The Domestic Violence Act of 2018 went into effect in Ireland on Wednesday, which includes the offense of coercive control.
The offense is committed when a person:
knowingly and persistently engages in behaviour that-
(a) is controlling or coercive,
(b) has a serious effect on a relevant person, and
(c) a reasonable person would consider likely to have a serious effect on a relevant person.
Having a “serious effect” is defined in the law as one that causes a person to “to fear that violence will be used against him or her, or serious alarm or distress that has a substantial adverse impact on his or her usual day-to-day activities.”
A person who is convicted of the offense can face up to five years imprisonment and fines. In order to be able to be charged with the offense, the person must be a spouse or civil partner of the victim, or had been in an intimate relationship with the victim.
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, has stated that “[t]he new offense of coercive control recognizes that the effect of non-violent control in an intimate relationship can be as harmful to victims as physical abuse because it is an abuse of the unique trust associated with an intimate relationship.”
A survey of Irish Women found that 31 percent experienced psychological violence by a partner, and 23 percent experienced controlling behavior. The Domestic Violence Act of 2018 is part of Ireland’s Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021.
Ireland has made several significant legal changes in recent months. In October Ireland voted to remove the word blasphemy from the Constitution. In September Ireland enacted a new Constitutional amendment to repeal the Constitutional ban on abortion.