THE LAW over abusive and controlling behaviour will change thanks to an academic’s research.

Cassandra Wiener said victims of coercive control in Sussex were left unable to report their crimes and the ongoing abuse after leaving a relationship because of loopholes in the Domestic Abuse Bill.

It left victims unable to report controlling behaviour and threats if they were no longer in a relationship with the perpetrator, so offenders could get away with “horrific” examples of abuse.

Working along with charity Surviving Economic Abuse, she was able to show to the government that ex-partners can still pose a risk and that this should be included in the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Coercive control is a dangerous type of domestic abuse where an abuser uses a pattern of behaviour – including economic abuse and abuse of child contact orders - over time to exert power and control. It is extremely dangerous and can, tragically, end in serious violence, murder, or loss of life.

Cassandra did her work as a doctoral researcher at the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex.

University of Sussex researcher Cassandra Wiener

University of Sussex researcher Cassandra Wiener

It has earned her praise from the Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Tickell who said it is a “fantastic” achievement for Cassandra and co-campaigners.

Cassandra said: “I have spent the last six years working with survivors of coercive control, and I have witnessed first hand what this devastating form of abuse does to women and their children.

“The law, as it was, did not do enough to protect some of the most vulnerable.

“I witnessed women being forced, post separation, to comply with their abusers’ unreasonable demands while desperately trying to keep themselves and their children safe.

“Thanks to our campaign - and in particular to the hard and brilliant campaigning work of Surviving Economic Abuse with whom it was a privilege to work - women will be better protected.

“We all know that coercive control does not end with a relationship. Now, this protection won’t either.

Research was done at the University of Sussex

Research was done at the University of Sussex

“This is a really big moment for me personally, and I would like to thank the brave survivors whose readiness to speak out has made this reform possible.”

Her work included approaching MPs and members of the House of Lords, and sitting at roundtable talks with the government and Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs.

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Prof Tickell said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Cassandra and her co-campaigners, and one which promises to deliver justice and protection to many people.

“It's great that the government was so receptive to the evidence uncovered by Cassandra's research.

Adam Tickell

Adam Tickell

“To me, this underscores the value that academics working on social issues offer, and demonstrates the real-world impact they can have.

“Cassandra's work is a powerful example of the University's spirit in action: courageously challenging convention to bring about a better world. Well done Cassandra."