A new report from think tank the Centre for Social Justice has called for a widening of the offence of domestic abuse to include cruel mind games.
Under the proposal, a man (or woman) who resorts to “mental torture” to subjugate a partner would face the threat of criminal prosecution.
Christian Guy, Managing Director of the CSJ, said: “It is time to put the law on the side of those trapped in coercive abuse. Without this action many people who could be free and restored, will remain trapped and broken.
“These strategies attempt to deprive the victim of autonomy, freedom and dignity and place the perpetrator in a position of absolute power over him and her.
“Strategies include depriving the victim of money, making requests that become gradually more and more unreasonable (such as requests about not going out, not seeing friends, or checking levels of cleanliness around the house), locking the victim up and making threats of harm to any children involved.
"Research suggests that many victims seeking help from refuges do so because they have experienced this form of abuse.”
Professor Julie Taylor, Head of Strategy and Development: High Risk Families, at the NSPCC warmly welcomed the report. She said:
“This evidence-based report is welcome at a time when we are recognising increasingly both the short and long term harms that domestic abuse creates: for society, the economy, family structure; victims; and most especially children. The emphasis on parental support and the parent-child relationship is a central feature of the report and is to be commended.”