Is more law the answer? Seeking justice for victims of intimate partner violence through the reform of legal categories

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In 2015 in England and Wales a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour was introduced with the aim of improving legal responses to intimate partner violence. Recognizing the historical limits of legal interventions in this area, this article examines the efficacy of coercive control as a conceptual device for improving access to law and justice outcomes for women victims. To do so, it considers the problems and possibilities of translating a concept generated from clinical practice into legal practice alongside an exploration of the potential unintended consequences of this new offence. The gendered analysis undertaken here reveals the limitations of framing women’s experiences as ‘coercive control’ in law and concludes that, in the case of coercive control, more law is not the answer to improving responses to intimate partner violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-131
Number of pages17
JournalCriminology & Criminal Justice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Coercive control
  • criminal law
  • criminal offences
  • intimate partner violence
  • violence against women

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