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From the Globe and Mail–A push to criminalize a type of domestic abuse known as coercive control is gaining momentum in Canada, after a private member’s bill put forward by the opposition New Democrats received cross-party support in Parliament on Thursday.

Lisa Hepfner, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, told the House of Commons that the Liberal government is supporting Bill C-332 – a proposed law, drafted by NDP MP Laurel Collins, that treats repeated controlling and coercive behaviour by domestic abusers as a crime. The bill, which has now completed its second reading, also received support from Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs on Thursday.

The backing by the four major federal parties means Canada is poised to follow in the footsteps of England, Wales, Scotland and several American states, which have all outlawed this type of behaviour.

Coercive control is a form of psychological violence that can include isolating someone from friends and family, as well as restricting their access to money, food or medicine. Abusers in these cases often make degrading comments, send barrages of electronic communications and monitor their victims through social media. Though research has shown coercive control can lead to physical violence, it is not always recognized as abuse.

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