Explicit Domestic Violence Offence must be in new Domestic Violence Law
Barnardos is disappointed to learn the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is not opting to make domestic violence against a spouse or partner a specific offence under the new Domestic Violence Bill. Instead accepting the advice of the DPP that there are complexities around defining what is domestic abuse and what is ordinary assault.
June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy, Barnardos said, “Domestic abuse is so much more than a physical assault so to not protect victims against it is failing to fully understand their experiences. While some victims do experience physical and sexual abuse, domestic abuse is often characterised by persistent, controlling and coercive behaviour that causes emotional and psychological trauma on victims, including children.
Sadly, every day Barnardos sees that living in an abusive environment leaves a massive emotional scar on a child. It can manifest itself in deep anxiety or aggressive outbursts, and can impact on their health, schooling, peer relationships and other developmental aspects.”
Ms Tinsley added “failing to include a specific offence of domestic abuse will undermine other progressive sections of the Bill which call for child impact assessments to be undertaken in domestic abuse cases and the proposal of hearing of children’s views and experiences through an expert in court cases affecting them.”
England and Scotland have defined domestic abuse in their laws and it sends out
a very clear message. We urge the Minister for Justice to do likewise. If the
law won’t explicitly protect victims from domestic abuse, we as a society are
complicit in accepting it is just a civil matter that doesn’t require criminal
Note to editors
- Read our policy report What’s the harm? A child centred response to domestic abuse
- Watch our short video uncovering 6 things you might not know about the impact of domestic abuse on children