Domestic violence isn’t about just physical violence – and state laws are beginning to recognize that

Domestic violence isn’t about just physical violence – and state laws are beginning to recognize that | Lisa Aronson Fontes

Three or more U.S. women are murdered every day by their current or former intimate partner

That may in part be due to a failure of state laws to capture the full range of behavior that constitutes domestic abuse. The law continues to treat intimate partner violence like a bar fight – considering only what happened in a given incident and not all the prior abuse history, such as intimidation and entrapment. 

Research shows, however, that domestic abuse is not about arguments, short tempers and violent tendencies. It’s about domination and control.

Men who kill their female partners usually dominate them first – sometimes without physical violence. Indeed, for 28% to 33% of victims, the homicide or attempted homicide was the first act of physical violence in the relationship.

Most state laws intended to protect people from violent partners and ex-partners do not account for this kind of behavior, which violence experts now call “coercive control.” Yet coercive control is nearly always at the core of what is usually called “domestic abuse” or “intimate partner violence.” 

Some states are stepping up to incorporate coercive and controlling behavior, not just episodes of violence, into laws that protect victims. These laws make clear: Intimate partner abuse isn’t about just physical violence.

Behind the violence

Typical coercive control tactics include isolating, intimidating, stalking, micromanaging, sexual coercion and often – but not always – physical abuse. 

Abusers inflict these tactics on their partners over time in a variety of ways, ultimately reducing the victim’s ability to live as a free person. Survivors often say that the physical violence was not the worst part.

Forensic social worker Evan Stark’s landmark 2007 book, “Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life,” set the stage for an outpouring of research and legislation on coercive control. Stark changed the conversation from “Why doesn’t she leave?” to “How can anyone survive this intimate torture?” and “How can society protect these victims?” 

The concept has also entered popular culture through podcasts and television shows such as “Dirty John.”

I wrote the second book on coercive control, “Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship.” I serve as an expert witness in legal cases in which coercive control might be present, and I research related topics.

Advocates for victims of domestic abuse say that new state legislation on coercive control could substantially change the way domestic abuse is handled by police and the courts. New laws would lead to more prosecutions before the control evolves into physical violence, or even homicide, they say.

And addressing coercive control is important not simply because it will reduce intimate partner homicides; one person should not be able to deny another basic freedom simply because they are married or in a relationship.

Helena Phillibert, director of legal services at the Rockland County New York Center for Safety, said in an interview I conducted: “Legislation against coercive control is critical to broadening the range of abusive behaviors recognized in the law. The advantages to victims and survivors are numerous but most significantly, legislation that recognizes coercive control necessarily expands the understanding of domestic violence beyond physical abuse.” 

Since we know most mass killers are men who have also attacked family members, earlier intervention in domestic abuse may also reduce mass killings, making everyone safer.

States taking lead

In the past half-dozen years, new laws in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe have established “coercive and controlling behavior” as a distinct and serious criminal offense, with maximum sentences extending from five years in prison in England to 15 years in Scotland.

In the U.S., about a half-dozen states now incorporate elements of coercive control into their civil and criminal orders of protection. These are court-issued orders that require a person to stop harassing or abusing someone else, and may bar all contact. 

Another half-dozen new legislative proposals aim to establish and flag coercive control as an important factor in family court decisions on divorce, child custody and visitation.

California law SB-1141, which was passed in 2020, defines coercive control as a pattern of domestic violence that “unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty.” 

The law also recommends against awarding child custody to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence, unless the abuser can prove that he or she is not a risk to a child. 

State Sen. Alex Kasser based Connecticut’s proposed Bill 1091 on California’s but added additional examples of common coercive control tactics. 

Her bill includes “forced sex, sexual threats and threats to release sexualized images” as well as a section on vexatious litigation, which Kasser defines as “how abusers use the legal system to harass their victims, dragging them to court repeatedly to drain their resources and make them lose their jobs, homes, savings and sometimes their children.”

Kasser emphasizes that the Connecticut bill would also protect the children of an abused parent. The bill would establish the physical and emotional safety of the child as the first of 17 factors to be considered in custody decisions. The bill passed the Connecticut Judiciary Committee in April 2021 with bipartisan support and is awaiting further consideration and votes.

The New York State Senate’s proposed Bill 5650 would establish coercive control as a Class E felony, meaning that a person convicted of coercive control could serve up to four years in jail for the crime. This is more in line with the laws in the U.K. and some other European countries. 

While it is still too early to know whether coercive-control laws will predominate in U.S. civil or criminal law, it seems pretty clear that times are changing. I believe victims of coercive-control partner abuse will soon have access to legal protections in many more states across the country. 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Conversation and is republished here under Creative Common License.


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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Jennifer’s Law Could Bring Coercive Control Legislation to Connecticut

Jennifer's Law | Coercive Control | Domestic Abuse

Connecticut State Senator Alex Kasser is sponsoring Jennifer’s Law in honor of Jennifer Dulos in the 2021 Legislative session. The new bill will widen the definition of domestic abuse to include coercive control.

“When women are the victims of abuse, they seek safety for themselves and their children. Often that means staying with the abuser because the danger of leaving is too great,” Sen. Kasser said in a statement about the bill, “But when victims do summon the courage to leave, we have a responsibility to believe and protect them. Too many women have lost their lives just trying to get free. And too many children have become collateral damage in this struggle. It’s time for us to shine a light on DV in all its forms and protect those who need protecting. Women often feel shame and fear when they’re with their abuser and when they leave they are re-traumatized by a society that doesn’t believe them. DV is a public health crisis that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. And oftentimes the signs are invisible.”

What is Coercive Control?

Coercive control is a pattern of acts used by one person to secure emotional, psychological, and financial dominance over another person. It is a distinct form of psycho-emotional abuse that is used as a tool to frighten the recipient into submission. Coercive control starts with occasional incidents of strategic aggression that escalate over time to full-scale campaigns of intimate terrorism.

Coercive control was conceptualized by Evan Stark, Ph.D., MSW, Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University in his book Coercive Control (2007). Perpetrators of coercive control often harm children as part of a wider campaign to isolate the primary recipient of the abuse.

Signs of Coercive Control

GaslightingThe perpetrator deliberately distorts the victim-survivors’ reality.
IsolationThe perpetrator isolates the victim-survivor from family and friends. 
Control of Daily LifeThe perpetrator dictates where the victim-survivor can go, see, wear, and eat.
Monitoring timeThe perpetrator oversees where the victim-survivor is, where they are going, and what they are doing at all times
Put-DownsThe perpetrator may repeatedly tell the victim-survivor that they are worthless or useless, they may publically humiliate the victim-survivor by calling them degrading names or by criticizing their appearance, intelligence, etc.
Monitoring CommunicationThe perpetrator may use spyware to track the victim-survivors’ digital communication.
Rules and Regulations The perpetrator creates a set of ever changing rules which they enforce by humiliating, degrading, or dehumanizing the victim-survivor.
ThreatsThe perpetrator may threaten to hurt or kill the victim-survivor, their child, family members, friends, or pets; they may threaten to take away their child; they may threaten to reveal private information such as intimate photos or revelations about your sexuality.
Deprivation of Basic NeedsThe perpetrator restricts the victim-survivors’ access to healthcare and food.
Obstruction of EmploymentThe perpetrator may stop the victim-survivor from obtaining employment, going to work, and earning their own money.
Financial AbuseThe perpetrator takes control of the victim-survivors’ finances, making sure they have little access to money so that the victim-survivor is dependent on them.
Criminal DamageThe perpetrator may damage or destroy the victim-survivors’ personal property.
Assault or RapeThe perpetrator may physically abuse, sexually assault, or rape the victim-survivor.

How Will Jennifer’s Law Help?

Jennifer’s Law will expand and modernize the definition of domestic violence to include Coercive Control in Connecticut state law.

  • The bill will also require coercive control training by professionals with firsthand experience working with domestic abuse survivors.
  • It also seeks to give precedence to child safety when determining custody in family court by making domestic violence assessments a priority.
  • It seeks to furnish victim-survivors seeking a protective order from the Court with legal support.
  • The bill would require judges to recognize victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and provide them with adequate safety and protection.

Jennifer’s Law and Interpersonal Femicide in Connecticut

Jennifer’s Law was created in honor of  Jennifer Dulos, a mother from New Canaan, Connecticut, who is missing and believed to have been murdered by her husband while appealing for protection for herself and her children in family court.

According to Connecticut Protective Moms interpersonal femicide sees approximately 28 cases of femicide and filicide committed every year by perpetrators of coercive control.

Some coercive control murders in Connecticut over the last few years include:

So far, two states in the US have expanded the definition of domestic violence to include coercive control: Hawaii and California. Find out more about which states have coercive control legislation.

References

Photo by Jackson David.


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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FKA Twigs Opens Up To Gayle King on CBS This Morning

FKA twigs interview with Gayle King | CBS This Morning

FKA twigs opened up to journalist Gayle King on CBS This Morning about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of actor Shia LaBoeuf. In her first television interview since taking legal action against him in December 2020, the Grammy nominee also took the opportunity to name and define some of the common behaviors of perpetrators of domestic abuse.

With California’s new coercive control legislation in force as of January 1, 2021, twigs’ lawsuit against LaBoeuf may set an important new precedent as California is the second state in the USA to criminalize coercive control.

In the claim she filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, twigs (born Tahliah Debrett Barnett) describes LaBeouf as “a danger to women,” who kept her “in a constant state of fear.”

She describes experiencing an ongoing pattern of abuse in her relationship with LaBoeuf that included verbal, emotional, physical abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically:

  • Non-fatal strangulation
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual battery, and
  • Infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

On February 12, 2021 LaBoeuf’s legal team issued a statement that the actor denies “generally and specifically each and every allegation.”

His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

FKA twigs

FKA twigs is now speaking out in the hope of helping others spot the signs of domestic abuse in intimate relationships and, most importantly, for survivors to know that they are not alone.

Knowledge is Power

Once twigs understood that the harms that were allegedly inflicted on her by LaBoeuf were intentional, she reached out to Sistah Space, a London based service specialized in supporting abuse survivors of African heritage.

She started to learn about the manipulation tactics used by perpetrators of coercive control and developed an awareness about the attitudes that drive these destructive behaviors.

Empowered with new knowledge, twigs was able to escape and begin the healing process.

She shared that, in retrospect, the relationship had red flags from the very start. She described some of them to Gayle King in the interview.

Boundary violation disguised as romantic gestures

“In the beginning he would jump over the fence where I was staying and leave flowers outside my door and poems and books.” twigs told King, “And I thought it was very romantic, but that quickly changed. I understand now that that’s testing your boundaries. But it didn’t stop there, you know. His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

Love bombing and devaluation

She also described her experience of the idealization or love bombing phase of the cycle of abuse to King, as LaBoeuf “putting me on a pedestal, telling me that I was amazing, over the top displays of affection just to knock me off the pedestal, to tell me that I was worthless, to criticize me, to berate me, you know. Pick me apart.”

Learn more about love bombing in our interview with Harvard trained psychotherapist Madelaine Claire Weiss.

Gaslighting

“Abusers use gaslighting,” said twigs, wringing her small hands and taking a deep breath before she continued, “Which is where somebody minimizes your experience. It’s, like, altering your narrative and not listening to you, and denying your experience.”

Battery

“Eventually, it did become physical,” she said softly, dropping her gaze for a instant before lifting her eyes to meet King’s stare, before bravely giving a detailed account of how her relationship with LaBoeuf spiraled into violence.

Summary

There are many important lessons to be learned from FKA twigs about domestic abuse that may dispel the manifold myths that form the loopholes that help perpetrators evade justice. The reality is that because of its systemic nature, domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of financial status, fame, education, or social standing.

Watch Gayle King’s full interview with FKA twigs below.

Watch Gayle King’s interview with FKA twigs


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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FKA Twigs’ Coercive Control Allegations Denied by Shia LaBeouf

FKA Twigs Coercive Control

FKA Twigs’ describes her former partner Shia LaBeouf as a “danger to women” in the claim filed by her legal team in December 2020. In it, she accuses him of coercive and controlling behavior, including non-fatal strangulation, sexual assault, and battery, and infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

According to her claim, “LaBeouf kept [Twigs] in a constant state of fear.”

It is a landmark case since California’s new coercive control legislation came into force on January 1, 2021. Last October, California became the second state in the USA to criminalize coercive control.

Shia LaBeouf denies all of FKA Twigs allegations

In their response to the Los Angeles Superior Court, LaBeouf’s lawyers deny “generally and specifically each and every allegation.”

They argue that LaBeouf did not cause harm to Twigs (real name Tahliah Barnett) and requested that the sexual battery allegations be dismissed because “none of the acts alleged were based on sex and/or the conduct was not sexual.”

His team also says that LaBeouf’s “alleged conduct was reasonably necessary for his self-defense and/or safety.” His lawyers are also demanding that the case be dropped and for LaBeouf to be compensated for his legal expenses.

LaBeouf blames alcoholism and PTSD 

In a previous response to FKA Twigs’ allegations, LaBeouf told the New York Times:

“Although many of these allegations are not true, I am not in the position to defend any of my actions. I owe these women the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done. As someone in recovery, I have to face almost daily reminders of things I did say and do when I was drinking. I can’t rewrite history, I can only accept it and work to be better in the future. I write this as a sober member of a twelve-step program and in therapy for my many failings. I am not cured of my PTSD and alcoholism, but I am committed to doing what I need to do to recover, and I will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way.”

The actor is currently enrolled in an in-patient rehabilitation program. 

Scared, intimidated, controlled

Barnett met LaBeouf when she co-starred in the 2019 drama Honey Boy, a semi-autobiographical film about his childhood and his complicated relationship with his father.

She told journalist Louis Theroux that LaBeouf made her feel, “scared and intimidated and controlled.

References


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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Ireland’s First Coercive Control Conviction

Ireland's first coercive control conviction

Ireland’s first coercive control conviction highlights the importance of active bystanders. Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced 52-year-old Daniel Kane to 10.5 years in prison for coercive control, intimidation, and repeated assaults on his 43-year-old ex-partner. Kane’s campaign of domestic abuse took place over twenty months between 2018 and 2020.

Coercive control is a pattern of acts used by one person to secure emotional, psychological, and financial dominance over another person. It is the most extreme form of domestic abuse in existence. It was criminalized in Ireland in 2018. 

Neighbors feared for victim’s life

Kane is the first person in Ireland to receive a coercive control conviction after a trial. Judge Sheahan found that his aggression was unprovoked and motivated by his contempt for the 43-year-old victim.

His daily alcohol-fueled attacks on his partner caused neighbors to  fear for her life. Consequently, the police were called to the premises on five different occasions.

One  neighbor recalls, “There were genuinely times I thought he was going to kill her — that’s how bad it was. The level of violence and aggression heard inside those walls was very distressing at times, at all hours of the day and night.

“And it wasn’t just normal rows. It was frightening what you would hear, between his aggression and her screams.  I called the gardai and reported it to the ­management company, that’s all you can really do.”

The extent of Kane’s control over his partner terrified her to such an extent that she initially refused to make a complaint leaving the police unable to intervene.

In 2019, emergency medicine consultant Dr. Niamh Collins contacted investigators and expressed fear of  a “real and substantial” threat to her life. Armed with medical evidence, police were able to charge Kane.

From victim to survivor

After Kane was charged, the victim felt safe and found the courage to tell her story. Moreover, she was able to provide a detailed victim impact statement about the intimate terrorism he inflicted on her. Yet he continued to threaten her from behind bars. Between March and July 2020, he told her he would send nude videos of her to her family and friends and publish them online if she didn’t withdraw her statement.

In a display of remarkable courage, she went ahead with the case, testifying to the court that she “might be dead or in a vegetative state” if not for the intervention of the  doctor and police. She encouraged other victim-survivors to reach out to services like Woman’s Aid and the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support.

Orla O’Connor, the chief executive of the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Chief Superintendent Finbar Murphy at Blanchardstown Garda Station praised the survivor.

Chief Superintendent Murphy said, “This brave woman’s evidence in this investigation was vital.

“This case shows that any victim of domestic abuse shouldn’t suffer in silence — the abuser will convince them the [police] won’t listen but this is wrong.

“We will listen, we will investigate and the fault always lies with the aggressor. The Garda are skilled and experienced to deal with these types of investigations.”

“There are other tools at our disposal such as barring orders and we will continue to use those. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from — it’s against the law for anyone to behave in this appalling fashion. Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.”

For more information visit Ireland’s National Police and Security Service.

Cruelty of the most vicious nature

The court found that Kane’s coercive and controlling behavior began in earnest once he had isolated his partner from her family and friends. 

Judge Sheahan said Kane showed disdain for the victim with totally unprovoked and unpredictable acts of “cruelty of the most vicious nature”, including:

  • Financial abuse
  • Punching
  • Burning her foot with a cigarette
  • Cutting her face and neck with a pizza slicer
  • Stomping on and fracturing her arm
  • Head-butting when she was recovering from nasal surgery, and
  • Strangling her, leaving bruises on her throat

He subjected her to humiliation by forcing her to sit naked on a sofa while he ranted verbal abuse at her. Because Kane took all of the victim’s money she could not escape.

A contributing factor to this lengthy coercive control conviction was Judge Sheahan’s disconcerting observation of Kane’s refusal to accept responsibility for the pain he caused – behavior that is typical of dark triad personalities high in narcissistic and anti-social traits.

In addition to his coercive control conviction, Kane was charged with intending to pervert justice for trying to intimate his ex-partner into withdrawing her statement. He pled guilty.

Domestic abuse occurs in the context of coercive control

Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid, underscores the role coercive control plays in domestic abuse relationships. She describes the pattern of abuse as “tactics designed to isolate someone, erode their self-esteem and their sense of self-worth.”

Signs of coercive control include but are not limited to:

  • Isolation
  • Obstruction of employment
  • Monitoring time
  • Deprivation of basic needs
  • Monitoring communication
  • Taking control of daily life
  • Put-downs
  • Rules and regulations
  • Financial abuse
  • Threats
  • Criminal damage
  • Assault or rape

“It would be true to say that the vast majority of domestic violence and domestic abuse relationships occur in the context of coercive control.” said Ms. Benson, “Criminalizing coercive control is an incredibly important piece of legislation because that is how domestic violence and abuse manifests itself, in a pattern of behavior. To see that recognized and vindicated by a jury is excellent progress.”

A landmark coercive control case

Ireland’s first coercive control conviction demonstrates a departure  from the culture of silence in which domestic abuse thrives. It also shows  the vital role played by informed bystanders in preventing domestic abuse.

With the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Ireland is now  the only country in Europe with definitive coercive control legislation.

“This is a landmark case in Ireland and we hope that it will encourage many other women living with the terrorizing pattern of coercive control to come forward and to know that they will be believed and understood,” Catríona Gleeson, a spokeswoman for Safe Ireland said, “This case also sends a strong message to abusive men that if they think that it is acceptable to control, isolate, intimidate or degrade a woman, as this man did on a prolonged basis, they will have to stop this behavior or they will be convicted of a very serious crime.”

A gendered crime

While holding space for male survivors and recognizing that it happens to some men, it is important to understand that coercive control is a gendered crime. In other words, the extreme levels of violence and domestic homicide associated are more likely to happen to women.

Forensic social worker Dr. Evan Stark of Rutgers University who first coined the term, explains, “coercive control is a strategic course of oppressive behavior designed to secure and expand gender-based privilege by depriving women of their rights and liberties and establishing a regime of domination in personal life.”

He characterizes coercive control as:

  • Rational, instrumental behavior and not a loss of control
  • Ongoing rather than episodic, and
  • It is based on multiple tactics i.e. violence, intimidation, degradation, isolation, and control.

Global Incidence of Domestic Homicide

The systemic nature of coercive control is such that every year 50 000 women are killed by intimate partners or family members.

Men20%
Women80%

Source: UNDOC Homicide Statistics. Page 18.

Resources


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse. In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org. In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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FKA Twigs Sues Shia LaBeouf for Coercive Control

FKA twigs Sues Shia LaBeouf for Coercive Control

FKA Twigs and Karolyn Pho have filed an explosive joint action complaint against Shia LaBeouf at the Los Angeles Superior Court on December 10, 2020. The document gives a searing account of the catalog of atrocities that both women allegedly experienced at the hands of LaBeouf during their respective relationships with him, including:

  • Sexual battery.
  • Battery.
  • Assault.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Gross negligence.

FKA Twigs’ Allegations Against Shia LaBeouf

FKA Twigs met LaBeouf on the set of the film Honey Boy and dated him over a nine month period from 2018 to 2019.

In her complaint, the 32-year-old singer and multiple award-winner claims that 34-year-old LaBeouf groomed her with a charm offense before subjecting her to “brutal” and “degrading” treatment, including:

  • Non-fatal strangulation
  • Constant criticism
  • Symbolic violence
  • Forcing her to follow an ever-changing rule book, and
  • Deliberately infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

Karolyn Pho’s Allegations Against Shia LaBeouf

Karolyn Pho describes Shia LaBeouf’s behavior during their year long relationship as, “jealous, impulsive, and irrational.”

Pho alleges that on one occasion during her relationship with LaBeouf, he climbed on top of her and, “held her down by her arms, causing intense pain and leaving multiple bruises, and then head-butted her violently, causing her to bleed on the hotel bed.”

Pho dated him from 2010 to 2011.

Like Twigs, she alleges that LaBeouf is a perpetrator of abusive power and control.

California’s Coercive Control Legislation

Legislation prohibiting coercive control was signed into law in California by Governor Gavin Newsome. Senate Bill 1141 defines coercive control as:

  • “Disturbing the peace of the other party” [with] conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party, as specified.
  • Coercive control […] is a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty and includes, among other things, unreasonably isolating a victim from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.

According to the new bill, coercive control includes but is not limited to:

  • Isolating the other party from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.
  • Depriving the other party of basic necessities.
  • Controlling, regulating, or monitoring the other party’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.
  • Compelling the other party by force, threat of force, or intimidation, including threats based on actual or suspected immigration status, to engage in conduct from which the other party has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the other party has a right to engage.
  • This section does not limit any remedies available under this act or any other provision of law.

The new legislation comes into force in California on January 1, 2021.

Sia Claims She Was Also Abused By Shia LaBeouf

Australian singer Sia tweeted her support of FKA twigs and spoke of her own experience of emotional abuse by Shia LaBeouf:

“I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he is very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself – stay safe, stay away.”

I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he’s very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself- stay safe, stay away.

LaBeouf appeared in the 2015 music video for Sia’s song Elastic Heart, which featured on her album Girls Of Pop, alongside Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler. 

On December 13, 2020, FKA Twigs responded to Sia on Twitter: 

“I’m sorry @sia this reinforces why I had to publicly share my experience. We need to support each other <3”

Update: Sia later shared in an interview with the Sunday Times that LaBeouf was surreptitiously dating her and FKA Twigs at the same time.

“It turns out he was using the same lines on me and Twigsy, and eventually we found out because we ended up talking to one another. Both of us thought we were singly dating him. But that wasn’t the case. And he was still married.”

Sia had previously cast LaBeouf in the role of an alcoholic father in the video of her 2015 hit single Elastic Heart.

A History of Abusive Behavior

Shia LaBeouf has been accused of violent behavior in the past. He has been arrested several times for drunk and disorderly behavior, and most recently in September 2020 for theft.

In 2017, LaBeouf pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction after he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication in Georgia.

In 2015, he was involved in a dispute with his then-wife, Mia Goth, in Germany and reportedly told his friends, “I don’t want to touch a woman, I don’t want to hit a woman, but I’m getting pushed,” He also told a local, “If I’d have stayed there, I would have killed her.” He was no charged after this incident.

He has previously issued manifold apologies for his behavior, which he attributes to his battle with substance dependency.

Photo by Bobo Boom.

Resources


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Coercive Control Legislation Around The World

What countries have coercive control laws?

Coercive control legislation is a cutting edge tool for law enforcement in domestic abuse prevention. Research has shown that coercive control (also known as intimate terrorism) is the high risk marker for domestic homicide, specifically femicide, filicide, and familicide.

According to the 2018 Global Study on Homicide: Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls, 50 000 women were killed globally by an intimate partner or family member.

More countries around the world are recognizing that to end the scourge of domestic homicide coercive control must be criminalized.

Please consider taking action in your country by reaching out to your local representatives, informing them about coercive control, and asking for this lifesaving legislation.


Africa

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
Algeria
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cabo Verde
Cameroon
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Congo
Cote d’Ivoire
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Eswatini
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Libya
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Tanzania
Togo
Tunisia
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Asia

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
Afghanistan
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei
Cambodia
China
Cyprus
East Timor
Georgia
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Kyrgystan
Laos
Lebanon
Malaysia
Maldives
Mongolia
Myanmar
Nepal
North Korea
Oman
Pakistan
Palestine
Philippines
Qatar
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Singapore
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Syria
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkey
Turkmenistan
United Arab Emirates
Uzbekistan
Vietnam
Yemen

Australia

CountriesBillStatusSponsorDate
New South Wales
QueenslandIn developmentIn development as of February 19, 2020Annastacia Palaszczuk
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia

Central America

CountriesBillStatusSponsorDate
Belize
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama

Europe

Although 39 European states have signed the Istanbul Convention, only twenty one (21) have ratified it and only six (6) states are in compliance with Article 33: Psychological Violence: “Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the intentional conduct of seriously impairing a person’s psychological integrity through coercion or threats is criminalized.”

Ireland alone has passed legislation using the term coercive control.

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
FranceLaw on Violence Against Women Within Couples

Istanbul Convention: Art. 33
EnactedSeptember 10, 2010,
Amended 2015
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Hungary
IrelandDomestic Violence Act 2018, Section 39Enacted2018
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
MontenegroIstanbul Convention: Art. 33Compliant
Netherlands
North Macedonia
Poland
PortugalIstanbul Convention: Art. 33Compliant
Republic of Moldova
Romania
San Marino
SerbiaIstanbul Convention: Art. 33Compliant
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
Spain
SwedenLaw Against Intimate Partner Violence

Istanbul Convention: Art. 33
CompliantMaj Karlsson
Switzerland
Ukraine

Middle East

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
Bahrain
Cyprus
Egypt
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Jordan
Kuwait
Lebanon
Oman
Palestine
Qatar
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Turkey
The United Arab Emirates
Yemen

North America

Canada

In Bill C-247, Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Randall Garrison is proposing an amendment to Canada’s Criminal Code “to create an offense of engaging in controlling or coercive conduct that has a significant impact on the person towards whom the conduct is directed, including a fear of violence, a decline in their physical or mental health and a substantial adverse effect on their day-to-day activities.”

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
OntarioBill 207ApprovedDoug Downey(circa) March 1, 2021
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan

Caribbean

CountriesBillStatusSponsorDate
Belize
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Guatemala
Honduras
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama

United States of America

StateBillStatusSponsorDate
Alaska 
Arizona 
Arkansas 
CaliforniaSB1141EnactedSen. Susan RubioSeptember 29, 2020
Colorado 
Connecticut SB77 (Jennifer’s Law)PendingSen. Alex Kasser Pending
Delaware 
Florida 
Georgia 
HawaiiHB2425EnactedDavid TarnasSeptember 15, 2020
Idaho 
Illinois
Indiana 
Iowa 
Kansas
Kentucky 
Louisiana 
Maine 
MarylandHB1352PendingSusan K. McComasFebruary 7, 2020
Massachusetts 
Michigan 
Minnesota
Mississippi 
Missouri 
Montana
Nebraska 
Nevada 
New Hampshire 
New Jersey 
New Mexico 
New YorkS5306PendingKevin S. ParkerApril 24, 2019
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon 
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island 
South Carolina HB5271PendingFebruary 20, 2020
South Dakota 
Tennessee 
Texas 
Utah
Vermont 
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia 
Wisconsin 
Wyoming

South America

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Ecuador
French Guiana
*Département of France
Guyana
Paraguay
Peru
Suriname
Uruguay
Venezuela

United Kingdom

CountryBillStatusSponsorDate
EnglandSerious Crimes ActEnactedDecember 29, 2015
Northern IrelandBill 03/17-22PendingNaomi Long
ScotlandThe Domestic Abuse ActEnactedMarch 9, 2018
WalesSerious Crimes ActEnactedDecember 29, 2015

Is This Coercive Control? on BBC Three

woman covering her face with her hand

A new documentary that focuses on coercive control will air on BBC Three on October 27, 2020. “Is This Coercive Control?” brings together twenty people between the ages of 18-30 together for a social experiment.

Hosted by journalist Ellie Flynn, the group of young people view the story of Alex and Rachel over two days. The story unfolds in 6 parts and ends with an accusation of coercive control.

What is coercive control?

Coercive control describes a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish or frighten their victim.

Coercive control was criminalized in England in 2015.

Over the last 18 months, coercive control has hit the headlines following the re-trial of Sally Challen over the killing of her husband.

In Hawaii the definition of domestic violence was expanded to include coercive control and on September 15, 2020 and in California coercive control was added to the Family Code on September 29, 2020.

During the coronavirus pandemic, called to the UK’s National Domestic Violence helpline rose by 49% percent and incidents of intimate partner homicide rose by 50%.

Different perceptions of coercive control

After viewing the story of Alex and Rachel, the group are asked if they can identify any signs of coercive control and vote on whether the behavior they are watching fits the crimes.

To some members of the group, the behavior the witness in the story of Alex and Rachel seems typical of any relationship but other participants think it crosses the line.

Do any members of the group have a good enough grasp on what coercive control is that they can to spot criminal behavior?

The program found that 70% of participants weren’t able to spot the red flags of coercive control.

After viewing and discussing each segment of Alex and Rachel’s story, barrister Clare Ciborowska, analyses the film the group has viewed and explains what coercive control is according to the law. She also answers questions from the participants.

Watch Is This Coercive Control? on BBC Three.

Watch the Trailer

Resources


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Coercive Control Bill Signed Into Law in Hawaii

Hawaii Signs Coercive Control Bill Into Law | Narcissistic Abuse Rehab

On September 15, 2020, Hawaii became the first US state to adopt legislation against Coercive Control. Governor David Ige signed into law a historic amendment expanding the definition of domestic abuse to include “Coercive Control between family or household members for the purposes of insurance and protective orders.” 

The bills were supported by the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women as well as the Hawaii’s Women’s Legislative Caucus.

Among those present for the signing of the historic bill via Zoom was Hawaii State Senators Laura H. Thielen and Rosalyn Baker, and Members of the Hawaii House of Representatives Linda IchiyamaDavid Tarnas, and Linda Cheape Matsumoto.

Domestic abuse costs the USA 3.3% of its annual gross domestic product 

Research shows that Coercive Control legislation makes fiscal sense for the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, the annual cost of domestic abuse in the USA is an average of 3.3% of the gross domestic product in the form of direct and indirect costs. 

According to the National Violence Against Women Survey published by the Center for Disease Control, domestic abuse causes a loss of 32,114 jobs and 8 million hours of paid labor every year.

In addition to this, every year there are 486,151 emergency room visits by people seeking treatment for rape and physical assault.

By expanding the definition of domestic abuse to include Coercive Control in every state, the USA stands to save billions of dollars as shown by the 1994 Violence Against Women Act sponsored by Joe Biden, which led to an estimated net benefit of $16.4 billion, including $14.8 billion in averted victims’ costs

Coercive Control is the first step in domestic violence

Rep. David A. Tarnas introduced House Bill 2425, which expands the concept of domestic violence to include Coercive Control.

HB2425 adds Coercive Control to the definition of domestic abuse. It is a useful term to help strengthen our statutory basis for preventing domestic violence”, Rep. Tarnas said at the bill signing. “We need to address domestic violence because it is pervasive in our community. It is even worse now because of the economic impact fo the COVID pandemic.”

Coercive Control is the first step in domestic violence. If we can identify it and stop it there, we can save lives.

Rep. David A. Tarnas

Rep. Tarnas described how he learned about Coercive Control through the advocacy of two constituents. “Officer May Lee in Waimea, first introduced me to this whole concept and educated me about how Coercive Control is the first step in domestic violence. If we can identify it and stop it there, we can save lives.”

Hawaii Coercive Control Law | Rep. David Tarnas

The bill was inspired by Scotland’s domestic abuse prevention program, widely praised as the most cutting edge in the world.

“I want to acknowledge another constituent, Barbara Gerbert, [professor emeritus and chair of the Division of Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco] who has been working in domestic violence prevention research for years”, said Rep. Tarnas. “She was the first person to tell me about Scotland, where they incorporated Coercive Control into their statutes. It has shown to be very effective over time at reducing the incidence of domestic [abuse] cases that escalated into violence. They feel that it did prevent homicides from happening in an area where they had significant problems.”

Superintendent Gordon McCreadie, the former national lead for domestic abuse for Police Scotland, was delighted by news of Hawaii’s new Coercive Control Bill.

“When appointed in 2017, I never imagined that Police Scotland and partners including Medics Against Violence would influence legislative change in Hawaii on coercive control.”

Under the leadership of Superintendent McCreadie, 25,000 police officers were educated about domestic violence and coercive control in Scotland.

Superintendent Gordon McCreadie | Coercive Control Bill Hawaii

The groundwork for Hawaii’s Coercive Control bill

Through her extensive domestic abuse research, Professor Gerbert is a key figure in the advancement of the understanding Coercive Control in Scotland today. 

Professor Gerbert explains, “In my research at the University of California, San Francisco, I developed a model of steps people could use to reduce domestic violence. AVDR: Ask Validate Document and Refer. My goal was to support and simplify what law enforcement, health care professionals, veterinarians, etc., could do.”

Her model laid the foundation for Scotland’s Ask Support Care training on domestic abuse from Medics Against Violence and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. Through this program, over 2000 professionals were taught to spot the signs of domestic abuse in patients and clients.

“In 2009, the newly formed Violence Reduction Unit in Scotland asked me if they could use my AVDR model,” says Professor Gerbert, “Scotland had a very high rate of all types of violence. In 10 years violence rates have decreased dramatically.”

In 2017, the short film Harder was produced as part of the training program. The clip illustrated some of the red flags of domestic abuse, specifically the omnipotence aspect of Coercive Control and what professionals can do when they spot it.

After many years of tireless research and advocacy, a broader understanding of non-physical abuse was achieved, pinpointing coercive and controlling behavior as well as ways that members of the community and law enforcement could intervene.

In summary

If you would like to see the definition of domestic abuse expanded to include Coercive Control in your state, reach out to your local representative. Write and tell them about the historic Coercive Control Bill in Hawaii and how you think it could benefit your state.

Coercive Control FAQ

What is criminal coercive behavior?

Coercive behavior is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

What is criminal controlling behavior?

Controlling behavior is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behavior.

Are there coercive control laws in the United States?

Yes. In Hawaii and California.

Resources

Lee, C., Takumi, R.M. (2020, September 15) “HB2425: A Bill for an Act Relating to Domestic Abuse”. Committees on Consumer Protection & Commerce and Judiciary. Retrieved October 3, 2020.

Tarnas, Brower, Creagan, Lee, C., McKelvey, Mizuno, Nakamura, Nakashima, Perruso, Takayama, Ward, Yamane, Lowen, San Buenaventura, Say. (2020, September 15). Hawaii House Bill 2425 relating to Domestic Violence: Coercive Control. Retrieved October 08, 2020.

Tarnas, Brower, Creagan, Lee, C., McKelvey, Mizuno, Nakamura, Nakashima, Perruso, Takayama, Ward, Yamane, Lowen, San Buenaventura, Say. (2020, September 15) “HB 2425 HD1 SD1: Relating to Domestic Abuse”. Hawaii State Legislature. Retrieved October 3, 2020.

Ige, D., Thielen, L.H., Baker, R.H., Tarnas, D.A., Ichiyama, L., Cheape Matsumoto, L. (2020, September 15). “Bill signing ceremony for the Women’s Legislative Caucus Bills.” Zoom. Retrieved October 3, 2020.

Max, W., Rice, D. P., Finkelstein, E., Bardwell, R. A., & Leadbetter, S. (2004, June 19). The economic toll of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. Retrieved October 05, 2020.

Cassidy, P., Thomson, J., Mitchell, J., Media, P., & STV News. (2020, September 17). Hawaii’s new domestic abuse law influenced by Scotland. Retrieved October 05, 2020.

Medics Against Violence. (2017, June 25). Harder. YouTube. Retrieved October 5, 2020.


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California Passes Coercive Control Bill

California Governor Gavin Newsom | State Senator Susan Rubio | Coercive Control

On September 29, 2020, California became the second state in the USA to adopt coercive control legislation. State Senator Susan Rubio‘s Coercive Control Bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I thank Governor Newsom for signing this bill. My hope is that it empowers victims to come forward, and it becomes something that our society understands and recognizes as domestic violence,” said Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). “I’m grateful to be at the forefront of such groundbreaking domestic violence policy, and I look forward to working with my partners and allies to spread coercive control legislation across the nation.”

What is Senate Bill 1141 Domestic Violence: Coercive Control?

The new bill is an amendment to California’s existing Family Code for domestic violence prevention. Formally known as Senate Bill 1141 Domestic Violence: Coercive Controlit allows survivors to include incidents of coercive and controlling behavior as supporting evidence in family court hearings and criminal trials.

“This legislation will help empower survivors of crime and abuse to speak out against their abusers and provide them more time to seek justice,” said Governor Newsom. “California is committed to protecting survivors and supporting them and the organizations that provide them with essential services, especially during this challenging time.”

“SB 1141 advances the rights of domestic violence victims under state law,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “My office was proud to sponsor the legislation, and I thank the Governor for signing the bill.”

How does California Define Coercive Control?

This bill defines coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty,” and recognizes it as a regime of oppression that includes isolating the recipient of the abuse from their support system, threats, and harassment.

Psychological abuse

The bill also defines coercive control as “disturbing the peace of the other party” and highlights that the coercive and controlling behavior “destroys the mental or emotional calm of another person.”

Child Custody

incidents of coercive control can be used as evidence of domestic violence when arranging child custody in family court. Custody of children will not be awarded to a parent who is proven to be a perpetrator or coercive control campaign against a current or former partner or spouse.

How will coercive control perpetrators be held accountable?

California’s new coercive control bill authorizes the court to issue ex parte orders to stop perpetrators of coercive control from abusing their current or former partner or spouse. Violation of the court order will constitute contempt of court and be punishable as a misdemeanor.

Under California law, a misdemeanor is a crime that is less serious than a felony and includes such offenses as driving while under the influence (DUI) and shoplifting.

The new legislation comes into force on January 1, 2021.

Resources


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse. In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org. In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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