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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 14:02 GMT
Views on the domestic violence bill
Abuse victim
Many women feel 'trapped' once violence begins
Two women victims and a man falsely accused of domestic violence give BBC News Online their views on planned new laws.

Under the new rules, people will be banned from approaching former partners even if they were acquitted of violence by a court.

All of the parties interviewed asked to remain anonymous.

Fear

One woman said she was still concerned that her former partner might find her.

She said she did not ever want her former partner to know where she and her children are.

"I don't want him to ever find us or ever knock on the door," she said.

"You can never relax when you're told you can't get an injunction against your former partner until he actually does something.

I was wrongly accused by my former vindictive partner
"But hopefully, this new law might help me in making sure he can never come near me again."

A man who was falsely accused of domestic violence said he was in favour of the new bill, but expressed concern that certain areas could be exploited.

"I was wrongly accused by my former, vindictive partner," he said.

Malicious intent

"She withdrew the allegation two days before the court hearing and pleaded with the Crown Prosecution Service not to pursue the matter. All charges were dropped.

The question people ask is: 'Why doesn't the woman just leave?' but it is rarely as simple as that
"I fear this bill will open the floodgates for respective partners to "get one over" the other one. If this is to be the case, so-called "incidents" will escalate.

"Consideration must be given to those who are wrongly accused," he said.

Another woman welcomed the proposals because "they highlight the issue of domestic violence and show women that society is taking it seriously."

Making violence an arrestable offence with a prison term - as the new rules propose - will send out a strong signal, she added.

She was at pains to point out the complexity of living within a violent domestic environment.

"The question people ask is: 'Why doesn't the woman just leave?', but it is rarely as simple as that," she said.

"I was a traditional housewife and I had no income, my share of the house was my investment in the future, so I couldn't leave."

Restricted access

This woman was a long-term victim of domestic violence by her husband - a chartered accountant - who did not acknowledge there was a problem.

She admitted she stayed in the relationship for 14 years after deciding she should leave.

"No one would believe me when I told them what he did," she said.

Domestic violence incident
Each year 120 women and 30 men are killed by current or ex-partners
"I don't feel women and their children should have to leave their homes to escape a violent partner. I think the perpetrator should be removed so the children don't have to go away and lose their friends, their school, their local identity."

The proposal in the bill on restraining orders will help women and children to stay at the house if they want to, she said.

She added she had been unaware of the new proposals at first because media coverage of the Queen's Speech had focussed on asylum seekers and top-up fees.

"But if one in four women are subject to domestic violence at some point of their lives, that's about 7-8 million women, it affects a lot of people," she said.

Victims of domestic violence are invited to call the Refuge 24 hour national freephone line on: 0808 808 9999.


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