For immediate release 20.08.14

Welsh Women’s Aid welcomes consultation on criminalising coercive control


Today’s announcement that the UK Government will consult on whether criminal law around domestic violence should be consolidated and aligned with the Home Office definition has been welcomed by Welsh Women’s Aid (WWA). WWA have been campaigning for many years for the law to fully acknowledge the role of coercive controlling behaviour within domestic abuse, and this consultation is a step towards realising this goal.


Currently domestic violence is prosecuted under a range of separate offences such as Grievous Bodily Harm, Stalking, Rape and Sexual Assault. There is currently no single offence of ‘domestic abuse’ which acknowledges that the physical effects of domestic abuse are just a part of the wider pattern of controlling behaviour used by perpetrators. This pattern of control, known as ‘coercive control’ can include isolating victims from friends and family, financial control, or emotionally abuse. Due to the nature of these types of abuse, which can take place over months and years, it has, at times, been difficult for victims to fully access help from the criminal justice system.


In 2013 the Home Office amended their definition of domestic abuse to include ‘coercive control’, so today’s announcement is a welcome step towards the alignment of criminal law to better protect victims. Changes would also help to identify repeat and serial perpetrators


Criminalising coercive control will allow women experiencing domestic violence to seek police support with the damaging, humiliating, and isolating non-physical violence they experience, as well as helping the criminal justice system to link repeated incidents of physical violence by the same perpetrator.


Gill Owens, Director of Operations for WWA said:


“We welcome the news that the UK Government is consulting on criminalising coercive control as a positive step towards acknowledging the full reality of domestic abuse for victims, which is not just a one off incident of violence, but an insidious pattern of controlling behaviour.”


“Currently two women a week are murdered as a result of domestic abuse, so new tools to allow the Police to intervene and prosecute are an important step towards protecting victims and preventing these terrible crimes, as well as allowing people to better understand the reality of what domestic abuse really is.”




Notes for Editors:


  1. 1.For more information and to arrange contact a WWA spokesperson or for photos please contact Tina Reece (Welsh Women’s Aid) on 02920 541551 / [email protected]
  2. 2.The current Home Office definition of domestic abuse is:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse.

“Controlling behaviour is acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating and exploiting them; 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.

“Coercive control includes psychological abuse, which cannot currently be taken into account by the criminal justice system before sentencing, and recognises the repetitive nature of most intimate partner violence.”

  1. 3.To donate £3 to Welsh Women’s Aid to help us continue our work to end violence against women and children in Wales please text ‘BLHI37 £3’ to 70070;
  2. 4.Anyone affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact the All Wales Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 for 24/7, confidential information and support;
  3. 5.For more information on Welsh Women’s Aid, please visit