The first conviction and sentencing for coercive control in Ireland has been handed down at a circuit court in Donegal on Tuesday.
According to the Domestic Violence Act, coercive control occurs when a current or ex-partner knowingly and persistently engages in behaviour that is controlling or intimidating.
It may prompt a person to fear that violence may be used against them or they may be suffering serious alarm or distress that has a substantial impact on their day-to-day activities.
In isolation, the pattern of behaviour that leads to coercive control is not a criminal offence, but, when viewed together, displays a web of abuse that is insidiously and forcibly eroding at a person’s quality of life.
Speaking after the first conviction at Letterkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday, Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, Garda National Protective Services Bureau said:
"Coercive control is an insidious and demeaning crime designed to degrade and debilitate an individual and their persona. It is a deeply dangerous and personal crime against the person usually committed over a prolonged period."
"This conviction and sentencing, the first of its' kind in the state, further demonstrates An Garda Síochána's dedication to fully investigate all matters related to this vital legislation in order to protect some of Ireland's most vulnerable persons."
The victim of coercive control may have their freedom of movement reduced; coercive partners often control every aspect of their lives from personal finances to daily freedoms such as transport and access to family and friends.
An Garda Síochána want to make it know that they can provide support and information to victims of coercive control.
"If a victim wishes to make a formal complaint, we can investigate," their statement reads.
"To assist us in investigating coercive control and preparing a strong case, we will need to gather evidence such as a diary the victim has been keeping, text messages and emails that highlight the abuse, and accounts from family and friends.
"Anyone with any information relating to coercive control is asked to contact their local Garda Station or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111."
If you were distressed by the content in this article, please contact:
- Women’s Aid National Helpline – 1800341900 – www.womensaid.ie
- Amen – 046 9023718 – www.amen.ie
- Crime Victims Helpline - 116 006 – www.crimevictimshelpline.ie
- Rape Crisis Network Ireland – 1800778888 – www.rcni.ie