Coercive Control in the Law: Origins and Implications of SB 1141

Pallavi Dhawan -  Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office

This workshop will discuss the origins of the bill in the Penal Code, its current iteration in the Family Code, and implications for survivors and attorneys in both family and criminal courts, including practical examples of a DVRO petition and case briefs. Coercive control presents as a complex pattern of domination and control and can involve all facets of a victim’s life. Coercive control in its original iteration was defined as gendered (male upon female), but it can manifest in other settings when one partner carries more power than the other and exploits that imbalance in the relationship. An abuser can wield power over the victim’s sexual/reproductive choices, children, and immigration status. At its core, coercive control is a liberty deprivation that replicates broader power imbalances such as those based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. These imbalances allow the abuser to exploit the victim’s already marginalized status in our larger society.  


  1. Explain the origin and development of SB 1141.
  2. Identify how to recognize non-physical forms of abuse.
  3. Determine the correlation between control and lethality.
  4. Integrate best practices for application of the new law.


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