Evidencing domestic violence*, including behaviour that falls under the new offence of ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’

Charlotte Bishop*, Vanessa Bettinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


In 2015 an offence of ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ was introduced under the Serious Crime Act, criminalising for the first time the non-physical abuse which so often occurs in the domestic context. This new offence implicitly recognises the psychological and emotional harm which can result from an ongoing pattern of behaviour, and the need to consider the controlling or coercive nature of this behaviour in the context of the power dynamics of the relationship in question. Unique evidential difficulties are raised by this offence, in part because of the ways in which gendered expectations can disguise the controlling and coercive nature of certain behaviours. At the same time, to increase the number of prosecutions for domestic violence offences, including under the new offence, acknowledgement of the ongoing trauma often experienced by victims, and the ways in which this may hinder their ability to safely and effectively participate in the criminal justice process, is required. We will outline recommendations to enable this participation, whilst also asserting the need for creative prosecution methods which allow these type of cases to be prosecuted without being solely reliant upon the victim’s oral testimony in court.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-29
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Evidence and Proof
Issue number1
Early online date7 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

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