Coercive Control legislation proposed at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo by F11 Photo / Deposit Photos

Canada’s Coercive Control Bill Advances to Senate

Coercive Control, News By Jun 13, 2024

Canada’s coercive control  bill is on its way to the Senate after successfully passing its third reading in the House of Commons and receiving unanimous support. The Private Member’s Bill, introduced by New Democratic Party MP Laurel Collins, aims to amend the Criminal Code to address a pervasive form of abuse that experts identify as a key tactic used by abusers to isolate and intimidate victims of intimate partner violence.

Defining Coercive Control in Canada

Bill C-332: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Coercive Control of Intimate Partner) defines coercive control as a pattern of the following acts:

  • Threats, attempts, and use of violence against an intimate partner, their child(ren), family members, loved ones, or animals.
  • Coercion or attempts to coerce the intimate partner to engage in unwanted sexual activity.
  • Controlling, attempting to control or monitoring the intimate partner’s actions, movements or social interactions, including by a means of telecommunication
  • Controlling or attempting to control the manner in which the intimate partner cares for any person under the age of 18 or any animal.
  • Controlling or attempting to control any matter related to the intimate partner’s employment or education.
  • Controlling or attempting to control the intimate partner’s finances or other property or monitoring their finances.
  • Controlling or attempting to control the intimate partner’s expression of gender, physical appearance, manner of dress, diet, taking of medication or access to health services or to medication,
  • Controlling or attempting to control the intimate partner’s expression of their thoughts, their opinions, their religious, spiritual or other beliefs, or their culture, including the intimate partner’s use of their language or their access to their linguistic, religious, spiritual or cultural community.
  • Threats of self-harm or dying by suicide.

Such behaviors are designed to induce feelings of fear, shame, and guilt in the victim , making it difficult for them to leave the abusive relationship.

Survivor Stories Catalyze Legislative Action

When Collins introducing the bill last fall, they shared a deeply personal account of their sibling’s experience with coercive control. They recounted how their sibling’s experiences of crushing financial abuse and deprivation of freedom at the hands of their former intimate partner, highlighting the insidious nature of this type of abuse.

Collins took to the floor in the House of Commons, where she made the case for the proposed legislation.

“All members from all parties have come together to support my Private Members Bill. But really to support survivors or intimate partner violence, and I want to extend my gratitude. I hope that we can all think of this bill as an example of the great things we can accomplish when we reach across the aisle and collaborate. When we work together to put aside political differences, focusing on the needs of our constituents, we can change their lives for the better.”

Collins addressed the grim reality of the dangers people targeted for coercive control are up against, ranging from social- and financial ruin to femicide.

In Canada, a woman is killed by an intimate partner every six days. Let that sink in. Every six days we lose a woman to intimate partner violence. And it disproportionately impacts indigenous women. We know that coercive control is one of the most common precursors to femicide. Even when there have been no other instances of physical violence.”

Additionally, Collins highlighted the many stories survivors shared about their experiences of coercive control and the urgent need for legal safeguards against this most extreme form of human rights abuse.

“I’ve spoken in the past about how coercive control has impacted my family, but I’ve also heard from hundreds of people across Canada, who have written to me, met with me, spoken to me about how coercive control has impacted them, either directly of through loved ones. Each person who shared their story told me how grateful they are that this piece of legislation exists and they hope that no one will ever have to go through what they experienced. While each story is unique, the pain is very similar. The pervasiveness of coercive control is all encompassing and the trauma is deeply rooted.”

Summary

The unanimous passage of the bill in Canada’s House of Commons reflects the increasing coercive control awareness among lawmakers. By criminalizing coercive control, the bill seeks to provide victims with the legal recourse to protect themselves and break free from abusive relationships.

The passage of this bill marks a significant step forward in the fight against intimate partner violence. By addressing its root cause, the legislation aims to offer victims greater protection and support. As the Bill C-332 moves through the legislative process, it is buoyed with it the stories of countless survivors whose hope of a life free from fear lies the legal recognition of coercive control.

Sources: Welland Tribune, Bill C-332: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Coercive Control of Intimate Partner).

Photo: F11 Photo / Deposit Photos.

Author

Manya Wakefield is a recovery coach specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and coercive trauma. Her expertise has been featured in publications such as Newsweek, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Huffington Post. In 2019, she launched the social impact platform Narcissistic Abuse Rehab, building a global audience through human rights advocacy. The same year, she published the book ‘Are You In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship,’ which is used in domestic violence recovery groups around the world. In 2020, Manya developed The Coercive Control Legislation Global Database. She is also the host of The Narcissistic Abuse Rehab Podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon.