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|Title:||'Greater than the mere sum of its parts': coercive control and the question of proof|
|Keywords:||Coercive control;child arrangements/contact;evidence;fact-finding;risk assessment|
|Citation:||Barnett, A. (2017) 'Greater than the mere sum of its parts': coercive control and the question of proof -  CFLQ 379-400.|
|Abstract:||This article considers how domestic abuse is understood by policy-makers, legal and child welfare professionals and judges in England and Wales, and what the implications of these understandings are for proving domestic abuse and assessing risk in private law Children Act proceedings. It focuses, in particular, on how the dominant incident-based perception of domestic abuse fails to capture the gendered nature and the ongoing, cumulative process and effects of coercive control. It explores how the incident-based approach, epitomised by fact-finding hearings, together with the burden of proof and dominant images of ‘safe family men’ and ‘lying manipulative mothers’, compound the difficulties women experience in proving allegations of abuse. In so doing, it analyses the eight recently reported cases on child arrangements and contact in which allegations of domestic violence were made to determine whether any change can be discerned in how domestic abuse is understood. It concludes that, while some trial judges have a broader awareness of coercive control, the fact-finding process, with its focus on proving ‘the truth’ of individual allegations of violence, and the continuing drive by the appellate courts to promote contact ‘at all costs’, obscure the ‘bigger picture’, with serious consequences for the assessment of risk.|
|Appears in Collections:||Dept of Politics, History and Law Research Papers|
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