Home Secretary Theresa May has unveiled a new domestic abuse offence of coercive and controlling behaviour within relationships.
The maximum penalty for the new offence will be five years imprisonment and a fine.
Home Office said the new law will help protect victims by outlawing sustained patterns of behaviour that stop short of serious physical violence, but amount to extreme psychological and emotional abuse.
Victims of coercive control can have every aspect of life controlled by their partner, often being subjected to daily intimidation and humiliation.
Coercive and controlling behaviour can include the abuser preventing their victim from having friendships or hobbies, refusing them access to money and determining minute aspects of their everyday life, such as when they are allowed to eat, sleep and go to the toilet.
“Domestic abuse is a hideous crime that shatters the lives of victims, trapping them in cycles of abuse that too often end in tragic and untimely deaths,” Ms May said. “Coercive control can be tantamount to torture. In many cases, dominance over the victim develops and escalates over the years until the perpetrator has complete control. Putting a foot wrong can result in violent outbursts, with victims living in fear for their lives.”
Ms May said she was more determined to fight domestic abuse after meeting survivors of domestic abuse and hearing their shocking stories.
“The government is committed to protecting the victims of this terrible crime and it is clear that this new offence has the potential to save lives,” Ms May said.