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How Coercive Control is Domestic Violence in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Jul 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

If you are a victim of coercive control or other forms of domestic violence, don't wait any longer. Contact me here or call (415) 840-0570.

The Governor of California enacted a significant piece of legislation into law that unequivocally establishes “coercive control” as a form of domestic abuse in the Golden State. The legislation is actually an amendment to the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act.

What Exactly is Coercive Control?

Experts describe “coercive control” as a pattern of abusive behavior inflicted upon someone by their partner (typically a spouse or similar significant other). Coercive control typically involves a spouse employing a combination of violence, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, and control to subordinate the will of their significant other.

Examples of Coercive Control

If you have concerns about the well-being of a friend or relative, but are unsure whether they are actually being subjected to coercive control, here are some common examples of the types of actions and behaviors associated with coercive control:

  • Isolating the other party from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.
  • Depriving the other party of basic necessities.
  • Controlling or monitoring the other party's movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.
  • Forbidding or compelling conduct that the other party has a right to engage in or abstain from.

New Statutory Language Establishing Coercive Control as a Form of Domestic Violence

The legislation signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom formally amends Section 6320 of the Family Code to clarify that coercive control constitutes “disturbing the peace of the other party.” This is important because this new legal definition will now provide an abused spouse a pathway to file for a domestic violence restraining order.

Overview California's Domestic Violence Prevention Act

As mentioned, the legislation enacted by Governor Newsom is actually an amendment to an already-codified law – the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA). This legislation was enacted in 1993 and provides pathways for domestic violence victims to obtain immediate legal protection in the form of restraining orders and other injunctions against abusers. For example, the DVPA empowers courts to issue domestic violence restraining orders upon reasonable proof of one past act or multiple past acts of abuse.

New Law Highlights Reality that Abuse Can Be Both Physical and Non-Physical

The laws in California have long recognized the reality that being abused by a spouse, or subjected to “domestic violence,” is not confined to physical acts of violence and/or bodily injury. This is why, pursuant to California law, an individual can seek a domestic violence restraining order based on non-physical conduct, including the following:

  • Threats;
  • Harassment;
  • Stalking;
  • Surveillance; and/or
  • Disturbing the peace of the other party

Have Questions? Contact The Geller Firm Today

If you or a loved one is being subjected to coercive control, or some other form of spousal abuse, now is the time for action to ensure you get into a safe environment sooner rather than later. The Geller Firm is here to help. Our legal team possesses a deep understanding of California law, particularly the laws and regulations governing divorce, domestic violence, and other family law issues. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule a confidential appointment.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of California.


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