Carmen Aliber: Abuse Survivors Celebrate Freedom from Coercive Control

Published: 07-09-2024 2:55 PM

Modified: 07-10-2024 8:36 PM

Last week as America celebrated its independence, so too did thousands of Massachusetts domestic abuse survivors. Thanks to the unanimous, bipartisan support of our state legislators, the passage of H 4744, An Act to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation, will protect those seeking freedom from an insidious form of domestic abuse known as coercive control.

Massachusetts becomes the seventh state in the nation to expand its definition of domestic abuse to include coercive control, a form of abuse where perpetrators use threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking and other manipulative tactics to maintain control over and force compliance of an intimate partner, spouse or family member.

Abuse comes in many forms — psychological, financial, legal, technological, sexual and physical. This new law will allow victims to obtain restraining orders for non-physical forms of abuse and criminalize the nonconsensual sharing of explicit images (“revenge porn”). The law also creates a diversion program for teens who share explicit images and addresses abuse using deepfake technology and artificial intelligence.

Special thanks to our coercive control bill co-sponsors representing Greenfield — Sen. Joanne Comerford, Rep. Natalie Blais, and Rep. Susannah Whipps — for their early support of this lifesaving legislation. They were unanimously joined by legislators representing the Pioneer Valley; Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester districts, and statewide.

At a time when our world desperately seeks bipartisan leadership for the greater good, I applaud our lawmakers on Beacon Hill for protecting the freedom of all, including survivors of domestic abuse.

Carmen Aliber

Co-founder of Together Rising Above Coercion and domestic abuse survivor, Newton

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