Full petition terms can be found on our corporate website www.aremedia.com.au/terms.
In February this year, Hannah Clarke and her three children were tragically murdered by Hannah's estranged husband. There was no history of physical abuse in their relationship. Instead, Hannah's former partner controlled nearly all the details of her life when they were together. He isolated her from her family, monitored her phone and told her what to wear. In the lead-up to her death, Hannah told her mother, "I was thinking it wasn't abuse because he never hit me."
Unfortunately, Hannah's story is not an unusual one. In fact, one in four Australian women will experience abuse of some kind over the course of their lifetime. But while we're well-versed on the perils of domestic violence, there's a hidden but equally sinister pandemic happening behind closed doors all over the country.
Coercive control, defined as behaviours including threats, humiliation, monitoring and isolation from friends and family, has the potential to turn deadly. It's a complicated and sustained pattern that can evolve over many years, leaving women feeling trapped and worthless. While it affects all types of relationships, the overwhelming number of people affected are women and the outcome can be tragic.
Chillingly, coercive control is not illegal in Australia. Many women will not get the chance to prove their case to a judge without any overwhelmingly physical evidence. But studies show this kind of emotional abuse is as detrimental to a victim's mental health as physical violence. It has been likened to a form of intimate terrorism, or tantamount to torture.
Coercive control is illegal in a number of countries including Scotland, the UK, Ireland and Wales, but mainland Australia is yet to provide a unified response.
We want to change this.
Today, Are Media, publisher of The Australian Women's Weekly, marie claire, Woman's Day, Better Homes & Gardens, New Idea and more, launched the Criminalise Coercive Control campaign with a powerful coalition of domestic violence groups and legal advocates.
To help us change the law, we need you. Sign our petition calling on the government to make coercive control a crime and help us change the lives of thousands of women.
If you or anyone you know needs help or advice, contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.