Coercive control as a framework for responding to male partner abuse in the UK

Opportunities and challenges

Authored by: Evan Stark

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Violence

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472483515
eBook ISBN: 9781315612997
Adobe ISBN:


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The aim of this chapter is to contextualize a ‘new definition’ of domestic violence as ‘coercive control’ adopted by the British Home Office in 2012 and the creation by Westminster in 2015 of an offence of ‘coercive and controlling behaviour’ (s.76) covering England, Wales and Gibraltar. England is the main focus of the analysis, though I touch on developments in Wales, Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. Three contextual factors are described: the growing international consensus that ‘gender violence’ be defined broadly and as a violation of human rights; the limited utility of an assault model as a way to understand and/or manage partner abuse; and the emergence of coercive control as a credible alternative framework. The conclusion identifies challenges posed by an approach based on coercive control.

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