New South Wales, Australia, passes a new law and makes coercive control a stand-alone offense. It is the first Australian state to do this. Yeah! The Netherlands should do the same. I cannot believe how slow the Netherlands is at adopting the right legislation to literally save lives. That is why I support what Mark Speakman, the attorney general, said, namely that the government could have spent years in consultation chasing the perfect, but instead had passed the law to save lives. Within two years, the law can be reviewed and adjusted when needed.
Domestic terrorism and coercive control is what I experienced myself as a child, mostly by a half-brother and also by my mother. In fact, it never stops, as in: research underlines that these personalities will fall back into certain violent behaviors at different moments in their lives. In other words, over and over again. Realizing that truly frightens me.
For example, when I do my groceries and bump into this half-brother on the street, I have to deal with the hateful look in his eyes up to date (three weeks ago to be precize when I write this). It isn’t enough that he destroyed my life and is partially responsible for me not having biological children. The story never ends and the dynamics never change sustainably. As much as I have freed myself from the mental cage that he put me in, I have to remain realistic. I know that the patterns of psychological – in my case narcissistic and sadistic behavior, sexual, spiritual, financial and other abuse reoccur, even when a survivor is passed being trapped, literally and figuratively speaking.
The new legislation in New South Wales has an implementation period of up to nineteen months before the law takes effect to allow for police, judicial officers and the population to be educated on the changes. Some people fear that victims will be retraumatized if the law gets implemented too fast. I think that the risk of that happening does not outweigh the lives being saved and the ethical framework, including recognition, healing and prevention of more coercive control and new victimization.
Plus, something that we also experience in the Netherlands is that we need a thorough cultural and systems reform, including police culture, police investigations, criminal court systems and support systems. Professionals need to be educated to understand and recognize coercive control better (and other matters such as harmful traditional practices), as well as that too many cases aren’t dealt with at all and end up in the trash. These are human lives we are talking about.