Domestic abuse doesn’t have to mean violence: a boyfriend has just been jailed for controlling behaviour

Man who forced his girlfriend to eat only tuna and beetroot and endure hours of exercise to look like a Brazilian model is jailed under new coercive control laws

Gemma Doherty’s boyfriend Mohammed Anwaar loved Brazilian model Gracyanne Barbosa and wanted his girlfriend to have a shape like Kim Kardashian. So he forced Gemma, 30, a mother of two, to eat nothing but tuna and beetroot, run for hours on the treadmill and do squats and sit ups. If she failed he would hit her. He also told her that he had paid men to watch her at her work to stop her flirting with male colleagues.

Anwaar, 27, has been jailed for two years and four months, having pleaded guilty to controlling or coercive behaviour and nine charges of assault and damage. His conviction is one of the first under a new law, introduced in 2015, designed to show that behaviour does not have to be violent to count as domestic abuse.

Coercive control is ‘the most common context in which [women] are abused, it is also the most dangerous,’ according to Evan Stark, an expert quoted by the Home Office.

Coercive control and controlling behaviour include: isolating a person from their friends and family; monitoring them via social media; taking control of their friends, their clothes and their daily routine – for example meals and bedtime; repeatedly telling them they are worthless; and financial abuse.

If you have been affected by domestic abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247

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