By: Mike Crooks

The NSW Government has launched an eye-opening ad campaign in the lead-up to new domestic violence laws.

Key points

  • 97% of intimate partner homicides in NSW between 2000 and 2018 were preceded by the perpetrator using coercive control towards the victim.
  • Coercive control ads, which begin rolling out today, use the tagline, “It’s not love, it’s coercive control. Know the signs of abuse.”
  • $925 million “Leaving Violence” package to support women to escape an abusive partner announced today.

From July, coercive control laws will take affect in NSW.

Coercive control is when someone repeatedly hurts, scares or isolates another person to assert their control over them.

The Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison said that the ad campaign is to raise awareness about coercive control and educate people about the behaviour.

“It’s when someone repeatedly hurts or scares or isolates another person that they’re in a relationship with,” said Minister Harrison.

“It may include financial abuse, tracking someone’s movements, or isolating them from friends and family in order to control them.”

Coercive control

NSW became the first state to create the offence of coercive control, after parliament passed legislation in 2022.

“Today’s the day we’ve passed a law to save lives in NSW,” Attorney General Mark Speakman said at the time.

“We know that almost invariably coercive control is a precursor to intimate partner domestic violence homicide.”

97% of intimate partner homicides in NSW between 2000 and 2018 were preceded by the perpetrator using coercive control towards the victim.

If found guilty of coercive control, perpetrators can face up to a maximum of 7 years in prison.

From July, it will be a criminal offence in NSW “when a person uses abusive behaviours towards a current or former intimate partner with the intention to coerce or control them,” according to a NSW Government statement.

“The criminal offence will capture repeated patterns of physical or non-physical abuse used to hurt, scare, intimidate, threaten or control someone.”

A link to murder

According to the government, coercive control has been “strongly linked” to intimate partner homicide.

The NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team found that in 97 per cent of intimate partner homicides in NSW between 2000 and 2018 were preceded by the perpetrator using coercive control towards the victim.

“Coercive control is an insidious and damaging form of domestic violence,” Deputy Premier Prue Car said.

“It can leave victim survivors feeling isolated, vulnerable, and alone.”

“Not love”

The coercive control ads, which begin rolling out today, use the tagline, “It’s not love, it’s coercive control. Know the signs of abuse.”

“This campaign is vital because it helps build community awareness of coercive control and what it looks like in intimate partner relationships, with the ultimate goal of saving lives,” said Minister Harrison.

“These ads depict abusive behaviours that are, regrettably, all too familiar to some people in our community. It shines a light on this insidious abuse before it escalates and results in homicide.”

$5,000 grants to escape

The ad campaign was launched on the same day Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a $925 million “Leaving Violence” package to support women to escape an abusive partner.

Eligible women will have access of up to $5,000 to leave domestic violence.

The ads, which begin rolling out today, use the tagline, “It’s not love, it’s coercive control. Know the signs of abuse.”

So far this year in Australia 27 women have allegedly been killed by their male partner, a statistic that sparked rallies across Australia on the weekend.

“The government will invest $925 million over five years… to permanently establish the Leaving Violence program so those escaping violence can receive financial support, safety assessments and referrals to support pathways,” the Prime Minister said.

“We need to speak out”

This year, the Queensland Government also passed coercive control legislation.

The laws come five years after the shocking domestic violence murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children in Brisbane in 2020.

Miss Clarke’s parents Sue and Lloyd Clarke have long championed for the criminalisation of coercive control.

“We need to speak out against those signs of control when we see them in our mates, in our family members, and even in ourselves and recognise… this isn’t just poor behaviour, it’s a problem,” Sue Clarke said.

“We’re hoping this important step will inspire other states to empower and protect women and children in their communities.”

For more information on coercive control visit here.

If you need support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au. If you have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.


Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash