The UK government has announced new plans to tackle domestic abuse to make it harder for abusers to harm their partners. Under the new measures, the most dangerous abusers will be electronically tagged and monitored more closely. Those convicted of controlling or coercive behavior will be jointly managed by the police, prison and probation services, and their names will be added to the sex offenders register.
The Ask For Ani codeword scheme, which allows victims to signal that they need help, will also be extended. The latest Home Office figures reveal that around 2.4 million people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the last year, and about one in five homicides are related to it.
“If you don’t feel safe in your own relationship, if you feel you are walking on eggshells. If your partner seems to always know where you are or want to know what you are doing. If they have access to information they shouldn’t have. If they are controlling how you spend your time, your money, isolating you from friends and family, this could be signs and red flags of coercive and controlling behavior,” warned Ruth Davison, the Chief Executive of the charity Refuge, the largest domestic abuse organization in the UK.
Davison welcomed the government’s announcement, stating that it speaks to the scale of the country’s challenge. She added that the expanded definitions of domestic abuse, including coercive and controlling behavior, are a positive step and that educating young people about the issue is critical.
Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline. Extending the Ask For Ani codeword scheme to other locations, such as job centers and pharmacies, will significantly help victims.
While the new measures are a positive step, Davison believes that more needs to be done and has called for mandatory education about controlling and coercive behavior to be introduced in sixth forms.
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