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166 Solic. J. 58 (2023)
Love-Bombing Recognised as a Sign of Abuse

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Love-bombing recognised as a sign of abuse

                        explains   how   family  lawyers  can  address   love-bombing in abusive relationships

The recent inclusion  of love-bombing
     in the Crown Prosecution Service
     (CPS) guidance regarding the
prosecution of abusive partners for
controlling and coercive behaviour has shed
light on this tactic used by perpetrators
to confuse survivors and gain control.
  Coercive and controlling behaviour,
which became an offence in December 2015,
encompasses actions intended to intimidate,
restrict and control a partner's behaviour.
These can include isolating a person from
friends and family, depriving them of basic
needs, taking control of their daily lives,
restricting access to technology, putting
them down  repeatedly, enforcing rules to
humiliate and degrade and gaslighting.
  These behaviours are often subtle and
difficult to identify. Survivors gradually
become  isolated from support networks,
manipulated, and lose the confidence and
ability to leave. Coercive and controlling
behaviour is often intertwined with other
forms of domestic abuse, such as physical
violence, sexual violence, emotional,
economic and technology-facilitated abuse.

Love-bombing, a red-flag of abuse in the
early stages of a relationship, involves
manipulating a partner through excessive
attention and affection. It can manifest in
various ways, including constant compliments,
gifts, mirroring the partner's preferences,
continuous communication, wanting to
spend all their time together, offering help,
displaying jealousy, expressing a desire for
commitment  and a future, and sharing intense
feelings of connection and love. Initially,
the attention feels positive, but it gradually
becomes  overwhelming and suffocating due
to the manipulative nature of the behaviour.
  Love-bombing  is often used early in the
relationship to pressure the survivor into
committing quickly, thereby increasing the
perpetrator's control. This tactic breaks down
emotional barriers and fosters dependence,
as the perpetrator assumes control over
various aspects of the survivor's life under
the pretence of assisting them. Love-bombing
may continue throughout the relationship, even
after incidents of abuse, to confuse the survivor
and discourage them from seeking help.

The updated CPS guidance is a positive
development, as it highlights the diverse
and subtle ways in which perpetrators exert
control. This awareness is crucial since such
behaviours can be challenging to detect and
recognise for survivors. Many clients have
only realised the extent of the abuse they
endured after ending the relationship.
  The guidance also aids family lawyers in
protecting survivors by providing a clearer
legal framework for obtaining protective
orders from the family court and considering
the perpetrator's conduct in a broader context,
such as child arrangements or financial
matters during a divorce settlement.
  The updated guidance will also enhance
prosecutors' understanding of the various
manipulative tactics employed by perpetrators,
potentially allowing more survivors to seek
justice. It is essential for law enforcement and
the courts to demonstrate that this behaviour
is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

The impact of stalking, controlling,
and coercive behaviour should not be
underestimated, as it leaves survivors
feeling powerless, isolated, vulnerable and
consumed  by the control exerted upon them.
  Professionals involved in safeguarding,
including family lawyers and the police,
need to comprehend the broader context
and overall behaviour of perpetrators,
particularly when it comes to recognising
subtle signs like love-bombing.
  Proving or establishing coercive control
can be more challenging than providing
evidence of physical injuries or violent
actions. While expanding the legal framework
provides clearer guidance for professionals
to support survivors and their families,
there is still much more work to be done.

  If you, or someone you know, are struggling
  with domestic abuse, you can access free and
  confidential support from Refuge's 24-hour
  National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808
  2000 247 and digital support via live chat
  Monday-Friday  3-10pm at nationaldahelpline.
  org.uk. The free and confidential National
  Stalking Helpline can be reached on 0808 802
  0300. Or visit suzylamplugh.org for help.

58 / luly 2023 / solicitorsiournal.como

Samantha Farndale is a
partner at Stowe Family Law

Firms  could  be
subject  to regulatory
investigation  and
enforcement by the
Equality  and  Human
Rights  Commission
in addition  to facing
regulatory  action


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