International Coercive Control Legal Network

De Montfort University launched the International Coercive Control Legal Network at a Justice Colloquium held virtually on 30th and 31st July 2020.

The Planning Committee consisted of: Prof Vanessa Bettinson (DMU), Prof Evan Stark (Rutgers University), Prof Julia Tolmie (Auckland University), Harriet Wistrich, (UK and Director of Centre for Women’s Justice) and Prof Liz Sheehy (University of Ottawa).

Statement of Purpose and Intent

Controlling or coercive behaviour lies at the heart of many cases of domestic violence. It does not describe a single incident but a repeated pattern of behaviour in which one person tries to control another through intimidation, threats, violence or sexual abuse.

This form of abuse only became a criminal offence in 2015 and there is still a lack of recognition within the criminal justice system, police and lawyers around how it impacts on victims, on families and on children.

To help tackle this – and to support victims – De Montfort University launched a high-profile International Coercive Control Legal Network at this Justice Colloquium in July 2020.

The network aims to fight for and develop offences and defences around the globe that can be used by people who have been subjected to coercive control – both as victims and where they have committed offences as a direct result of coercive behaviours by an intimate partner or family member.

The work of the new legal network aligns with a number of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 3, Good Health and Wellbeing; SDG 5, Gender Equality; SDG 16, Peace Justice and Strong Institutions.

The programme consisted of a prestigious international experts.

Professor Evan Stark

Dr Marsha Scott, CEO Women’s Aid Scotland

Detective Declan Daly head of the Specialist Unit addressing domestic abuse and coercive control

Caroline Counihan B.L.

Caitriona Gleeson, Safe Ireland

Robert Ewin, Detective Sergeant, North Crime & Safeguarding Hub, Durranhill Police Station

Prof Denise Wilson (Co-Director Taupua Waiora Centre for Mãori Health Research, AUT University, New Zealand)

Harriet Wistrich (Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice), Clare Wade QC (Garden Court Chambers) Prof Julia Tolmie (University of Auckland) and Prof Elizabeth Sheehy (University of Ottawa)

Katy Swaine Williams and Dr Jenny Earle from Prison Reform Trust, Paramjit Ahluwalia (Lamb Building), Harriet Wistrich, Centre for Women’s Justice

Access to the audio recordings for speakers in available upon request via email from Vanessa Bettinson (