Proposed legislation on coercive control to help protect victims of domestic and sexual violence is currently being discussed by our Justice department.

The term ‘coercive control’ refers to a deliberate and calculated pattern of behaviour and psychological abuse designed to isolate, manipulate, and terrorise a victim into complete fearful obedience. Although this kind of behaviour is often present in domestic abuse and can lead to physical violence, it is not currently a crime in Northern Ireland.

In England, Scotland and wales, this legislation has already been introduced and has proved to support victims and increase convictions for domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid Northern Ireland is pleased to announce a visit from Professor Evan Stark, the leading global expert on coercive control in the context of domestic violence and abuse. Professor Stark will meet with decision makers and practitioners to share information in relation to the introduction of legislation on coercive control.

Professor Stark has acted as an advisor to the English, Welsh, and Scottish governments in the development of their ground-breaking coercive control laws, and continues to engage with governments in Great Britain on the implementation and roll-out of the legislation. During his timely visit, supported by Women’s Aid Northern Ireland, Professor Stark will lend his expertise to staff and ministers involved in the consultation process to develop Northern Ireland’s own coercive control legislation.

The new law on coercive control would go a long way to help support women and men affected by this kind of behaviour. There is a need for this legislation in Northern Ireland as it will help police, judges, and courts to understand the nature of domestic abuse.