person being controlled like a puppet

Explained: The Impact of Bill C-332 on Intimate Partner Relationships

Bill C-332 recently passed in the House of Commons and is now heading to the Senate. This bill criminalizes coercive control in intimate partner relationships, defining it as a pattern of behavior that instills fear for safety through actions like controlling finances, monitoring movements, and threatening violence.  

By recognizing coercive control as a form of abuse and providing legal recourse for non-physical abuse, Bill C-332 aims to protect victims and prevent the escalation of violence. While there are concerns about implementation and potential misuse, this legislation is a crucial step toward addressing intimate partner violence and providing necessary protections.

Let's break down what this means and why it's so important.  


What is Coercive Control? 

Coercive control is a pattern of abusive behavior that causes victims to fear for their safety through intimidation, isolation, and deprivation. It's about power and control, not just physical violence.  


Provisions of Bill C-332 

  • Defines coercive control as a pattern of behavior that makes victims fear for their safety 

  • Criminalizes coercive control towards an intimate partner, with up to 5 years in prison 

  • Covers behaviors like controlling finances, monitoring movements, restricting access to transportation or communication and threatening violence 


Why This Bill is Crucial for Women Leaving Intimate Partner Violence 

  • Fear & Isolation: Coercive control isolates victims from support systems, making it hard to seek help 

  • Financial Control: Abusers often control finances, leaving victims without resources to leave 

  • Threats & Intimidation: Abusers use threats to maintain control, instilling fear in victims 

  • Lack of Legal Protection: Without laws like Bill C-332, non-physical abuse is harder to address legally 

Bill C-332 is a step towards breaking these barriers and providing necessary protections. 


Potential benefits: 

  • Recognizes coercive control as a form of abuse and a precursor to physical violence and femicide 

  • Provides legal recourse for victims of non-physical forms of abuse and control 

  • Aims to prevent escalation of abuse by criminalizing coercive behaviors early on 


Potential Concerns 

  • Some argue the definition is too narrow as coercive control can occur outside intimate partner relationships (e.g., against children or disabled persons) 

  • Some have concerns about how the law will be implemented and whether police and courts will have adequate training to identify coercive control patterns   

  • Some argue there’s potential for overuse or misuse of the law, as coercive control can be difficult to prove without physical evidence 


Moving Forward 

Bill C-332 is now in the Senate for further debate and approval. Stay informed and support efforts to refine and pass this crucial legislation. Together, we can make a difference.