Today’s Solutions: May 23, 2022

Trigger warning: this piece discusses domestic abuse that some readers may find distressing.

New legislation has been put in place in Northern Ireland that will recognize coercive control as a criminal offense. The law came into power in February 2022 under Section 28 of the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act Northern Ireland which means this type of domestic abuse is now illegal across every country in the UK.

What is coercive control?

Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland (WAFNI) defines coercive control as “an intentional pattern of behavior (often used alongside other forms of abuse) which can include threats, excessive regulation, intimidation, humiliation and enforced isolation. It is designed to punish, dominate, exploit, exhaust, create fear, confusion, and increase dependency. Over time it can lead to a complete loss of self.”

Coercive control can happen to all sexes, though the issue overwhelmingly impacts women. This crime is a huge problem in Northern Ireland, with statistics showing an instance of abuse occurs every 17 minutes in the country.

Sonya McMullan, who works at WAFNI stated: “In Northern Ireland, we have some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the UK. There were 31,817 domestic abuse incidents recorded from April 1, 2019, to March 21, 2020, which is, on average, one incident every 17 minutes. There have been five women murdered with a domestic abuse motivation in the last year.”

Additional legal aid support 

The new law change means survivors of coercive control will also get support in the form of legal aid. A characteristic of cohesive control is the abuser taking control of the victims’ money or restricting their access to income.

After going through this traumatic process, the victim is commonly not able to afford legal aid for court cases and child custody battles. This new law change means that victims will now be given free access to this deserving legal aid when they jointly own property with the abuser, giving people a chance to get a fair verdict on their case.

Why is this new law important?

This type of domestic abuse can have devastating and sometimes even fatal consequences for its victims. Legal recognition of the issue means that people’s human rights are being protected. The new law means coercive control breaches several Human Rights Act regulations, including your right to life, right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and your right to peaceful enjoyment of your property.

Supporting victims in this way lets them know that their voices are heard, confirms what happens to them was wrong after their abuser has manipulated them into feeling otherwise, and prioritizes their recovery.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

New program seeks to break the cycle between jail and homelessness

Several factors can lead to homelessness: a lack of affordable housing, high costs of living, and even, sadly, mental illness. Another factor that contributes to homelessness, which is often overlooked, is incarceration.  Many individuals serve ... Read More

How a century-old cargo schooner is bringing back emissions-free shipping

The shipping industry is responsible for 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — putting about 940 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Before 1960, however, when containerization started to take off, ... Read More

Dam! Europe removes record number of river barriers in 2021

In 2021, Spain began a movement to remove dams from the country’s rivers to restore fish migration routes and boost biodiversity across the nation. They successfully took down 108 barriers and inspired other European countries ... Read More

This contact lens releases glaucoma medication

While it is treatable, glaucoma remains a serious eye disease that can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, and research ... Read More

US soccer and national teams reach agreement to close gender pay gap

In a historic win for women’s rights, US Soccer and both the women’s and men’s national teams have proclaimed a collective bargaining agreement to close the gender pay gap and ensure that each player, regardless ... Read More

New immunotherapy drug combo slows liver cancer growth in mice

There is something of an art to the science of medicine. We’ve all heard that everyone’s different, and so is their biology. Sometimes, developing the right treatment for a patient’s condition takes dedicated and creative ... Read More