'excellent progress' Ireland's first coercive control conviction praised as sign of 'culture change'
IRELAND'S first conviction for coercive control by a trial has been praised as a sign of a "culture change" amid calls for lawyers and judges to better understand domestic abuse.
On Wednesday, a jury convicted a 52-year-old Dublin man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, after the first trial under the 2018 Domestic Violence Act.
The jury found the man guilty of charges of coercive control, intimidation, assault and 12 counts of assault causing harm.
Coercive control, which was only criminalised in Ireland two years ago, is a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour.
Sarah Benson, the chief executive of Women's Aid, said her organisation was aware of a number of other alleged coercive control cases that were making their way through the legal system.
She said coercive control could include single incidents that might not be criminal offences on their own but can be used as "tactics designed to isolate someone, erode their self-esteem and their sense of self worth".
"It would be true to say that the vast majority of domestic violence and domestic abuse relationships occur in the context of coercive control," she said.
"Criminalising coercive control is an incredibly important piece of legislation because that is how domestic violence and abuse manifests itself, in a pattern of behaviour.
"To see that being recognised and vindicated by a jury is really excellent progress."
She said awareness of coercive control is grow- ing among gardaí and the public, but there still needed to be much better awareness among the legal system.
Safe Ireland, an umbrella group representing 39 frontline domestic abuse services, said the verdict showed "a cultural understanding of the crime of coercive control".
"This is a landmark case in Ireland, and we hope that it will encourage many other women living with the terrorising pattern of coercive control to come forward and to know that they will be believed and understood," Safe Ireland spokesperson Catriona Gleeson said.