiencing any form of domestic abuse or have concerns in your relationship regarding coercive control, we encourage you to contact our family law team on 0333 200 0683.

Paul Crowley & Co’s specialist family solicitors can provide assistance and support and advise you on the best course of action.

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To speak with a member of our family law team call 0333 200 0683 or fill out our contact form.

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