This consultation is perhaps one of the most important to date. Domestic violence is a highly complex set of behavioural patterns, sometimes misunderstood and worryingly overlooked, often with disastrous consequences and for those of us who work in the family justice system it is a form of abuse we see too often, and in the many forms it can take.
The current definition of domestic violence is: any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members”.
The consultation is thinking about widening this definition to include ‘coercive control’, as domestic violence is often characterised by one person exerting control over another and it is that control which experts believe lead to domestic violence-related deaths; far more so, they say, than any other type of physical behaviour within domestic violence cases, prior to the physical act of homicide. (The BBC website has a very good article on this topic).
Now, the Home Office have released this questionnaire, which essentially seeks to examine the current definition of domestic violence and whether or not it should be changed. There are four options offered, which are: