Coercive Control Passed in Massachusetts! 


On Tuesday, September 12, 2023 hundreds of individuals gathered in person and via zoom at the Massachusetts State House to attend and testify on multiple bills, including above. The hearing lasted approximately 7 hours. I attended the entire session and would like to share highlights that I feel will help many individuals gain a better understanding of the ongoing issues within the legal system.

On Wednesday, June 12, 2024, representatives stamped unanimous support on compromise legislation that would deliver new protections to victims, close a legal loophole, and end the Bay State's status as a national outlier. The House voted 155-0 on the latest bill (H.4744) that prohibits sharing sexually explicit images and videos without a subject's consent, creates a new diversion and education program for adolescents who engage in sexting, and cracks down on coercive control by abusers.


Celebrating a Team Effort!

The passage of H.4744 is a testament to the tireless efforts of advocates, lawmakers, and survivors. Their dedication and relentless pursuit of justice have brought about significant protections for victims of abuse and exploitation. The journey to this milestone was truly a team effort, demonstrating the power of collective advocacy and the impact of heartfelt stories shared by those affected.

KBH commends everyone involved for their unwavering commitment and hard work in ensuring that Massachusetts is no longer an outlier in protecting its citizens from such heinous acts. This landmark legislation marks a new chapter in safeguarding the dignity and autonomy of all individuals in the Commonwealth.

Type of Law
Bill Title
Abusive Litigation
An Act relative to a Abusive controlling and abusive litigation
Natalie M. Blais
Abusive Litigation
An Act relative to controlling and abusive litigation
Michael O. Moore
Domestic Violence Coercive Control
An Act to improve protections relative to domestic violence
Natalie M. Higgins
Domestic Violence Coercive Control
An Act improving protections relative to domestic violence
Michael O. Moore
Coercive Control
An Act to protect victims of coercive control
Richard M. Haggerty
Coercive Control
An Act relative to coercive control
Patrick M. O'Connor

Dr. Christine Marie Cocchiola testified at the September 12, 2023, at the Massachusetts Legislative Hearing in support of:

H.1399 / S.1079 An Act relative to controlling and abusive litigation.

H.1547 / S.1077 An Act improving protections relative to domestic violence.

H.1542 / S.1097 An Act relative to coercive control.

Her testimony is incredibly powerful and supremely brilliant! Dr. Cocchiola explains why a coercive controlling parent is abusive. The child sees love as conditional and the child fears that if the parent could do this to the spouse, then the coercive controlling parent could do the same thing to the child. Walking on eggshells is a part of the child's everyday life. The abuse is often hidden, leading the child to be hyper-vigilant, easily stressed, dis-regulated, attention difficulties, obsessive behaviors, anxiety, and depression. 

The goal of a coercive controller is revenge at all costs. The relationship may not start out with physical violence, but as testified throughout the 7-hour hearing, violence is far too often, the final act.

The legislation and the legal systems need to support individuals in coercive controlling situations. Passing the above bills helps to give judges, lawyers, victims, and survivors the tools to stop the abuse and mitigate intergenerational childhood trauma.

Coercive Control is a systematically, unacknowledged form of child abuse. Adult victims and survivors need the ability to be heard and supported when they come forward. These bills afford and give our children an opportunity to live in freedom from the entrapment of a coercive controller.

H.1547 / S.1077 Domestic Violence Coercive Control

H.1399 /S.1079 Abusive Litigation

Abusive Litigation and Coercive Control have plagued the family courts for decades. These bills help give the court system the tools to do their jobs.

Every week MFAC is found by mothers who tell their devastating stories about how "the probate court system is being used to coercively control, financially bankrupt, and emotionally harm women and children of Massachusetts.“

MFAC Mission: "Promote a safe, efficient, and fair court system for all users."

"Probate court is publicly known as the wild, wild, wild, west....and anything goes."

Asking the legislature to raise their hands and help.

Lori Johnson Co-Founder MFAC and advocate for MA Bills H1399 Abusive Litigation and H1547 Domestic Violence Coercive Control testified at the 9.12.2023 MA Judicial Hearing along with 70 others.  

These 2 bills along with H1542 are intended to save lives, educate the court systems, and ensure protection to those impacted by coercive control, abusive litigation, and domestic violence.

This hearing was 6 plus hours not inclusive of the anonymous and confidential testimonies not available for public viewing.

Dr. Lisa Fontes PhD, Faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Expert Witness, and Author of "Invisible Chains" Overcoming Coercive Control Your Intimate Partner testified at the 9.12.2023 Massachusetts Legislative hearing.

Lisa testifies that it is night and day working in a court with Coercive Control laws. She has served as an expert witness in about 50 family court cases on coercive control in 15 states.

"I know, and every advocate, survivor and scholar in this courtroom knows that willfully dominating a partner, taking away their money, degrading and terrifying them is domestic violence."

"We need House Bill 1547, so every coercive controller survivor will not have to repeat this difficult, expensive, and uncertain process which also ties up the courts."

In a current Massachusetts case, Dr. Fontes protects the identity of the mother, naming her Carla.  Dr. Fontes stated the husband's goal  "is to bankrupt and control Carla" and she reinforces this is why the Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs House Bill 1399 to protect against Abusive Litigation.

Dr. Fontes explains how the California court system includes coercive control as domestic violence.  She references a case and shares the judgement:  "A similar case in California, where they do have coercive control law, the judge immediately understood that control and abuse is domestic violence and that it harms children!  It is in the statue."

"The judge ruled that the husband's behavior impeded his wife's right to freedom of thought, action, and decision. The husband's behavior was domestic violence because it made his wife unfree"

"We also know that 20% of domestic homicides, the killing was the first act of physical violence, but coercive control was present."

"Please pass House Bills 1547 and 1399 to make sure domestic violence victims in the commonwealth are protected from losing everything including their children, their freedom, and their lives to coercive controlling domestic abusers.

Dr. Fontes is the 3rd testimony of 35 that I will be posting over the next 4 weeks.  The community, the court systems, the spouses, the lawyers, the judges, the media, and the children need to be educated so the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (and many other states) understands the importance of:

H.1399 / S.1079 Abusive Litigation and H.1547 / S.1077 Domestic Violence Coercive Control because these bills will save lives.