The new Domestic Violence Act, which came into force on 2 January 2019, is set to provide further protection for victims of domestic abuse in Ireland.
One of the most notable improvements is that the law will now help protect against psychological and emotional abuse.
Sometimes referred to as coercive control, or gaslighting this sort of abuse centres on psychological manipulation and abuse that can cause extreme distress or fear or violence. Ireland is the third country in the world to make it an offence, following England and, more recently, Scotland.
"For too long, domestic violence has been seen primarily as physical abuse, ”Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said.
"The new offence of coercive control recognises that the effect of non-violent control in an intimate relationship can be as harmful to victims as physical abuse because it is an abuse of the unique trust associated with an intimate relationship.”
Domestic violence charity, Women’s Aid, has welcomed the new law but emphasised that it needs to be properly resourced, to be effective.
From today, new domestic violence laws come into operation that extend eligibility for safety orders to young women who experience abuse in dating relationships & recognises an intimate relationship as an aggravating factor for sentences in cases before the courts. #DVAct2018— Women's Aid Ireland (@Womens_Aid) January 1, 2019
The Domestic Violence Act 2018 will increase protections for victims under both civil and criminal law.
Other improvements under the new laws include safety orders for those who are in intimate relationships but not co-habiting, and emergency eight-day barring orders where there is an immediate risk of harm.
With the new act, Ireland has also moved a step closer to ratifying a Council of Europe Convention on combating domestic violence and violence against women.
If you have been affected by domestic abuse, Women’s Aid operates a 24hr National Freephone Helpline: 1800 341 900