Women’s Aid responds to Prime Minister’s pledge to toughen laws on 'gaslighting'

By agency reporter
May 26, 2018

On 23 May 2018, during Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May pledged to tighten the law on 'gaslighting'. Gaslighting is a form of domestic abuse in which a victim is psychologically manipulated to the extent that they question their own judgement and even their sanity.

Responding to the Prime Minister's pledge, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Gaslighting is already a crime, covered under coercive control law, but we know from our work with survivors that there continues to be a lack of awareness about what this form of abuse is and the devastating impact it has on victims.

"Coercive control is at the heart of domestic abuse. Yet in 2016, only 57 men and two women were convicted for coercive control offences. As a result, the full force of the law is yet to be felt for those who continue to perpetrate this appalling crime.

“Gaslighting, which is a form of psychological abuse where the perpetrator manipulates their partner, can make victims doubt themselves, their memories and judgement, and it has a devastating impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse and is, by its very nature, sometimes difficult for victims to recognise. Since coercive control was criminalised in December 2015, there has been a real shift in our understanding about what domestic abuse is.

"We therefore welcome Theresa May’s commitment to toughen up laws on psychological abuse, including gaslighting, as this will help drive awareness about what this form of abuse is and how best to respond to it. This must include more specific examples of this form of abuse in the statutory definition that will be included in the Domestic Abuse Bill and be bolstered by robust and ongoing domestic abuse training, co-delivered by specialists like Women’s Aid, for all police staff to ensure that they can identify, understand and effectively respond to domestic abuse, especially coercive control.

“Without sustainable funding for all domestic abuse support services to underpin the Domestic Abuse Bill, more women and children will be put at risk. If the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill is effective, this will only drive demand for support from domestic abuse services. That’s why we’re calling on government to give survivors a cast-iron guarantee that they will not go ahead with planned changes to how refuges will be funded, which threaten these life-saving services with closure. We want to work with the government to establish a sustainable funding model for all specialist domestic abuse services, including refuges, so that every survivor and child can live a life free from abuse.”

* Women's Aid https://www.womensaid.org.uk/

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