A welcome change to the law

27 Sep

I heard on the news today that there is going to be a change in the definition of the law in England.

Psychological abuse is to be added to the list of what may consitute domestic violence.  Whilst it is not a new or additional criminal offence, it should give claims more credibility and it will hopefully change society’s attitude to domestic violence.

Psychological abuse, emotional abuse, coercive manipulation, control, bullying or subjugation:- these are all words which are too easily dismissed by too many, yet are a reality for a large proportion of the population.

A black eye or a bruise will elicit sympathy and words of condemnation for the perpetrator, yet the effects of mental abuse are all to often misunderstood and sadly, are not always taken as seriously as they should be. Only in relatively recent years, has society come to demand that a rape victim or somebody who reports their spouse or partner for physical violence is treated with respect and compassion by the police and the judicary, yet spare a  thought for how hard it may be for somebody with no outward signs of abuse to stand up and report  a partner.

I have experienced vastly differing attitudes and reactions in my own situation by people.  Some members of the police force and especially the specialist Domestic Violence Unit are beyond reproach, but too many fail those who approach them for support.

As a survivor (I refuse to label myself a victim), I had to wrestle with feelings of guilt and failure whilst trying to combat years of low self-esteem and a lack of self-belief in myself, my abilities and my judgement and I had to face people who sneered at my actions and who tried to make me believe that I was the one who was acting inappropriately.  They could not understand how bad things must have been during my marriage and thought that I was selfish for reporting my ex to the police.  I was labelled a trouble maker for trying to wreck his life and damage his career and I was called spiteful and selfish.

Is it selfish to expect somebody who is constantly harassing you day and night to stop their behaviour?  Is it selfish to expect to be able to walk down the street without looking over your shoulder the whole time?  Surely it is a basic human right that an individual can go about their day to day business without concealing their identity?  I would shop at supermarkets at 11pm just so that I wouldn’t bump into any of the people who sided with my ex and who mocked my allegations of his psychological abuse.

It will take a long time to change the attitude of our society or naive or bigotted individuals, but this addition to the law is at least a start.

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