Emotional and psychological abuse in an intimate relationship is now a crime in Ireland.
The Domestic Violence Act of 2018, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, created a new criminal offense of “coercive control.” Coercive control is defined as:
“Psychological abuse in intimate relationships that causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress that has a substantial adverse impact on a person’s day-to-day life, manifesting as a pattern of intimidation or humiliation involving psychological or emotional abuse.”
Coercive control is already illegal in England and Scotland. Psychological violence is illegal in France.
In a radio interview, Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid in Ireland, explained coercive controllers frequently forbid or regulate their partners’ “freedom of movement, freedom of association, and who they spend time with.” Listen to the full radio interview here:
The law against coercive control
According to a statement by Charlie Flanagan, the Irish minister for justice and equality, the new law offers the following protections for victims of domestic violence and coercive control:
- An extensive but non-exhaustive list of factors that courts must consider when dealing with applications for domestic violence orders.
- Safety orders will be available to persons who are in intimate relationships but who are not cohabiting.
- Victims of domestic violence will be able to apply for an emergency barring order, lasting for 8 working days, where there is an immediate risk of significant harm. Emergency barring orders may be granted even if the victim has no legal or beneficial interest in the property or has an interest which is less than the perpetrator’s.
- Protection against cross-examination conducted in person of the applicant or respondent by the respondent or the applicant respectively where orders are being sought.
- Courts will be required to give reasons for decisions relating to applications for orders under the Act.
- It will be possible for victims to give evidence by live television link both in civil cases and in criminal cases for breaches of orders.
- A victim will have the possibility of being accompanied to court by a person of his or her choice to provide support during a civil hearing.
- The court will be able to seek the views of children where a safety or barring order is sought on behalf of a child. The court will have the option of appointing an expert to assist the court to ascertain the views of the child.
- The Courts Service will have an obligation to offer victims information on domestic violence support services.
- The courts will have the possibility of recommending that a perpetrator engages with services such as programmes aimed at perpetrators of domestic violence, addiction or counselling services.
- Restrictions will be put in place on media reporting and attendance by the general public at criminal court proceedings for breaches of civil domestic violence orders.
- A new criminal offence of forced marriage.
- A new criminal offence of coercive control.
- Where a violent or sexual offence is committed by a person against his or her spouse, civil partner or person with whom he or she is in an intimate relationship, that fact shall be an aggravating factor at sentencing.
- The legislative provisions that enable persons who are aged under 18 to marry are repealed.
- Existing provisions on domestic violence are brought together in one piece of legislation to make the legislation easier to use.
For more information, read: