The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) became law after gaining royal assent on 29 April. This landmark legislation aims to give added protection to the millions of people who suffer domestic abuse.
According to safeguarding minister, Victoria Atkins MP, the new law is:
“Set to transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to prevent offending, protect victims and ensure they have the support they need.”
These added protections include:
- Recognition for the first time that children who live in a home where domestic abuse takes place and who see, hear or experience the effects of that abuse can be victims in their own right rather than witnesses for the first time.
- An increase in the scope of controlling and coercive behaviour (which was made a crime under the Serious Crime Act 2015) to acknowledge that perpetrators can continue to abuse their victims when they no longer live together;
- A new non-fatal strangulation offence, making it an offence to intentionally strangle another person or do any other act that affects a person’s ability to breathe with a sentence of up to five years in jail (perpetrators could formally only be charged with the lesser offence of assault, if intent for attempted murder could not be proven);
- A ban on cross-examination of survivors in court, following a successful campaign by Resolution, The Law Society and Women’s Aid, who cited its “traumatic impact on victims” and the fact it “diminishes their ability to give evidence, preventing them from effectively advocating for their child’s best interests and safety”;
- A widening of ‘Revenge porn’ laws (introduced in 2015) to include threats to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress.
- An enshrining into law of the automatic priority need for housing and homelessness assistance for all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse aged 16 and over.
If you are affected by any of these issues, you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Visit our Injunctions and Emergency Relief page for legal support and information.