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Bullying Partners Could Face Five Years In Jail
People in a relationship who consistently emotionally and psychologically bully their partner could face jail under Government plans.
The legislation is aimed at protecting victims whose partners threaten them with violence, cut them off from friends or refuse them access to money.
Home Secretary Theresa May is looking at creating a new offence which would give emotional abuse the same status under law as physical abuse.
Currently non-violent coercive and controlling behaviour is covered by legislation that concentrates on stalking and harassment. This does not explicitly apply to intimate relationships.
Polly Neate, Women's Aid chief executive, said: "This is a vital step forward for victims of domestic violence.
"Two women a week are killed by domestic violence, and in our experience of working with survivors, coercive controlling behaviour is at the heart of the most dangerous abuse."
The Home Secretary said: "The Government is clear that abuse is not just physical. Victims who are subjected to a living hell by their partners must have the confidence to come forward.
"Meanwhile, I want perpetrators to be in no doubt that their cruel and controlling behaviour is criminal."
The Government has also introduced the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as Clare's Law after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009, which enables the police to disclose information about previous violent offending by a partner.
And the introduction earlier this year of Domestic Violence Protection Orders means perpetrators of domestic abuse can be prevented from returning to the home for up to 28 days.