By Jordan Tunks
Domestic violence is a very serious in the United States. Domestic violence is defined as violence or abuse in a domestic setting such as a marriage or cohabitation. By definition, domestic violence does not cover stalking, threatening, controlling, or depriving and only covers physical assaults. According to ncadv.org 10 million women and men are physically abused each year by an intimate partner. That is 10% of the United State population. Domestic violence is more than twice as likely to happen to women than men. 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence compared to 1 in 9 men. Hawaii and California saw a problem with this and knew there needed to be a change.
Hawaii and California have taken a huge step for society and passed the nation’s first laws against coercive control. Coercive control is the nonphysical abuse including psychological, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. The anticipated outcome of this control is for the dependent to isolate themselves from support systems, regulate how they live their everyday life, and deprive them of needs to be independent and be on their own. Domestic abuse laws typically focus on physical abuse and coercive control laws focus more on the steps prior to the physical assault in hopes to stop it before it gets physical.
Hawaii signed the law into effect on September 15, 2020. The law defines coercive control as a “pattern of threatening, humiliating, or intimidating actions that take away the individual’s liberty or freedom and strip away the individual’s sense of self, including bodily integrity and human rights”. The Hawaii law classifies coercive control a class A felony and allows for criminal prosecution.
California signed the law into effect on September 29, 2020. The California law defines coercive control as “pattern of behavior that in purpose or effect unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty”. California has hopes this will allow survivors to speak against their abusers and provide them more ground to seek justice for themselves and get an abuser off the streets.
More states are already looking into this law. This is a big step forward for California and Hawaii that hopefully all states will look into and consider seriously. This can help stop violence at the root and before it becomes physical. This law needs to be publicized more and people should get educated on the topic and how they can help.