What is coercive control?
On average in Australia one woman each week is killed by her current or former partner. It’s a sobering statistic and behind many or all of these cases lies destructive behaviour known as coercive control.>
Coercive control is a pattern of psychologically manipulative behaviour that perpetrators use to gain control and power over their intimate partner.
Acts of coercive control include, but are not limited to:
- Monitoring or tracking a person’s whereabouts, with or without their knowledge
- Controlling a person’s finances
- Restricting access to money
- Insulting a person continually to undermine their self-esteem
- Purposefully isolating a person from their family or friends
- Controlling what a person wears or says
- Monitoring a person’s communication, with others with or without their knowledge
At the beginning of a relationship, some of this behaviour may be interpreted by the victim as being “caring” or “flattering”.
Victims are put on a pedestal and made to feel wanted and loved. But soon enough demands such as “where are you” or “who are you with” spiral out of control, and the victim begins to doubt their self-worth, confidence, sanity and autonomy.
It seems that one minute the person is feeling loved and protected, the next, they’re not allowed to leave the house without permission.
Coercive control is not currently identified as a criminal behaviour in itself.
However the Queensland State Government has announced plans to set up an independent task force to consult on potential coercive control legislation.
Queensland’s first female Court of Appeal President and former judge, the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC, will lead the task force to consult and advise on how to legislate against coercive control as a form of domestic and family violence.
Queensland Law Society president, Elizabeth Shearer, has said the Society supports evidence-based policy and legislation.
“We acknowledge the devastating impact violence against women has on individuals and communities in Australia,” she said.
“Governments have a responsibility to continue to examine and implement measures aimed at addressing family, domestic and sexual violence and its consequences.
“In the case of coercive control, consideration needs to be given to the development and implementation of measures aimed at driving change in the structures, norms and practices that lead to gender inequality and violence against women, as well as specialist training for police and other first responders.”
Until such time as the legislation changes, what can you do if you are a victim of coercive control or any other form of domestic violence?
Victims of domestic violence can apply for a protection order on their own behalf. Alternatively, they can have a solicitor apply for them, or the police may file on behalf of a victim, especially if they have been called to the scene of a dispute.
Various conditions of an order can be included to prohibit the controlling behaviour and if those conditions are not complied with, the police can charge the perpetrator with a breach of the domestic violence order.
Who can I call?
If you are in immediate danger, call the police on: 000
Women needing support or help with finding safe accommodation, call DV Connect Womensline on: 1800 811 811
For men looking for counselling, call DV Connect Mensline on: 1800 600 636
Anyone needing advice, counselling and support can call 1800 RESPECT on: 1800 737 732
If you need legal advice on separation, divorce, court orders or any issues related to domestic and family violence, please call Michael Lynch Family Laywers on: (07) 3221 4300 or email our office: [email protected]
Our experienced team of family law experts are here to help you through this time.