Is domestic abuse a crime?

There is no single criminal offence of ‘domestic abuse’ but many forms of domestic abuse are crimes, such as harassment, assault, criminal damage, attempted murder, rape and keeping you locked up in the house. Being assaulted, sexually abused, threatened or harassed by a partner or family member is a crime just as it would be if committed by a stranger.

A new domestic violence law came into effect on 29 December 2015, which recognises that abuse is often a complex and sustained pattern of behaviour intended to create fear. The coercive control offence, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a fine, can be invoked if on at least two occasions a victim suffers serious alarm or distress that impacts on their day-to-day activities, or they are frightened of physical violence.

Read GOV.UK’s information about controlling or coercive behaviour for more information.

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