Victoria ahead of UK debate on emotional abuse

The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, is calling for a new criminal offence of “domestic abuse”. Her call has sparked a debate about whether non-physical bullying should be criminalised, with some victims in favour of the proposal, and others saying it should not be a crime. Here in Victoria, the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) already includes a broad definition of “family violence”, which includes emotional and psychological abuse, economic abuse, and “in any other way control[ling] or dominat[ing] the family member and caus[ing] that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person”. A victim can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a Family Violence Intervention Order, and breaching the order is a criminal offence carrying a term of imprisonment.