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10 types of abusive behaviour that is officially illegal in a relationship

Lydia Smith July 26, 2018

Emotional abuse is a crime

Psychological abuse in relationships is now illegal under the new coercive control law, alongside physical and sexual violence.

According to a recent US study, internalised homophobia is driving “alarmingly high rates” of domestic violence among male couples.

Nearly half of the 160 couples surveyed – 45.6 percent –  reported experiencing some form of abuse with their current partner. A third said they had experienced emotional violence.

In England and Wales, the offence of coercive control now recognises that domestic violence can take many forms as well as physical, including emotional and psychological abuse through threats and restrictions.

Psychological abuse includes controlling or manipulative behaviour

Earlier this year, Scotland approved changes to the Domestic Abuse Bill to include psychological abuse and coercive controlling behaviour within a relationship illegal.

The following things are now classed as abuse:

Making you obey rules / forcing you to do things you don’t want to

Forcing you to obey strict rules or to do things you don’t want to, such as have sex, is abuse. The perpetrator may also use pressure to make you do things, such as threatening to withhold money, taking away the car or telling you that you have no choice in decisions.

Sharing sexually explicit photos of you

New legislation on revenge porn means it is illegal for your partner to share sexually explicit photos of you, both online and offline.

Recent figures obtained by the BBC found one in three allegations of revenge porn are withdrawn by the complainant, with some victims saying they were not granted anonymity and others saying there is a lack of police support.

Stopping you from seeing family and friends constitutes as abuse

Threatening to reveal private information about you

Threatening to tell others personal or private information about your health or sexual orientation is a form of abuse.

Restricting access to money

The law states that one partner cannot prevent the other from accessing money, which is known as financial abuse. Domestic violence charity Women’s Aid describes this as a pattern of “controlling, threatening or degrading behaviour that restricts’ victims freedom.”

Scaring you

Even if your partner does not physically assault you, scaring and intimidating you with threats can constitute emotional abuse. According to Women’s Aid, this includes angry gestures, shouting you down, threatening to kill or harm you or wielding a weapon or destroying your possessions.

Preventing you from seeing family or friends

It is also illegal to stop you from seeing family and friends, which can lead to isolation and gives the perpetrator more control over the victim. This involves monitoring or blocking a partner’s social media, phone calls or messages too.

Threatening to tell others personal or private information about you is a form of abuse

Harassment and verbal abuse

Constantly putting you down in front of other people, mocking, name-calling or being verbally threatening is a form of emotional abuse.

Installing tracking devices on your phone

Monitoring or blocking your phone calls, emails and social media accounts, or deciding where you can go and who you can see if a form of abuse.

Controlling what you wear

Controlling what you wear or the way you look can be a form of coercive control.

Extreme jealousy

Expressing extreme jealousy – which can lead to controlling or manipulative behaviour – is a form of emotional abuse, as is repeatedly lying or withholding information from you.

According to Women’s Aid, denial can also constitute as abuse – such as claiming the abuse isn’t happening, saying you caused the abuse, or crying or begging for forgiveness.

More: Crime, domestic abuse, domestic violence, relationships, UK

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