Monday 19 February 2018

Domestic violence bill is welcome - but is the law itself open to abuse?

Minister David Stanton Photo: Tom Burke
Minister David Stanton Photo: Tom Burke
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

The rules around sexual relationships are now bewilderingly grey. What constitutes sexual consent? To what extent does a woman need to take responsibility to keep herself safe? And the blurred lines between sexual harassment and pitiful attempts at courtship have been thrashed out with little resolution.

Now another issue has come to the table. Psychological abuse and controlling behaviour in relationships is to become a criminal offence. Known as "coercive control", it will be included in the Domestic Violence Bill 2017. If a person is found guilty of it, they can be punished with up to five years in prison.

It was put forward by Minister of State for Justice David Stanton and it will come before the Dail before Christmas or in early January. But is a few short weeks enough to thrash out the realities of a law that will have massive repercussions on broken relationships which come before our courts?

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