It was hoped that the Domestic Abuse Bill would introduce measures to raise awareness and understanding about the impact of abuse, improve the effectiveness of the justice system in this area and strengthen the support for victims by statutory agencies.
The Bill would have properly defined the term “domestic abuse” to include financial abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.
It was proposed that a Domestic Abuse Commissioner would be established and a new Domestic Abuse Notice and Order would be introduced. Perpetrators of abuse were also to be prohibited from cross examining their victims in family proceedings.
The Bill faced difficulties originally in September, when Parliament was unlawfully prorogued. It was revived in the Queen’s Speech in October but now, as parliament is to be dissolved in November, the Bill will once again fail.
The Bill had been criticised by many, including charities supporting abuse victims, who felt that the proposals did not go far enough to protect victims of abuse. They argued that what was really needed was guaranteed statutory funding to help victims. Each week 400 applications for a place in a refuge are declined due to lack of funding.
It remains to be seen whether the next government will prioritise this issue to bring about the much needed changes in this area.