The definition of domestic violence will be amended from March with two important changes: the inclusion of coercive behaviour and the recognition of 16- and 17-year-olds as victims of abuse.

These amendments, although they are not a change in criminal law - as many have assumed - are broadly welcomed. By highlighting coercive control, there is now a clearer focus on patterns of controlling behaviour rather than individual incidents.

The inclusion of 16- and 17-year-olds is a much-needed development given that 40% of teenagers report abusive intimate relationships and that, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, those aged between 16 and 24 are the most at risk of domestic violence of any age group. Hopefully their inclusion will send a strong message to services and young people that their experiences are valid and that they need and deserve support. Young people aged 16 and over are able to get married and may well be parents themselves, yet until now their experiences of abuse have not been officially recognised.

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