Ireland criminalizes emotional abuse with new domestic violence law

The new Irish domestic violence law recognizes "coercive control" as a criminal offense.

(CNN)Psychological and emotional abuse in intimate relationships is now a crime in Ireland.

The Domestic Violence Act 2018 went into effect on Tuesday and provides new protections for victims of "coercive control," a type of emotional and psychological abuse aimed at stripping a person of their self-worth and agency.
Although psychological and emotional abuse -- including controlling behavior, isolation, and threats of violence -- can be more difficult to recognize than physical violence, it can be just as damaging, experts say.
    Ireland's Minister of Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said in a statement Wednesday that the new law "recognizes that the effect of non-violent control in an intimate relationship can be as harmful to victims as physical abuse because it is an abuse of the unique trust associated with an intimate relationship."
    "This new provision sends a message that society will no longer tolerate the appalling breach of trust committed by one partner against the other in an intimate context," he added.
    In a 2014 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) pan-European survey on violence against women, almost a third of Irish women (31%) said they had experienced psychological abuse by a partner. A further 23% of respondents said they had experienced controlling behavior, 24% said they had experienced abusive behavior, and 12% said they had experienced stalking (including online stalking).