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Coercive control now criminal offence | Seton Family Lawyers | Central Coast Lawyers

Coercive control now a criminal offence in NSW

From 1 July 2024, coercive control is now a stand-alone, criminal offence in New South Wales (NSW). This new law addresses repeated patterns of abusive behaviour, both physical and non-physical, aimed at coercing or controlling a current or former intimate partner. 

What is coercive control? 

Coercive control is an ongoing and repeated pattern of behaviour used to control or dominate another person. It can encompass a range of abusive actions including scaring, hurting, isolating, humiliating, harassing, or monitoring another person. Additionally, it involves taking away someone’s freedom or unreasonably controlling their day-to-day activities. While coercive control can include physical and sexual abuse, it doesn’t necessarily involve either. 

In May 2024, the NSW Government launched an ad campaign “It’s not love, it’s coercive control. Know the signs of abuse” to educate and show coercive control as a pattern of abusive behaviour over time. This behaviour is insidious and can manifest in many ways, including financial abuse, threats against loved ones, tracking of movements or devices, or isolating their partner from friends or family to control them. 

This campaign follows the launch of a website in August 2023, designed to ensure the NSW public has access to credible information about coercive control.

What do the new laws say? 

The new laws make coercive control in current and former intimate partner relationships a criminal offence, with perpetrators facing up to seven years in jail if found guilty. Successful prosecutions must prove an intent to coerce and control. The law only applies to abusive behaviour that happens after 1 July 2024.

While coercive control can happen in other types of relationships, the legislation will be tested in current and former intimate partner relationships first. This is because coercive control has been strongly linked to intimate partner homicide. The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review team found that in 97% of intimate partner domestic violence homicide cases, the victim had experienced coercive and controlling behaviours before being killed.

The legislation will be reviewed in 2026 by the NSW Government, including consideration on whether it should be expanded to criminalise coercive control in other types of relationships. 

Support and help 

Coercive control can be difficult to recognise because it often starts slowly or builds up gradually over time. These behaviours and signs can be subtle, and the abuser often tries to hide their behaviours or isolate the victim from their support network. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control, find out how to get help. If there is immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for Police. 

Seek professional assistance 

Contact our team for a confidential appointment if you are experiencing coercive control and need a family lawyer. We are experienced and accredited family law specialists, who settle 98% of cases outside of court and are conveniently located in Erina, NSW. 

Talk to our team today

Don’t wait to get the professional support that you need to protect yourself and your family.

Where to find us

Suite 9, 168 The Entrance Rd,
Erina NSW 2250