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West Mercia Women's Aid has welcomed the announcement that the legal definitions of domestic abuse will be broadened to include non-violent abuse, and will also apply to young people under the age of 18. The new guidelines come into effect in March 2013, and it is hoped that they will help raise awareness of domestic abuse, and also help ensure that more prosecutions are brought forward as a result.

Many people experiencing domestic abuse will not be physically attacked, yet some examples of abuse might include being prevented from leaving the house, owning a mobile phone, isolation from their family and friends or having finances controlled by a partner or family member.

For WMWA, the new guidelines are a positive development, despite the fact that the organisation has always understood the detrimental effects non-violent abuse can have on those experiencing domestic abuse. It is very common for our service users to tell us that the mental scars left by psychological abuse are present long after any physical scars have healed.

WMWA has also long recognised the potentially devastating effects of abuse on young people whether they are directly involved in abuse or not, which is why projects such as CRUSH have been launched to offer support and guidance to young people at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse.

The CRUSH Project is aimed at 13 - 19 year olds and helps them to make safe and healthy relationships, and aims to break the cycles of domestic abuse. Click here to find out more.