Around 60 people met to discuss coercive control in relationships and to hear testimonies of women’s experience of this damaging abuse. Two events were held at the University of Salford, on 9th November 2016, as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. These explored the meaning of the new crime of Coercive and Controlling Behaviour in section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. The organisers, Dr Kate Cook and Maureen O’Hara were very pleased with the turnout and with the warm feedback from participants.
The event began with a chance to view an exhibition of women’s words and art about their experiences of abuse and also about feeling stronger, following support. A great many women’s organisations from Manchester and Cheshire contributed to this and Sam, Debbie, Yasmin, Amber and Andrea all spoke of women’s personal experiences of abuse and helped the audience to understand the problems that these forms of criticism, manipulation, isolation and economic control can bring. The organisers thank everyone who got involved. One of the feedback comments was that: “this should go on tour” and both Maureen and Kate are committed to doing more work to investigate and publicise this new law.
Sian Hawkins – Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager from Women’s Aid, spoke about campaigning for this change in the law and about Women’s Aid’s work with the Archers storyline on BBC Radio 4. Maureen O’Hara explained the law, in some detail and examined some of the successful prosecutions to date which do include cases where men have received significant prison sentences. Maureen also answered a number of insightful questions, from the audience.
Thanks are also due to the staff at the University of Salford and the ESRC Festival, for supporting this event.