Domestic abuse law plan backed by Bolton women's refuge Fortalice

Gill Smallwood

Gill Smallwood

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , news feature writer

BOLTON charity Fortalice has welcomed the government’s proposals to criminalise emotional torment suffered by women in abusive relationships.

Home secretary Theresa May headed a consultation yesterday to adjust current domestic abuse laws by adding a new offence to include men who bully and cause psychological harm to their partners.

Home Office statistics state two women are killed every week in England and Wales through domestic abuse.

Gill Smallwood, director of services at Fortalice, a charity set up for women and children who are affected by domestic abuse in Bolton, says that emotional abuse is often where domestic violence begins, with many women not even aware it is happening.

She added: “If this goes through it should give women the opportunity to escape the clutches of their abusive partner as emotional abuse will be recognised as being a crime.

“Many women who are being abused don’t even realise what is happening because it is seen as ‘normal’ to them, and that’s where it begins.

“It is so subtle that it becomes a way of life.

“Emotional, controlling behaviour can build and build, and sometimes we see this explosion because the victim cannot take it any more. The danger of this is that the victim can become a criminal from their actions relating to the years of emotional and physical abuse.”

The consultation, launched by Home Secretary Theresa May, asks whether the law needs to be strengthened in order to provide better protection to domestic abuse victims.

Under existing law, non-violent coercive and controlling behaviour is covered by legislation that covers stalking and harassment but this does not explicitly apply to intimate relationships.

CASE STUDY 1

TRICIA, aged 65, endured 42 years of marriage before finally fleeing her home and her controlling husband.

He would not allow her to have her shoulder-length hair cut and when she left the house he would check where she was going and how long she would be. He went through the till receipts just to see if she had been to the shops and check the time involved.

If he felt she had been somewhere other than where he had approved, he would constantly question her until all hours of the night, preventing her from sleeping. She would then have to get up for work as usual the next day.

He tried to isolate her from her children, which caused constant arguments when he would become violent.

Until the physical abuse started, Tricia thought her husband’s controlling behaviour was “normal and acceptable”. She had only ever been in a relationship with him so had nothing to compare it with.

CASE STUDY 2

LOUISE arrived at the refuge with her severely autistic seven-year-old dau-ghter after suffering 12 years of mental, emotional and physical abuse.

Her partner had not allowed her to nurture her son or to be a mother to him. She was never allowed to show love to her son, which she said was “breaking her heart”.

In the refuge, Louise finally began to get to know her son. She said: “He makes me smile all the time.”

CASE STUDY 3

LISA, a mother of five children aged from two to 11 years old, was forbidden to see her friends or family.

Her partner constantly demanded who had called or sent her text messages and would often smash up her mobile phone. This made her feel even more isolated and unable to look after the children to the best of her ability.

Comments (1)

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10:19am Thu 21 Aug 14

I.careless2 says...

I am sorry to disillusion you all but murder is also a crime but people still do that.

As one who suffered for may years with domestic abuse before I finally got the guts to get out what you need to tackle is the punishmnet the offenders get
You need to make safe houses / areas acessable to victims who in many cases just cant work out how they are going to get their children and possessions away from these animals
I was lucky I got a safe house outside bolton so my ex spent months watching the likes of fortalice to spot me so I managed to stay safe many miles away
Abusers are smart they know where to look locally for their victims within the family and places that advertise

We need to help the victims get out of the area and also offer support to help them move even if it involves the police keeping the offender in confinment until the victim has got their stuff out of the homes and got to far away to be followed,
they nearly always have no money to do this themselves and this is one big hurdle they just can't get around
Men and women are both victims of domestic abuse although few ever think about this and men have an even harder time finding safe places to retreat to.
I am sorry to disillusion you all but murder is also a crime but people still do that. As one who suffered for may years with domestic abuse before I finally got the guts to get out what you need to tackle is the punishmnet the offenders get You need to make safe houses / areas acessable to victims who in many cases just cant work out how they are going to get their children and possessions away from these animals I was lucky I got a safe house outside bolton so my ex spent months watching the likes of fortalice to spot me so I managed to stay safe many miles away Abusers are smart they know where to look locally for their victims within the family and places that advertise We need to help the victims get out of the area and also offer support to help them move even if it involves the police keeping the offender in confinment until the victim has got their stuff out of the homes and got to far away to be followed, they nearly always have no money to do this themselves and this is one big hurdle they just can't get around Men and women are both victims of domestic abuse although few ever think about this and men have an even harder time finding safe places to retreat to. I.careless2
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