Resource: Invisible Bars: Adapting the Crime of False Imprisonment to Better Address Coercive Control and Domestic Violence in Tennessee

We are excited to share this important legal resource, created by recent Vanderbilt Law School graduate Alexandra Michelle Ortiz. Invisible Bars: Adapting the Crime of False Imprisonment to Better Address Coercive Control and Domestic Violence in Tennessee was published in Vanderbilt Law Review and outlines a proposed adaptation to the preexisting law of false imprisonment to create a comprehensive coercive control statute in the United States. The Note examines what advocates can learn from the UK Law and why the United States Constitution requires American advocates take a different approach.

The abstract states: 

On average, three or more women are murdered by their intimate partners in the United States every day. Despite the now well-known correlation between coercive control—the strategic use of oppressive behavior to control primarily female partners—and intimate partner homicide, most states continue to focus their criminal domestic violence laws solely on physical violence. As a result, state laws often fail to protect victims from future and escalating violence. Focusing on Tennessee law and drawing from the work of Evan Stark as well as the United Kingdom’s Serious Crime Act of 2015, this Note proposes adapting the preexisting crime of false imprisonment to create the first comprehensive criminal coercive control statute in the United States.

This is an important resource for anyone interested in exploring possible legal remedies to better protect victims of coercive control in the United States. While it focuses primarily on coercive control in intimate relationships, it is a helpful place to start that could also impact victims of coercive control in other types of relationships (gangs, human trafficking, political and religious cults, etc.).

Written by Abigail Hazlett