Government must extend legislation to protect victims of post-separation abuse.
Tuesday, 6th June 2020
One in four women report that their former partner continues to economically abuse and control them after the relationship has ended, yet the current legislation offers them no recourse.
Alongside the charity Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA), I am calling for an amendment to the current proposals of the Domestic Abuse Bill to extend the existing legislation on coercive control to post-separation abuse. It is vital that all victims and their experiences are included in this bill.
'The current offence of controlling or coercive behaviour only covers situations where people are either a) in an intimate relationship with each other or b) living together and are either family members or have previously been in an intimate relationship with each other.
Crucially, this means in cases where two individuals are no longer in an intimate relationship and don’t live together, behaviour by one of them towards the other cannot fall within the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour. This is the situation that women who have left abusive partners find themselves in.'
- Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, CEO of Surviving Economic Abuse,
The abuse my mother experienced carried on after she moved home and separated from my father, as is so often the case. For example, my mother was struggling immensely to survive post-separation from my father. Seeing her weakness in wishing to reconcile, my father drew up a post-nuptial agreement that forced her to complete a divorce with him and accept a fraction of the settlement. This not only ensured she was financially unstable but gave her no rights to their home. Further terms of the agreement sought to coercively control my mother further demanding that they only go out together, that she stopped talking to strangers, stop interrupting and stop smoking.
I believe the control my father sought to exert in this period compounded the psychological impact on my mother. It’s vital to specifically recognise the bespoke nature of post-separation abuse by ensuring the Domestic Abuse Bill provides a complete acknowledgement of survivors experiences and protection in the future. If left unchecked, the impact of economic and emotional abuse can be total on survivors.
SEA is the only UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of economic abuse and transforming responses to it.