A new website on coercive control has been launched by the NSW Government to help raise awareness and educate the public about this abuse, which is a known precursor to domestic violence deaths.
Attorney General Michael Daley said the website provides information to broaden the public’s understanding of coercive control in current or former intimate partner relationships.
It provides accurate descriptions and examples of coercive control and includes information about what the legislative reforms mean, who they apply to, how to recognise patterns in behaviour that could lead to this form of abuse and where and how to seek help.
“The Domestic Violence Death Review Team found that about 97 per cent of intimate partner domestic violence homicides in NSW between 2000 and 2018 were preceded by coercive control where the perpetrator used emotional and psychological abuse towards the victim,” Attorney General Daley said.
“And on average, one woman is killed in Australia every 10 days by an intimate partner.
“It is for this reason that the NSW Parliament passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Coercive Control) Act 2022 to criminalise coercive control in current and former intimate partner relationships.”
These new laws will come into effect in 2024 and, if found guilty, perpetrators can face up to a maximum of seven years in prison.
Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison said there is very poor understanding of what coercive control is in the community.
“Independent research commissioned by the Department of Communities and Justice found that while 2 in 5 people claimed to know what coercive control means, only 1 in 5 could correctly identify at least one aspect of coercive control,” Minister Harrison said.
“Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour used against an intimate partner that impedes on their freedom and liberty, and can include controlling the way they dress, who they communicate with and even their access to finances.
“It is behaviour designed to exercise domination and control over another, and can be hard to spot because it can be deeply contextual.
“Coercive control laws will have a profound impact on the way that our justice system assesses and manages domestic violence cases come 2024, and the government is now making sure people recognise the signs and know what it is.”
Women’s Community Shelters CEO Annabelle Daniel OAM said the website is critical to providing people with accurate information so they can spot the signs of coercive control in their own or others’ relationships.
“While some coercive and controlling behaviours can seem minor on their own, when they’re repeated or continuous, they can cause serious harm to the victim, affecting a person’s sense of safety and independence, and making them feel trapped, powerless and alone,” Ms Daniel said.
“A history of coercive and controlling behaviours in a relationship is also a known precursor for intimate partner homicide. So, if anyone is worried about coercive control in their own, or someone else’s relationship, please know, there is help.”
If you are experiencing or know of someone who is experiencing domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
To learn more, visit the coercive control website here: nsw.gov.au/coercive-control