Vermont House Passes Landmark Bill to Combat Coercive Control

Vermont House Passes Landmark Bill to Combat Coercive Control

Coercive Control By Jan 16, 2024

In a landmark move, the Vermont House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved H.27, the first bill to pass this legislative session. This crucial legislation focuses on addressing domestic and intimate partner violence. It aims to enhance legal measures against coercive control.

According to the VT Digger, the bill passed with a decisive 106-31 vote. It marks a significant step in combating one of the most prevalent forms of violence in the state. Notably, the 31 representatives who voted against the bill belonged to the Republican party.

H.27, carried over from the 2023 session, seeks to redefine domestic violence, specifically incorporating “coercive and controlling behavior.” This modification aims to empower judges to issue abuse prevention orders in civil courts. They may be used for instances where emotional and mental abuse is inflicted by intimate partners. Currently, survivors must provide evidence of physical abuse before obtaining such legal protections.

The H.27 Bill

Domestic violence experts testified to the House Judiciary Committee, revealing that abusers employ various forms of coercive and controlling behavior. Abusers may control finances, monitor internet and phone usage, dictate clothing choices, and make threats against partners, children, pets, or themselves. Rachel Louise Snyder, a professor and author of the book No Visible Bruises, underscored that these actions can cause emotional and psychological harm without necessarily leading to physical violence.

Snyder presented the House Judiciary Committee with distressing examples, notably the tragic case of Michelle Monson Mosure and her husband Rocky Mosure. Rocky exercised coercive control over Michelle. He subjected her to financial abuse. Rocky made her follow rules and regulation about what she should wear. He even used a rattlesnake to intimidate her. Rocky’s aggression escalated until one day he took shotgun and committed familicide, killing 23-year-old Michelle and their two children, Kristie and Kyle, before finally turning the gun on himself

40% of Violent Crime Calls Involve Domestic Violence

Rep. Angela Arsenault, in presenting H.27 to her colleagues, underscored Vermont’s domestic violence statistics. Forty percent of violent crime calls to law enforcement in the state involve domestic violence, with 80% of victims being women. Additionally, almost half of Vermont’s homicides are linked to domestic violence.

Despite its critical objectives, H.27 faced opposition from all 31 Republican representatives who voted against it. Concerns were raised in the House Judiciary Committee about potential First Amendment infringements and the capacity of Vermont’s judicial system to handle an influx of abuse prevention orders.

Rep. Arsenault expressed disappointment with the opposition, particularly in a legislative session already focused on public safety. She highlighted the need to address domestic violence comprehensively, given its significant impact on public safety and the well-being of women in the state.

While attempts to reach opposing House members were unsuccessful, H.27’s approval stands as a pivotal moment in Vermont’s commitment to countering domestic violence. The bill now awaits further consideration and action as it progresses through the legislative process.

Learn more about which states have passed coercive control legislation.

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.

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