Domestic Violence Bill Defines ‘Coercive Control’ as Abuse

woman's hand on screen

In a move fitting for Domestic Violence Awareness month, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed the Coercive Control bill into law, which provides increased protections for domestic violence victims. “Coercive Control” will be added to the Family Code. 

The bill was authored by State Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), who was recently interviewed by Spectrum News and revealed she was a survivor of domestic violence.

“I’m grateful to be at the forefront of such groundbreaking domestic violence policy, and I look forward to working with my partners and allies to spread coercive control legislation across the nation,” said Sen. Rubio in a statement. She went on to thank Gov. Newsom for signing the bill and said she hopes it will empower victims to come forward and becomes something our society understands and recognizes as domestic violence.

The bill allows victims to use descriptions of psychologically abusive behavior, considered coercive control, and use them as evidence in a court of law, specifically family court hearings and criminal trials.

Behavior defining coercive control includes isolating the victim from family and friends, controlling the victim’s communications, behavior and finances, depriving the victim of basic necessities, and other forms of behavior that causes emotional distress. 

The Realist Woman’s take:

This bill is incredibly important because it considers the fact that domestic violence is more than physical abuse. Other forms of abuse, as described in the story above, can be just as damaging as physical abuse. The psychological impact of this form of abuse can last a lifetime and break someone down mentally and emotionally.

Every abuse victim is not physically abused and I’m pleased that the state of California is now interpreting and expanding the definition of abuse. Victims can now use those incidents as evidence against their abuser. 

Lastly, I’ve said this before and I will always stress the importance and value of having women in politics. State Senator Susan Rubio authored this bill, having been a victim herself of domestic violence. When women are in positions of power in influence, especially in the political arena, they are more likely to look out for women’s interests. Period. Without State Sen. Susan Rubio, would psychological abuse or coercive control have been considered as abuse and adopted into the state’s family code? Maybe. But with domestic violence being considered the pandemic within the pandemic, this bill comes at just the right time.