With the support and leadership of Senator Kevin Parker, The Campaign To End Coercive Control In New York State has introduced the first Coercive Control bill in the USA — Bill Number S5306.
WHAT IS COERCIVE CONTROL
According to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence:
“Domestic violence comprises a range of behaviors beyond physical and emotional abuse. Abusers often use violence, intimidation, degradation and isolation to deprive victims of their rights to physical security, dignity and respect. Evan Stark has been encouraging the use of “coercive control” to describe a course of oppressive behavior grounded in gender-based privilege. While all forms of abuse are about power and control, coercive control is a strategic form of ongoing oppression and terrorism that invades all arenas of women’s activity by limiting access to money and other basic resources. In addition, few elements of coercive control are currently considered criminal, or are only crimes when committed against strangers, which further complicates this issue within the context of domestic violence.”
We are campaigning for domestic violence laws to be strengthened and modernized in New York and throughout the country to reflect the reality of domestic abuse in all its guises and better protect women and girls. We are a group of survivors, campaigners, activists and experts. We know this will save lives and money.
Prior to the pioneering coercive control law in England and Wales, only 3 out of every 100 men reported for domestic violence were convicted and almost none were jailed (Aronson Fontes and Stark 2017). Abusers reported for 50 or more offences were no more likely to be punished than those who committed a single offence (Aronson Fontes and Stark 2017). The same injustices occur in the USA with the same victims and perpetrators repeatedly reporting to Police and other front-line professionals. Many blame the victims for “staying” rather than focusing on the abuser and their abusive behaviour. Most wait for an assault with clear evidence before acting and the police and court system continue to trivialise and minimise the abuse.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
Despite all the resources allocated to domestic violence, most professionals do not understand coercive control and as a consequence US victims and their children remain unsafe and at risk because their abusive partners are not held accountable.
THE FACTS AND EVIDENCE
Between 2000-2006, 3200 American soldiers were killed in combat. During that same period, more than three times as many women died at the hands of their husbands and boyfriends (Rachel Louise Snyder 2019)
- One woman is murdered every 16 hours in the US by a current or former partner.
- Some of the most dangerous cases happen when domestic violence, stalking and coercive control co-occur.
- These ‘murders in slow motion’ are preventable. Early identification and intervention is vital to saving lives and saving money.
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE FOR A WOMAN AND CHILDREN IS THE HOME.
Currently, domestic violence laws focus on and respond to individual incidents according to the level of physical harm. Consequently, coercive control, where frequent low-level violence is accompanied by the other tactics, has no legal standing. Few elements of coercive control are currently considered criminal, or are only crimes when committed against strangers.
WAKE UP CALL: COERCIVE CONTROL SIGNIFICANTLY CORRELATES WITH MURDER
The domestic homicide rate has doubled in New York. Most of these cases, if not all, are coercive control cases. Many women do not report as they know there is little point and when they do 95% of the reported cases have no injury, and so they are treated as low level (Stark 2017). A prosecution or conviction are rare, and plea bargaining commonplace.
We must look beyond the bruises. Domestic violence is not just about assault. The cumulative effect of 1000 cuts is devastating. Many women do not report until the behaviour has escalated and there may be injuries. For many this is too late.
Criminalizing these forms of intimate partner violence would send a powerful signal and give victims confidence to come forward earlier, leading to early intervention and prevention.
To support this historic bill that will save lives, please contact your State Senator and tell them to join Senator Parker as a co-sponsor. Find your State Senator contact information here.