The Domestic Abuse Act

The Domestic Abuse Bill passed both Houses of Parliament and was signed into law on 29 April 2021.

What will the Domestic Abuse Act do?
The Domestic Abuse Act is set to provide further protections to the millions of people who experience domestic abuse, as well as strengthen measures to tackle perpetrators.

How will the Act help victims?

The Domestic Abuse Act will:
•create a statutory definition of domestic abuse, emphasising that domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but can also be emotional, coercive or controlling, and economic abuse. As part of this definition, children will be explicitly recognised as victims if they see, hear or otherwise experience the effects of abuse;
•create a new offence of non-fatal strangulation;
•extending the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse;
•extend the ‘revenge porn’ offence to cover the threat to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress;
•clarify the law to further deter claims of “rough sex gone wrong” in cases involving death or serious injury;
•create a statutory presumption that victims of domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal, civil and family courts (for example, to enable them to give evidence via a video link);
•establish in law the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, to stand up for victims and survivors, raise public awareness, monitor the response of local authorities, the justice system and other statutory agencies and hold them to account in tackling domestic abuse;
•place a duty on local authorities in England to provide support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation;
•provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance;
•place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (“Clare’s law”) on a statutory footing;
•ensure that when local authorities rehouse victims of domestic abuse, they do not lose a secure lifetime or assured tenancy;
•provide that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse automatically have ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance;
•stop vexatious family proceedings that can further traumatise victims by clarifying the circumstances in which a court may make a barring order under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989;
•prohibit GPs and other health professionals from charging a victim of domestic abuse for a letter to support an application for legal aid

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