Psychological abuse within a relationship is illegal, and a number of things that previously were not covered by the law are now outlawed.

The offence of coercive control recognises that domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence and can take several different forms.

Controlling or coercive behaviour was introduced as a criminal offence in the Serious Crime Act 2015 and can include economic, emotional or psychological abuse and threats alongside physical or sexual violence.

In 2021, a review into domestic homicide sentencing was commissioned, to be carried out by Clare Wade KC.

More than half (51%) of the murder cases looked at in the Wade Review involved controlling or coercive behaviour.

The government says controlling or coercive behaviour is:

  • acts designed to make a person feel inferior and/or dependent by keeping them apart from friends, help and support. It can include taking advantage of their money and things they have, stopping their independence, and controlling what they want to do.
  • an act of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim.

These are ten acts towards a partner that are illegal.

Sharing sexually explicit images of a partner

New laws surrounding ‘revenge porn’ make it illegal for someone to share intimate photographs of you with anyone, online or otherwise, under the Malicous Communications Act.

Restricting access to finances

Even if they earn more money than you, the law says your partner cannot stop you from accessing cash within the relationship.

Putting you down

Persistent name-calling, mocking and other forms of insulting behaviour are now illegal.

Stopping a partner from seeing friends or family

Monitoring or blocking of calls and emails, telling you where you can or cannot go, and preventing you from seeing your friends or relatives is now against the law. IF your partner isolates you from the people you love, they could face the wrath of the law.

Scaring you

Your partner might not physically assault you, but if they are doing enough to frighten you, they are committing an offence. That could include using their size to intimidate or breaking things around the house.

Threatening to reveal private things about you

Repeated threats to reveal personal and private information is now classed as a form of abuse. It could include revealing details about health or sexual orientation.

Putting tracking devices on your phone

It is illegal under the new legislation to “monitor a person using online communication tools or spyware”.

Being extremely jealous

Persistent accusation of cheating and “extreme jealousy, including possessiveness and ridiculous accusations of cheating” all come under the new legislation.

Forcing you to obey their rules

The CPS says if a partner is forced to abide by stringent rules set by a partner, it could mean they are committing a crime.

Controlling what you wear

Your partner taking control over any part of your life is highlighted in the new legislation, including restricting who you see and where you go. Controlling what you wear or how you look could also now be grounds for prosecution under the changes.