English Court Says Yelling is Domestic Violence

Is there anyone among us who has not been guilty of shouting or yelling at one’s spouse in a moment of high intensity? If you say you have not, I don’t believe you.

For those of us who on those rare occasions have sounded off rather loudly, best keep away from England. This week England’s highest court held that raising your voice to your spouse qualifies as domestic violence.

This is truly a case of “words mean what I say they mean” and the “I” is Baroness Hale of Richmond, who was the first woman appointed to the House of Lords in 2004 and in 2009 took her place on England’s new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. She is the most senior female judge in Britain.

The case involved 35 year-old Mirhet Yemshaw who lived in government subsidized housing with her husband and children. She brought an action against the housing authority for refusing to provide her with her own apartment after she left the home she shared with her husband because of domestic violence.

Ms. Yemshaw had not been threatened by her spouse, neither had she ever been physically assaulted; no pushing, shoving, or slapping. Nothing.

She said that her spouse had yelled at her in front of the children and did not provide her with a sufficient allowance to run the household. She also said that she was afraid she would lose custody of her children.

Rather than viewing this as a preemptive strike in an obvious matrimonial dispute, Lady Hale declared that the definition of domestic violence must change to include a range of abusive behaviors.

She said it was not up to the government or other officials to decide what constituted domestic violence, rather it was within the purview of the courts alone to determine changes in the meaning of Parliament’s words.

Lady Hale remarked that while the dictionary defined “violence” as a physical attack it could also include “extreme fervor, passion or fury.”

The ramifications of this ruling will be draconian in terms of the interpretation of a variety of criminal and family law statutes. I wonder if Lady Hale thought about that before she decided she knew better than everyone else.

Yemshaw’s husband says all of this started because his wife was unhappy.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

6 thoughts on “English Court Says Yelling is Domestic Violence

  1. This is an interesting concept to think about. I’d say that some yelling can be violent, or could constitute emotional abuse (which could be as damaging almost as physical abuse). However, it would be hard to prove!

  2. Dear Law Diva,
    Where have you been? I thought you said you were a lawyer? For the last decade the legal definition of “assault” had been at least as perverted as the recent English “Law Lords”ruling you cite here.

    All a woman has to say to Canadian “domestic violence” courts is that her spouse “made her afraid” to get him convicted of “Assault” under the Criminal Code of Canada.

    This is the work of your lesbian lawyer “friends”. Are you actually purporting here to be unaware of the state of legal practice in Canada?

    1. Doug While I agree with you that the flimsiest story will result in charges or a peace bond, show me a case in Canada where “yelling” was the foundation for a conviction for assault. I agree the “you made me afraid” line will support a charge of threatening. Cheers! Lawdiva

  3. Your blog finds, and comments, are so great. Thank you.
    I’m wondering if this case would have an impact on the issue of damage awards in Canada, where
    the pain and suffering is not as a result of physical harm, but this kind of thing…

  4. It would be super helpful if you linked to the Court decision you are referring to. I’ve seen some yelling in my family that definitely rose to the level of spousal abuse.

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