New domestic violence laws passed in the Dáil

The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 includes the offence of coercive control for the first time.

New domestic violence laws passed in the Dáil

File photo of a woman covering her face, as the Dáil passes new domestic violence laws. Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

New laws criminalising emotional and psychological abuse have passed the final stages in the Dáil.

The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 includes the offence of coercive control for the first time.

Coercive control is generally recognised as behaviour designed to dominate a partner, usually through fear, threats or emotional blackmail.

The bill also aims to offer greater access to the courts for victims.

Welcoming the vote this evening, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan labelled the bill "one of the most important pieces of legislation before the Oireachtas this year."

"We all know that domestic violence can have devastating physical, emotional, mental and financial consequences for victims, as well as for society as a whole," he said.

"For too long domestic violence has been seen primarily as physical abuse.

"The new offence of coercive control sends a clear consistent message that non-violent control in an intimate relationship is criminal and well be treated as such," the minister added.

He noted that psychological abuse can be as harmful to victims as violence because "it is an abuse of the unique trust associated with an intimate relationship."

He expressed his hope that the legislation will help victims understand that that the behaviour they are suffering is wrong and encourage them to come forward.

The bill will go back to the Seanad for before the President signs it into law.