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Coercive control may require criminal defense in NH

When many people think of domestic violence, they imagine black eyes and broken bones. Soon, however, courts in Derry and across the country may be hearing criminal defense against a different form of domestic assault that is not always visible to the naked eye. Coercive control is a systematic form of physical and emotional domination of one partner over the other over a period of time. One partner may use a combination of humiliation, manipulation or isolation as ways to control the other partner.

One woman described her husband's bizarre demands that she sleep only on her back and wash herself in a certain order when she showered. Another woman related that her husband forced her to share his toothbrush and tracked her every move with cameras in the home and GPS on her car. Some who claim to be victims of coercive control say their partners constantly criticized their abilities as spouses, parents, providers or housekeepers. One study concluded that coercive control often leads to physical abuse.

As more people claim to be victims of this mistreatment, courts across the world are beginning to recognize coercive control as a form of abuse on par with serious acts of crime. England and Wales, for example, recently included coercive control in their definition of domestic abuse and instituted a maximum sentence of five years in jail for a conviction. In the United States, psychological mistreatment is gaining recognition as a form of criminal domestic abuse.

Coercive control, unlike physical abuse, may be more difficult to prove in court because the injuries are not visible. It may also be easier for a person to be falsely accused of this type of abuse. Any allegation of domestic assault can have serious ramifications for the accused. A person in Derry or elsewhere in New Hampshire who faces accusations of any kind of domestic abuse will be wise to contact a criminal defense attorney who has successfully defended domestic abuse charges.

Source: madinamerica.com, "With Coercive Control, the Abuse Is Psychological", Abby Ellin, July 11, 2016

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