Bill bans “abhorrent” quizzing of domestic abuse victims in Court

Family abuse – man’s hands keeping woman’s shoulders, gray background

I woke up to welcoming news this week, that domestic abusers will no longer be able to cross-examine their former partners in the family courts. The news comes under a comprehensive package of reforms to tackle this very important issue.

The landmark draft domestic abuse bill has been awaited for some 18 months. It’s welcoming news for victims, especially since the changes to public funding access from 2013. Many victims of domestic abuse are put through a very harrowing ordeal, not only of suffering domestic abuse at the hands of the perpetrator but then to find out that the perpetrator would be cross examining them in the family courts.

This development has been broadly welcomed by campaigners. Particularly as, according to statistics, domestic abuse is on the rise.

The Government originally intended to prohibit domestic abusers cross-examining their victims in the family court through the Prisons and Court Bill in 2017, but that Bill was held up in the wake of that year’s snap election. This left victims and campaigners frustrated that the practice was able to continue.

This is not the only change in the draft bill to assist victims of domestic abuse. The draft bill is to include within the measures the first statutory government definition of domestic abuse, the appointment of a commissioner dedicated to tackling the issue and new protection orders to force perpetrators to attend rehabilitation programmes where substance misuse is a factor, or behaviour change programmes.

I am particularly delighted with this welcoming change for victims, who have already been through so much in their relationships. Many of whom having been brave enough to get out of that situation, particularly if there are children involved.

The last thing they need is the added stress and ordeal of having to undergo cross-examination by their ex partner – even if special measures are put in place by the Courts.

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