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Coercive Control

Content warning

This webpage contains material regarding family and domestic violence. If this information is distressing for you or if you need support in regard to domestic or family violence there are a range of help and support services available.

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This webpage is about family and domestic violence, including coercive control. If you think someone may be checking the websites you visit or using technology in other ways to monitor you, you may wish to find out how you can browse more safely before you continue.

National Principles to Address Coercive Control in Family and Domestic Violence

The Australian Government recognises coercive control as a pressing issue that requires a coordinated national approach. The government has collaborated with all state and territory governments to develop the National Principles to Address Coercive Control in Family and Domestic Violence (the National Principles). The National Principles create a shared national understanding of coercive control, which is important for improving the safety of Australians, particularly women and children.

The Standing Council of Attorneys-General released the National Principles on 22 September 2023.

Visit the Standing Council of Attorneys-General page for details and to read the 22 September 2023 meeting communiqué.

The 7 National Principles focus on:

  1. A shared understanding of the common features of coercive control.
  2. Understanding the traumatic and pervasive impacts of coercive control.
  3. Taking an intersectional approach to understanding features and impacts.
  4. Improving societal understanding of coercive control.
  5. Embedding lived experience.
  6. Coordinating and designing approaches across prevention, early intervention, response, and recovery and healing.
  7. Embedding the National Principles in legal responses to coercive control.

The National Principles are designed to be used by government and non-government organisations involved in addressing coercive control. The National Principles will also be a tool to support greater community awareness of coercive control. By improving awareness of coercive control, the National Principles will inform more effective responses to family and domestic violence and promote more consistent and safer outcomes for victim-survivors.

We have developed a range of supporting resources to accompany the National Principles, including fact sheets and videos, resources for First Nations audiences, language translations and resources for healthcare practitioners to recognise and respond to coercive control.

What is coercive control?

The National Principles recognise that coercive control is almost always an underpinning dynamic of family and domestic violence. Coercive control involves perpetrators using patterns of abusive behaviours over time in a way that creates fear and denies liberty and autonomy.

People who use coercive control may use physical or non-physical abusive behaviours, or a combination of both. All abusive behaviours are serious. Coercive control has traumatic and pervasive immediate and long-term impacts on victim-survivors, their families and communities.

The signs of coercive control can be difficult to spot. People who use coercive control can use many different types of abusive behaviours to exert power and dominance. Behaviours can be subtle and insidious, and individually targeted and tailored to the victim-survivor.

For further information see the The National Principles to Address Coercive Control in Family and Domestic Violence.

Understanding coercive control – fact sheets

The below fact sheets provide further information about coercive control and its impacts:

Understanding coercive control – videos

What is Coercive control?

Recognising the signs of coercive control in relationships

Am I experiencing coercive control?

What can I do if someone I know is experiencing coercive control?

First Nations resources 

The below resources have been adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences:

Coercive control in First Nations communities

‘Strong Together’ artwork – Dunguludja Yapaneyepuk (in Yorta Yorta language)

Created by Bayadherra

Artwork - ‘Strong Together’ – Dunguludja Yapaneyepuk

Dunguludja Yapaneyepuk meaning ‘strong together’ in Yorta Yorta language depicts the establishment and implementation of genuine and respectful relationships within the community to advance resilience, strength and personal growth of victim-survivors of coercive control. Pink and purple yarning circles are a communal meeting place to gather together, sharing stories and experiences in a culturally safe environment. The yarning circles are linked by orange journey lines which represent community connection and the shared journey of healing, promoting the development of inner confidence and resilience. The colour orange is reflective of the Sun, The Giver of Life who we draw strength and warmth from on this journey. The white dots surrounding these yarning circles acknowledge community understanding and outreach; these dots will spread outwards to represent the increase of community understanding and awareness of victim-survivors' stories to provide greater support. The use of pink links to bloodlines, nurturing and the importance of family and support networks towards holistic healing.

The dashed blue lines represent the formation of different healing pathways of victim-survivors. These lines are organic and free-flowing to acknowledge how healing and growth is a personal experience and differs for each individual. The flowing river, waterholes and surrounding dots emphasise water as an important element of Country and culture. Water holds significant properties towards physical, emotional and spiritual healing and symbolises the rejuvenation of our spiritual wellbeing.

This artwork has been used in the First Nations resources.

Guides for healthcare practitioners

Healthcare professionals are often a first point of contact for people experiencing coercive control. As such, they can provide a critical intervention opportunity. To this end, we have developed two practical resources to support healthcare practitioners recognise and respond to coercive control.

Help and support

If you, or someone you know, need help, the following services are available:

  • 1800RESPECT – National family, domestic and sexual violence support counselling service. This service is free and confidential. Available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
    1800 737 732
  • Men’s Referral Service – For men in Australia who are concerned about their use of violence or abusive behaviours. Available 8am to 9pm (Monday – Friday); 9am to 6pm (Saturday and Sunday).
    1300 766 491
  • Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Helpline – For anyone in Australia whose life has been impacted by sexual, domestic or family violence. Available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
    1800 943 539