Abusers who use non-fatal strangulation will face up to five years in jail under a new law planned by the government. Ministers plan to make non-fatal strangulation a specific criminal offence in the Domestic Abuse Bill which is currently being considered by the House of Lords.
Campaigners say it is a terrifying crime and is used by domestic abusers to control their partners and have been calling for the change, arguing that perpetrators are often only charged with common assault, meaning up to six months in jail. Because it may not leave any marks on the victim, prosecutors do not bring more serious charges.
Now, the government plans to make it a specific offence to intentionally strangle another person or do any other act that affects their ability to breathe. It will also cover suffocation.
Jenny’s story provided by the BBC:
For the five years they were together, Jenny’s abusive partner used non-fatal strangulation as a means of control.
“It was like his favourite thing to do,” said Jenny, “that sounds really awful and trivial but that is how it becomes as an abuse victim. You learn to accept that is part of your life. It was like something I had to manage.”
“We would wake up in the morning and he would be in one of those moods, and I would see it in his eyes, and I would think today’s the day I’m going to get it.
“It could be something as simple as: ‘I don’t like what you have got on’ – that would end in strangulation.”
Legislation will also be strengthened around controlling or coercive behaviour to no longer make it a requirement for abusers and victims to live together.
Laws to target so-called “revenge porn” will also be expanded to include threats to disclose intimate images with the intention to cause distress.
Whilst the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales, Nicole Jacobs, was delighted with the plans, she felt that the government must still go further to make this bill genuinely ‘landmark’, by increasing the provision of services in the community and ensuring protections are extended to all victims and survivors.
The government appears to be listening, help is out there. You do not have to live with or tolerate such abusive behaviour. If you are in an abusive relationship, we can offer advice and assistance on domestic abuse and your legal situation.