Advocate for Bill C-332 and help expand protections for people in abusive relationships

It’s a type of abuse experienced in most violent relationships and is a common precursor to domestic homicide. And it’s often completely legal.

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour used to regulate and dominate another person’s daily life and remove their personal agency. It can include emotional, financial, physical and sexual abuse. Ultimately, it causes individuals to make decisions that are not in their own best interest.

Bill C-332: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Coercive and Controlling Conduct) seeks to criminalize coercive control, adding more protections to people experiencing abuse. This vital bill is facing a second reading in Canada’s parliament on November 9. If it passes this hurdle, the legislation will move on to a committee which will study the proposed law.

Bill C-332 was introduced in May by NDP MP Laurel Collins (Victoria). It proposes that a person who engages in coercive control against a partner or family member could be charged with an offense punishable by up to five years in prison. Read the announcement here.

Criminalizing coercive control will:

  • Give survivors a voice.
    Current definitions of abuse focused on physical harm ignore the vast number of Canadians who have been abused without a fist being raised.

  • Protect survivors.
    Most victims of domestic abuse report experiencing coercive control, yet this dangerous form of abuse is not fully covered under existing statutes. Results from the UK show that coercive control legislation leads to increased calls to the police for support (Stark and Hester, 2019). When survivors ask for support, we must answer.

  • Prevent escalating violence.
    According to a 2019 report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, coercive control was a common precursor to domestic homicide. With this bill, survivors will have legal protection and people who use coercive and controlling behaviours can be held accountable (Dawson et al., 2019). 

ACT NOW: Write Your Member of Parliament

Make sure your representative in Ottawa knows that protecting survivors is a priority and that you want them to vote to support Bill C-322.

  • Lookup your member of parliament here, by searching with your postal code.
  • Click on their name and go to the contact tab to find their information.
  • Email or write your representative. To get you started, click here for a templated message (.PDF).

Sagesse encourages all Canadians to support this bill and join the effort to end domestic abuse. We urge the federal government to take swift action to pass this bill and ensure that coercive control is recognized as a serious form of abuse. 

Quick Facts 

  • In one study, over 95 percent of victims of domestic abuse reported experiencing coercive control (Myhill, 2017). 
  • Statistics Canada found that 60 to 80 percent of abuse reported to services involve non-physically abusive tactics (Statistics Canada, 2014). 
  • Relationships with coercive control result in greater injury to the victim and are characterized by more frequent and severe violence which are less likely to desist (Myhill, 2015). 
  • Coercive control legislation has been enacted in jurisdictions including England and Wales, followed by Ireland and Scotland and some U.S. states.
  • Within the first three years of implementation of the working definition of coercive control in the UK, calls for support to the police went up 31 percent (Stark & Hester, 2019). 

For more information and resources related to coercive control, click here.