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Coercive Control

Coercive Control

From the New York Times:

The Congresswoman Cori Bush and the musician FKA twigs describe how manipulative, isolating conduct known as “coercive control” helped trap them in abusive relationships. Lawmakers are starting to listen.

Days into her freshman term as a Democratic Congresswoman from Missouri, Ms. Bush, 44, emerged as a public force; as her first action, she introduced legislation to investigate and expel members of Congress who voted to overturn the election and supported the riot in the Capitol.

But even before she was sworn in, she shared her experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, in hopes of reframing the issue. “I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable about it,” she said in an interview last month, “because I feel like if we don’t normalize the conversation — people are still being hurt, especially right now, with Covid, and the lockdown,” when calls to support networks are spiking.

Ms. Bush’s candor comes as some state lawmakers, working with researchers, have begun to reshape the law to acknowledge that the controlling and isolating behaviors she cites, often referred to as “coercive control,” are not only steppingstones to violence, but can be criminally abusive in their own right. Activists hope that by broadening the definition of abuse, they can help victims reclaim their autonomy, and catch perpetrators before cases spiral toward hospitalization — or worse.

In September, California passed a law that allows coercive control behaviors, such as isolating partners, to be introduced as evidence of domestic violence in family court. That month, Hawaii became the first state to enact anti-coercive control legislation. The New York and Connecticut legislatures introduced similar laws.

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