A message of hope for domestic-abuse victims


A RECENT “landmark” case will show victims of domestic abuse that they are not alone, according to the States police, who have said the prosecution “won’t be the last”.

An offender who made his victim feel “incredibly unsafe and anxious” has become the first to face the new specific charge of domestic abuse.

The man received a community service and probation order, as well as a domestic abuse-specific restraining order.

He was also placed on the new Domestic Abuse Offenders Register.


Detective Constable Emma Fewtrell, the officer in charge of investigating the offence, said: “This is a landmark case. We’ve now got the first conviction and sentencing and it won’t be the last.

“Hopefully now when people realise that, actually, somebody has been put before the court and convicted, that might give them that confidence to think: ‘It’s a difficult situation, but I might report it to the police.’

“Even if they don’t report it, the message is that there is other support out there and they don’t have to be alone in that journey.”

She recounted how the victim in this case had lived through coercive and controlling behaviours.

She said that in other cases victims had experienced a partner or ex-partner hiding in cupboards, turning up at their place of work, creating fake social-media accounts, or taking ID documents to prevent travel or applying for benefits.

Detective Sergeant Karen Houston, who leads the offender management team, said: “We’ve got quite a lot of cases in the court system over the next two months, which shows that people are coming forward and reporting it.”

But the sentence for this first offender was “disappointing”, DC Fewtrell said.

“We were hoping for around three years’ custodial, but I accept that he’s had some time on remand.

“It was disappointing for the victim.

“But ultimately, we’re in the hands of the courts, and should he try and make contact, he would be breaching [probation] and we would be expecting that he would be put back before the court and for them to be quite stringent with what they decided to do with him at that point.

“The victim obviously is quite upset, quite worried that he is now not in custody.”

Marine Oliveira, who leads the Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board’s work on domestic abuse, added that the judicial process was long and difficult for victims.

“People want to be sure that they’re going to get a conviction,” she said.


The law has now been in place for just over eight months.

Its introduction meant that for the first time, coercive control – such as financial or emotional abuse – as well as repeated patterns of abuse over a period of time, could be punished as a specific offence.

Abusers face up to five years in prison.

The law also created the possibility for people convicted of other offences but who fitted a pattern of domestic abuse to be placed on a newly created Domestic Abuse Offenders Register, which works like the Sex Offenders Register, and to be given domestic abuse protection orders similar to restraining orders.

DC Lucy Edworthy, who is on the offender management team, commented after the sentencing: “We try to take those proactive management steps rather than just waiting until something bad happens.

“It’s a very positive and forward-thinking piece of legislation, and the courts are enforcing it, which is really good to see.”

The law creates options to investigate and prosecute what officers and the courts had already been seeing – but had no legal framework to pursue, DS Houston explained.

The focus in the first case was on coercive and controlling behaviour, “which is huge for us”, she added. “Because a lot of the time you turn up at a domestic incident, and there’s been a bit of an argument, you get half the story, and no one’s caused damage or been physically hurt.

“Before, we’d just say there’s no offence – but then if this is happening every single week, there’s a pattern happening.”

Training was rolled out last year around the offence, she added, and police officers have started looking for more emotional and psychological red flags.

Breaking the cycle

DS Houston said that often abusers’ behaviours were difficult to change, and added that her team was working with the Probation Service to identify programmes that worked in other jurisdictions.

“They’ve got to be suitable for the programme and willing to engage.

“That’s not easy with a domestic perpetrator because they don’t want to admit they’re a domestic perpetrator, so we need to look at what else there is to educate them and rehabilitate the behaviour, because it is a cycle that needs to be broken.

“If we don’t break that cycle, that behaviour is going to continue, not just with that partner, but potential future partners.”

While sex offenders can often identify their behaviours and are embarrassed by them, this was not the case with domestic perpetrators, she explained.

Spotting the signs

This week saw the launch of the 2024 Spot the Red Flags campaign, which encourages employers to watch out for signs that their staff might be victims of domestic abuse.

“First of all, employers can look at training and education of their entire workforce, not just for the leadership teams but also for their employees,” said Ms Oliveira.

“The second thing that they can do is look at their existing policies and consider implementing a domestic-abuse policy to support and highlight clearly things like mechanisms of support, reporting systems, what resources will be allocated to training.”

She added that education meant that people were more likely to report – but that technology had made more types of abuse possible.

At a launch event for the campaign on Thursday, domestic-abuse campaigner Sharon Livermore told the audience about an “amazing” relationship that had deteriorated to the point where she discovered her then-husband in the boot of their car armed with knives and cable ties ready to kidnap and kill her. She said that if she had driven off that day, she would not be alive today.

A survivor of emotional abuse has spoken about her experience in this weekend’s JEP now her abuser is behind bars.

She wrote that “an abusive relationship can build subtly over time”, adding: “No one in my workplace would have known what I was going through. To all intents and purposes, from what I shared on social media and from the perspective of family and friends, I was happy.”


New Home Affairs Minister Mary Le Hegarat condemned domestic abuse as “abominable behaviour which causes significant and lasting harm to victims”, adding that having it as a specific offence recognised its complexity and the damage it caused.

She said: “I am pleased to see this very important piece of legislation now fully in action, further to being brought into force last year, providing the strongest possible protection for victims.”

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