Our Local Efforts to Address Coercive Control

Austin, Texas. August 30, 2018. We did not get a picture in Representative Howard’s office, but we took one together before we left the Texas Capitol!

Austin, Texas. August 30, 2018. We did not get a picture in Representative Howard’s office, but we took one together before we left the Texas Capitol!

We are excited to share that last week, we were able to meet with the Chief of Staff Jacob Cottingham and the Director of Constituent Services Cristina Masters, for our state representative in Texas, Texas State Representative Donna Howard. Representative Howard has been a model, and she is a prominent figure in the fight for women’s reproductive rights. We are fortunate to have her as our area’s representative.

In our long-term plan to work on policy, we decided to take the opportunity to start with our own public official to introduce the concept. We are grateful that this meeting was fruitful and will be a good starting off point for us as we begin to gain the policy perspective of actual policymakers in the United States.

In our meeting, we introduced the concept of coercive control, including the precedents set in the United Kingdom’s legal framework, but also how many of the concept’s thought leaders are based in our own country (particularly found in the work of Dr. Evan Stark and other academics highlighted on our People to Know page). As we discussed the concept, we found them to be extremely knowledgeable on these issues and quickly develop an understanding of the topic.

The district staff were able to see why coercive control is a high-risk behavior, and how policy could be smarter in how it addresses the highest risk for victims. We are sure that they would be a great partner if the opportunity arises. In Texas, the legislature meets every two years for only six months (called “in session”), so the possibility for action may be a narrow time window. We hope to continue to engage them as we explore ways to address coercive control in domestic abuse legislation in our own state.

Written by Chelsea Brass