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So, you get home from work, start making tea (dinner, if you’re in the south), make the following day's packed lunches, shout for everyone to sit down for their tea, empty the dishwasher, shout for everyone to come down for their tea again, empty the bin, shout for everyone to come for their tea again, start eating your tea, and about mid-way through, the family comes and joins you for their tea. They gobble it down as quickly as possible, whilst avoiding all eye contact so that you don’t ask them to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher (or even worse - wash them by hand). 
I am told by work colleagues and friends that it is a similar story in many peoples life. You, can therefore imagine my surprise when I read about the lady who was arrested for asking her husband to do house work, you can read it here. 
Must be many people's dream; having the other half arrested for not doing their share around the home! How has this happened though?  
Well according to the CPS, Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship. Prior to the introduction of this offence, case law indicated the difficulty in proving a pattern of behaviour amounting to harassment within an intimate relationship (the Statutory Guidance cites the following cases - Curtis [2010] EWCA Crim 123 and Widdows [2011] EWCA Crim 1500).  
MG Legal, Solicitors in Preston note that a pattern of controlling or coercive behaviour can be well established before a single incident is reported. 
In many cases the conduct might seem innocent - especially if considered in isolation of other incidents - and the victim may not be aware of, or be ready to acknowledge, abusive behaviour. The consideration of the cumulative impact of controlling or coercive behaviour and the pattern of behaviour within the context of the relationship is crucial. This approach will help to effectively assess whether a pattern of behaviour amounts to fear that violence will be carried out; or serious alarm or distress leading to a substantial adverse effect on usual day-to-day activities. 
This writer cannot comment as to whether this really was a case of coercive control, or whether this is was simply the case of a disgruntled partner who wanted to go to the gym and was asked to do the hoovering instead; however, we do note that this case did not proceed due to key witnesses no longer wishing to support the prosecution. 
My first worry was that I often leave little notes around the house such as “please put your dirty underpants in the washing machine so I don’t have to touch them!”: does that mean I am a perpetrator of coercive control? Thankfully, I have never left a note and followed it up with one of the below: 
Unreasonable demands - Often followed up by threats, pressure or physical restraint if you don't agree to them. 
Degradation - such as malicious name–calling, or bullying behaviour. This could include buying clothes that are purposefully too small for you to 'diet' into, or constant belittling behaviour in front of your friends, designed to make you feel worthless. 
Restricting daily activities. Such as meeting your family or friends. If you feel increasingly unable to carry out your normal routine, it's usually a strong signal for concern. 
Threats or intimidation. If your behaviour isn't to their liking, you are threatened or intimidated into changing it. 
Financial control. Can include constant monitoring of your spending, or giving you an 'allowance' to live off (usually when it's your own money they're controlling). 
Monitoring of time. Stalking your movements, unwanted contacted, or being controlling about how you spend your time is a form of coercive control. In one case the accused phoned his partner between 30 and 40 times a day! 
Taking your phone away. Or changing passwords to your iPad or laptop so you can't use them. This could include any form of restricting access to communication, information or services. 
Restricted mobility. If you're unable to leave the house, or use your car because they won't allow it. If your partner's behaviour isolates you from friends, family or colleagues, then it's important to seek help. 
Deprivation of food. Constantly – and purposefully – taking your food away or limiting your allowance is controlling, abusive behaviour. 
Destruction of possessions. Whether it's something valuable, emails or text messages. 
If you need help in relation to family law matters contact MG Legal, local Solicitors, on 01524 581306 or via
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors 
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