A new law in the United Kingdom aims to help people trapped in an abusive marriage, even without physical abuse. The legislation makes it illegal for spouses to psychologically bully their partners.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
It is illegal for both men and women to hit their spouses. It's domestic violence. But the law has little to say about what sometimes happens before the physical attacks - psychological and emotional abuse. That is set to change in England with a new law that went into effect today. NPR's Robert Smith reports from London.
ROBERT SMITH, BYLINE: Charlotte Kneer's husband was controlling, especially when it came to the finances.
CHARLOTTE KNEER: When I was pregnant with our first child and I gave up work, my husband - he would make me justify every single penny, and I really felt that it was begging him for money.
SMITH: That wasn't all. He would tell her how she could communicate with her family, would threaten to reveal things about her to her friends. And eventually, he tried to strangle her. That's when she left. That's when he was arrested.
KNEER: Whilst the violence was awful - and it was - it's also the other behaviors that are so confusing.
SMITH: Because to Kneer, all of this abuse - the physical and the emotional - felt like part of something bigger - a complete dominance and control over her life. The new law taking effect today in England and Wales recognizes this, and it's considered groundbreaking. A spouse can now be arrested for all sorts of controlling and cohesive behaviors like keeping someone financially captive or isolating a partner from their friends and family...Read More