Domestic Abuse Bill

Written evidence submitted by 361 Life Support (DAB79)

Introduction - 361 Life Support

361 Life Support is a national user led survivor network for survivors of abuse created by Alice Smith, a teacher and survivor. 361 mental health recovery programme empowers women with a unique emotional education to reconnect with society. We challenge society’s current limited understanding of abuse and the labels of victim and survivor. 361 Life Support believes survivorship is a legacy. We ask - victim, survivor, what lies beyond?

361 Life Support - our 3 main goals -

To provide emotional education for abused women and for society

To facilitate mental health recovery by helping survivors to reframe their stories in order to give their experience value

To provide opportunities for survivors to reconnect with society in a meaningful way

More information at


361 Life Support welcomes the bill and wishes the committee to consider several amendments which come from the lived experience of our members who have recovered from domestic abuse. Our main points can be summarised as -

Redefine the term ‘domestic abuse’ as ‘Trust Fraud’

A fuller definition of ‘economic abuse’ to cover fraudulent behaviour

Including provision within the bill for shared private home owners by regulating the conduct of banks and mortgage companies in repossession hearings caused directly by economic abuse. Shared private home owners are currently omitted from this bill.

Extend the definition of abuse as ‘conduct towards’ in the following way - ‘conduct directed towards family members, either physically or in terms of their mental health and/or conduct directed toward’s B’s pets.’

Adding education to the commissioner’s responsibilities as education holds both a preventative and a supportive function within society

Adding PTSD and other mental health diagnoses when considering ‘significant distress’ of the witness and making courts responsible for ‘PTSD friendly’ provision



Definition of ‘domestic abuse’

Amendment One

361 Life Support asks that we re examine the language used to create the narrative of this bill -

(1) We ask that the committee consider redefining the term ‘Domestic Abuse’ to ‘Trust


Amendment Two

3d) Subsection 4) The bill states that, ‘Economic abuse affects ability to acquire property or obtain goods or services.’

We ask for a fuller definition of ‘economic abuse’ to include ‘fraudulent behaviour’.

Notes related to this amendment from lived experience - Middle class women who share property ownership with men are currently excluded from this bill. Abusers often use the court system to force repossession or continue their economic abuse in the courts. Banks can also be coercive in this respect, harassing only one name on the mortgage of the property rather than holding the abuser equally responsible in law for the debt. We would like to see an acknowledgement in this bill of the economic abuse within shared property ownership, the subsequent forced sale of the family home and/or repossession following the end of an abusive relationship. This addition to the bill would fully and more fairly recognise for all sections of society the crime referred to in 4a) ‘Economic abuse affects ability to acquire property or obtain goods or services.’

Amendment Three

(5) A’s behaviour may be behaviour "towards" B despite the fact that it consists of conduct directed at another person (for example, B’s child)

We ask for the following additions - ‘conduct directed at another person (for example - children, family members) either physically or in terms of their mental health and/or conduct directed toward’s B’s pets.

Notes on this amendment from lived experience - abusers can harm family pets as well as the mental health of family members. Statistics and our lived experience show that abuse includes conduct towards family pets that can include threats and causing fatal harm and we strongly feel that this harmful behaviour should be acknowledged as a hate crime.



Amendment Four

6. General functions of commissioner.

(1) The commissioner must encourage good practice in -

d) ’the provision of protection and support to people affected by domestic abuse.’

361 Life Support believes that this provision should be amended to ‘the provision of protection, education and support to people affected by domestic abuse.’

Notes on this amendment from lived experience - 361 Life Support argues that this provision be extended to include education - which holds both a preventative and a supportive function within society. We believe that this provision should be emotional education for men, women and society.


Secure tenancies

Amendment Five

65. Grants of secure tenancies in cases of domestic abuse

Notes from lived experience of economic abuse as a private homeowner - There is no mention of private home owners, the conduct of banks/mortagage companies and/or private landlords currently in this bill. Middle class professionals and shared home owners do suffer domestic abuse. We believe that this bill should be amended and extended to cover bank’s/mortgage company’s responsibilities in such cases and their behaviour towards the abused party, the conduct of bailiffs and the procedures involved in repossession when forced house sale is directly caused by economic abuse. This would include regulating the conduct of banks and mortgage companies in such cases.


Cross examination in family proceedings

59 Prohibition of cross-examination in person in family proceedings In the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, after Part 4A insert-



Amendment Six

31U - direction for prohibition of cross examination in person: other cases

361 Life support would like to see PTSD recognised in:

(5) In determining whether the quality condition or the significant distress condition is met in the case of a witness or party, the court must have regard to, among other things-

‘Significant distress’ to include - i) the mental health of the witness including diagnosis of PTSD and/or any other significant mental health illness directly caused or exacerbated by the abusive conduct of the party.

Notes for this amendment from lived experience - Court procedures must acknowledge the mental health of witnesses (especially with a diagnosis of PTSD or when the witness exhibits signs of PTSD) and put appropriate support in place including being responsible for ‘PTSD friendly’ admittance procedures (the searching of witnesses can and does trigger PTSD.)

12 June 2020


Prepared 16th June 2020