Support Bill to Make Emotional Abuse Illegal


Target: Harry Fletcher, criminal justice expert

Goal: Support a bill that proposes to include emotional abuse in the definition of domestic violence

For too long, emotional abuse has been unjustly minimized in our judicial system and society at large. But now, a bill in British Parliament seeks to change our definition of domestic violence to include “emotional blackmail”. Under this new wording, domestic violence that involves emotional abuse with no physical violence will still be illegal under the nation’s laws.

A draft bill proposes criminalizing “contact with a victim in an aggressive way” or to “intend to control or coerce” their partner. The bill defines emotional abuse as “controlling or coercive behaviour” which would “encompass but is not limited to physical, financial, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse”. Offenders could face up to fourteen years in prison, making the new provisions on par with the present response to physical abuse.

“It is extraordinary that domestic abuse is not a criminal offence in the UK,” said Harry Fletcher, who devised the bill. “…The measure would increase victim confidence to report the crime, lead to more thorough investigations and convictions, and help keep women safe.”

The draft text would operate on a kind of ‘three-strike’ principle, in which offenders who have committed at least two acts of violence, violent threats, or threatening action, would be subject to a “course of conduct” which would allow police to press criminal charges. Although more imprisonment for offenders is not exactly an ideal solution to criminal issues, this is at least a step in the right direction toward taking emotional and verbal abuse seriously for victims.

Please sign this petition to support the British Parliament obtaining a wider and more nuanced understanding of domestic abuse.


Dear Mr. Harry Fletcher,

I would like to thank you for your work on behalf of all survivors of domestic violence. You have brought an intricate understanding of the power dynamics at play in abusive situations in order to create more proactive legislation to aid survivors and their children.

I would like to show particular support for the drafted bill that would feature a more nuanced definition of domestic abuse and would include emotional and verbal abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as damaging if not more so than physical abuse, and it’s past time we have recognized it for the damage it causes survivors and families.

Please continue your efforts to aid victims of harassment and domestic abuse and draft intelligent legislation to foil and discourage perpetrators.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Gillian Miller Gillian Miller says:

    This legislation has already come into being so why are you asking for it?

  2. stephen woodhams says:

    to Gillian Miller
    which legislation are you referring to?

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94 Signatures

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