Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act

This legislation means that non-physical abuse, behaviour that is controlling or coercive in nature is now a crime.

Have you been the victim of this crime?

We are here to help

Contact us

Why is the legislation being introduced?

The offence closes a gap in the law by criminalising abusive behaviour that occurs on two or more occasions against an intimate partner, former partner or close family member. Abusive behaviour includes controlling or coercive behaviour, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse and economic abuse. This ensures that protection is not limited to physically violent behaviour, as at present. The offence can also capture physical violence, sexual violence and threatening behaviour if that is present.

  • criminalise psychological abuse of a partner, ex-partner or family member;
  • recognise the repetitive nature of domestic violence and abuse; and
  • reflect the victim’s and survivor’s experience.

This legislation also recognises the impact that domestic abuse has on children with the addition of two child aggravators, including where the victim of the offending behaviour is under 18, but also where an under 18 has been present during, witness to, heard or used in domestic abuse.

When did the legislation coming into effect?

The legislation came into effect in Northern Ireland on 21 February 2022, and with no retrospective powers – this will only provide police with powers to investigate behaviours and crimes that have occurred since this date

What now constitutes abusive behaviour?

Section 2 of the Act sets out what constitutes ‘abusive behaviour’. This section is non-exhaustive and is intended to guide the courts in determining the kind of behaviours the domestic abuse offence will cover.

Abusive behaviour can include (but is not limited to) coercive control, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, economic abuse, online and technological abuse. This section of the act brings controlling, coercive, emotional and psychological behaviour within the scope of the domestic abuse offence.

Section 2 sets out what constitutes abusive behaviour. It states:

The behaviour which is abusive of the victim, includes:

  • Behaviour that is violent (this includes physical and sexual violence).
  • Behaviour that is threatening.
  • Behaviour that is directed at the victim, a child (a person under 18 years of age) of the victim or any other person that has as its purpose one or more of the relevant effects on the victim.
  • Making the victim feel dependent or subordinate to the offender.
  • Isolating the victim from friends/relatives/sources of social interaction and support.
  • Controlling, regulating or monitoring the victim's day to day activities.
  • Depriving the victim of or restricting their freedom of action.
  • Making the victim feel frightened, humiliated, punished or intimidated.

How do I report to police?

Any reports to police about the offences under the new legislation can still be reported the same way by calling 101 in a non-emergency and 999 in an emergency.

Our call handlers have undertaken the specialist training to understand coercive control so you will be taken seriously and supported every step of the way.