Coercion, Control and Criminal Responsibility: Exploring Professional Responses to Offending and Suicidality in the Context of Domestically Abusive Relationships

Vanessa E. Munro*, Vanessa Bettinson, Mandy Burton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Significant strides have been made in the law’s recognition of harms arising from domestic abuse. In England and Wales, the Serious Crimes Act 2015, and in Scotland, the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, have supported a more holistic understanding of the dynamics of abuse and the means by which coercion and control are deployed to cement and supplant perpetrators’ violence. In this article, we explore what the introduction of these offences means in other situations where questions regarding the impact of abuse upon victims’ agency arise: specifically, where victims commit an offence that might have been compelled by abusive behaviour, or take their own lives in contexts that might indicate perpetrators’ liability for suicide. In particular, drawing on interviews with professionals across both jurisdictions, we highlight the precarity of recognition of the effects of coercive control and the need to engage in more complicated discussions about when and why context matters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalSocial & Legal Studies
Early online date12 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Sept 2023
Externally publishedYes

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