The criminalisation of coercive control: The power of law?

Sandra Walklate, Kate Fitz-Gibbon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Making sense of intimate partner violence has long been seen through the lens of coercive control. However, despite the longstanding presence of this concept, it is only in recent years that efforts have been made to recognise coercive control within the legal context. This article examines the extent to which the law per se has the power, or indeed the capacity, to respond to what is known about coercive control. To do so, it charts the varied ways in which coercive control has entered legal discourse in different jurisdictions and maps these efforts onto what is evidenced about the nature and extent of coercive control in everyday life. This article then places the legal and the everyday side by side and considers the unintended consequences of ‘coercive control creep’. In conclusion, it is suggested that the criminalisation of coercive control only serves to fail those it is intended to protect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-108
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Coercive control
  • Criminal law
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Legal discourse

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