Include Ex Partners in Coercive Control Law

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On 29th December 2015, the Serious Crime Act, 2015 made ‘controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship’ a crime. 

This means that coercive control is a criminal offence BUT ONLY if the victim is in a relationship with the perpetrator, or living as a family under one roof. 

Ex partners are not included under the legislation, yet leaving an abusive relationship does not mean the abuse will end. For many, the abuse continues but currently, once the relationship is over, the coercive and controlling behaviour is no longer a crime.

For many victims, there will need to be on-going contact with abusive ex-partners because of children and often the abuser will continue to exert control over the children, the finances and the family home.

Evidence of coercive control in a relationship is a better predictor of domestic homicide than physical violence and the risk to victims increases when the relationship ends because the abuser has lost power and control, so will escalate efforts to regain it. 

It is therefore only right to criminalise coercive control not only for the duration of the relationship but also after separation.