Victims of domestic abuse cannot be under 18 years old

In a recent case, a young man aged 20 was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison for the murder of his 17 year old girlfriend.  Despite the fact that he had repeatedly abused her, she would not have been considered to have been a victim of domestic abuse.  This is because the definition of domestic abuse is that both the victim and abuser are adults ie both 18 years or over.  Unfortunately, the definition is restrictive in that the services designed to support women in violent relationships and the agencies designed to support women in violent relationships could not have been able to help the 17 year old.

However, some local authorities have alredy tried to address the restriction by reducing the age at which people can access the domestic abuse service.  Unfortunately, there is no national consensus on this matter although the government does recognise the inconsistencies and has launched a consultation on the definition of domestic abuse.  The results are expected in the very near future.