New potentially life-saving legislation which will give everyone the right to check if their partner has a history of domestic abuse is set to become official at last.
It’s called Clare’s Law and named after Clare Wood, a mum who was murdered by a man she’d met on Facebook with an undisclosed criminal past relating to violence against women.
Ms Wood, 36, met George Appleton through Facebook. He strangled her and set her body on fire in Salford, England, before taking his own life.
At the time of the murder in 2009, Wood’s friends and family were shocked to find Appleton was known to the authorities for past domestic abuse.
Police have been able to provide information on domestic abuse suspects since 2014, but at their own discretion.
Now a universal legal right to check the pasts of partners – or partners of relatives and close friends – will be enshrined in law.
— G M Police (@gmpolice) March 8, 2018
Politicians have responded to the legislation overwhelmingly positively, showing the importance of a change in law and attitudes to domestic abuse.
PM Theresa May said:
We know from the harrowing experiences of victims and their families there is more to do to stamp out this life-shattering crime.
This Bill will bring about the changes we need to achieve this. It represents a step-change.
The plan is to be announced in a new Domestic Abuse Bill to be published on Monday January 21, and the system will be overseen by the new role of Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
— Refuge (@RefugeCharity) July 24, 2017
The legislation will define what constitutes abuse and for the first time, controlling and manipulative behaviour will be included.
Partners who block access to money as a form of abuse will also fall under the new laws, the BBC reports.
Abuse can also involve humiliating and threatening behaviours – like driving fast because your partner knows it scares you – or purposefully isolating you from family and friends.
Abuse could make you doubt your independence, or manifest when your partner consistently checks your private messages and dominates the domestic scenario with their manipulative mood changes.
At times it’s easy to make excuses for a loved one when their violent and psychological manipulation is directed at you and shrouded in emotion and isolation.
It’s harder to accept the truth of the matter: Domestic abuse is criminal.
Speaking to UNILAD in 2017 about domestic violence, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said:
Every couple has arguments and disagreements – we all say and do things we later regret. Domestic violence is systematic, purposeful and patterned behaviour designed to control another person.
If a woman is forced to change her behaviour because she is frightened of her partner’s reaction, then she is being abused.
Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, psychological, economic or sexual. Abuse tends to become more frequent and more severe over time; even if you are not being hit, you may still be being abused.
If your partner is excessively jealous or possessive, or if he controls where you go, who you speak to, how you dress or wear your hair, these are all signs of domestic violence.
Most importantly the legislation will state police now have a duty to provide information when it’s requested.
Victims will no longer be cross-examined by abusers in court and offenders who are reliant on drink or drugs will go into rehab.
There will also be more support for children affected by domestic abuse and extra funding for disabled, elderly, male and LGBT victims.
For support and information, you can call the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Refuge and Women’s Aid.
You can also call the Men’s Advice Line (managed by Respect) on 0808 801 0327.