The landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 received royal assent in the UK on Thursday and effectively became good law. The Act set to crystallise the protection afforded to victims of domestic abuse by setting tougher measures against offenders by offering a more concrete definition for this criminal offence. The scope of liability is set to include a course of behaviour abusive to another where the two parties are connected and the victim is caused to suffer physical or psychological harm, or is reckless as to causing such harm.
New protections will mean that abusers will no longer be allowed to cross-examine their victims and civil and family courts to prevent intimidation whilst police will be given new powers to provide immediate protection to victims via Domestic Abuse Protection Notices. Claims will be extended to include post-separation abuse, whilst children third-parties witnessing domestic abuse will also be treated as victims of the abuse.
Individuals forced into homelessness as a result of domestic abuse will be afforded ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance.
Crucially, courts will be able to hand out Domestic Abuse Protection Orders which will create the obligation for offenders to seek mental health support or drug and alcohol rehabilitation as a preventative measure.
The new offence of non-fatal strangulation is established, whilst courts will be obligated to reject claims of “rough sex gone wrong” in cases involving death or serious injury.
According to the UK government, the new legislation provides protection for millions of people not protected by law in the past.