The Criminalisation of Coercive Control
The murder of Brisbane mother Hannah Clarke and her three children has been a beacon for the issue of coercive control. For a long time, Hannah Clarke was unaware that she was in an emotionally and financially abusive relationship because she associated domestic violence with physical violence (Stuff 2020). After leaving her husband Rowan Baxter, which is cited by many domestic violence advocates as the most dangerous time for intimate partner homicides, he doused her and her children with petrol and set them alight. Baxter then killed himself at the scene. The parents of Hannah Clarke have directed their grief into advocating for the criminalisation of coercive control.
Coercive control is on overarching term which refers to a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviours including physical, sexual, psychological, financial, and emotional abuse, as well as intimidation (AWAVA 2021). Coercive control refers to a pattern of behaviours used by an abuser to control their partner and create an uneven power dynamic. A single act of coercive control may appear trivial, but a course of conduct forms a pattern of abuse (AWAVA 2021). Coercive control is a high predictor of intimate partner homicide.
The criminalisation of coercive control is gaining traction in NSW. The NSW Parliament has a current proposal to outlaw coercive control in intimate partner relationships (NSW Government 2022). The draft bill is currently open to the public for comment (September 2022). According to the fact sheet the aim of the bill is to criminalise coercive control, and to introduce a definition of ‘domestic abuse’ into the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. However, a bill does not become law until is passes through both houses of Parliament and is assented. The Queensland Government have also committed to criminalising coercive control.
If you, or someone you know, have any legal matters reguarding relationship behaviour (specifically in the context of any criminal charges against you or someone you know) do not hesitate to contact Rep-Revive Criminal & Employment Lawyers® for a free initial consultation on (02) 9198 1997 or visit www.rpr5.sydney for further information. When times are tough we are always in your corner!
Australian Woman Against Violence Alliance, Criminalisation of Coercive Control Issue Paper (2021) available at FINAL_-2021_-AWAVA-Issues-Paper-Criminalisation-of-Coercive-Control.pdf
NSW Government, Coercive Control Exposure Draft Bill (2022) available at Coercive control exposure draft Bill | NSW Government
Stuff, Brisbane Car Fire: Hannah Clarke Didn’t Think She was a Domestic Violence Victim Friend Says (2020) available at Brisbane car fire: Hannah Clarke didn't think she was a domestic violence victim, friend says | Stuff.co.nz