Coercive Control Laws 2021







Coercive Control laws remove the incident-specific approach to criminal domestic violence cases. Where the stringent requirement of severe physical injury or rape alone determines whether domestic violence has taken place or if a pattern exists. Coercive control laws include nonphysical abuse such as stalking, harassment, gaslighting, financial abuse, intimidation and more. ACECC

Recent Bills Enacted






September 29, 2020, California Governor signed into to law SB1141. The bill amends CA family law code to include coercive control.






On September 15, 2020, the Hawaii Governor signed into law an extensive criminal coercive control bill.






RCW  26.51.010 

On January 1, 2021, the legislature recognized that individuals who abuse their intimate partners often misuse court proceedings in order to control, harass, intimidate, coerce, and/or impoverish the abused partner. Court proceedings can provide a means for an abuser to exert and reestablish power and control over a domestic violence survivor long after a relationship has ended. 

Bills Pending






New York


New York proposed a bill in the Senate on April 24, 2019, to establish the crime of Coercive Control and make it a Class E Felony. This bill is still in active review and is awaiting a Senate Committee hearing.








February 7, 2020, a bill introduced to the House that expands the state definition of abuse. The bill also adds coercive control as a reason to petition for a peace order or protective order.





South Carolina


Introduced in the House on February 20, 2020, a bill to amend the 1976 Domestic Violence Bill and currently residing in the House Committee on Judiciary, South Carolina is adding section 16-25-130 which creates the offense of Coercive Control. 

International Bills Enacted



New South Wales parliment, a  from the NSW Labor Opposition introduced  legislation that would give domestic abusers up to 10 years in prisonif convicted of coercive control. The progress of the bill has run into some snags early on.


Bill 207, Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act

On Nov 20, 2020, Bill 207, Moving Ontario Family Law Forward Act, received royal assent . It is anticipated to come into effect on March 1, 2021 along with revisions to the Children’s Law Reform Act (CLRA) . This is same date that similar revisions to the federal Divorce Act are implemented.


Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018

On March 9, 2018, The Domestic Abuse Act passed by the Scottish Parliament created a specific offense of domestic abuse which covers not only physical abuse but other forms of psychological harm and coercive and controlling behavior. Scotland has the most extensive laws on Coercive Control.

United Kingdom

Serious Crimes Act of 2015 (UK)  

In June 2015, the UK added Section 76 to the Serious Crime Act 2015 and it was passed in December 2015. The law was created to recognize controlling or coercive behavior in an intimate or family relationship as Domestic Abuse. 


Serious Crimes Act of 2015 (Wales)

June 2015, the Government in Wales, along with the UK, has criminalized coercive control.  Much like the UK the law recognizes controlling or coercive behavior in an intimate or family relationship as Domestic Abuse.


Domestic Violence Act of 2018

On May 8, 2018, Ireland’s Domestic Violence Act added the offense of Coercive Control. This law protects not only victims in familial relationships but intimate partners as well.



September 10, 2010, France adopted into law a ban against “psychological violence within marriage”, becoming the first country to officially criminalize psychological abuse. France has also enacted protections for victims along with high penalties, including fines and imprisonment. In July 2020, improvements were made to protect victims and children.