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Violence against women and children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.


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ANROWS hosts events as part of its knowledge transfer and exchange work, including public lectures, workshops and research launches. Details of upcoming ANROWS activities and news are available from the list on the right.



ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.



To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


Theoretically-informed awareness-raising initiatives to unveil the invisibility cloak of coercive control


This research will focus on awareness-raising initiatives about coercive control in intimate partner relationships. Characterised as a pattern of behaviours used by an intimate partner to micro-regulate the other into submissiveness, coercive control is a subtle, complex and difficult-to-detect form of domestic violence (DV; Stark & Hester, 2019; Williamson, 2010) and can result in lifelong psychological and physical harm (Robinson & Myhill, 2021). In Australia, the cost of DV against women was estimated at $22 billion in 2015–16 (KPMG, 2016). Currently, there is a gap in knowledge regarding evidence-based and theoretically-informed awareness-raising initiatives addressing coercive control.


This research aims to contribute to the literature on DV by 1) examining the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of the Queensland community in relation to coercive control; and 2) examining effective messaging to educate the public about the definition and potential harms of coercive control. Findings will inform the development and evaluation of a public education campaign to encourage individuals to take actions in identifying coercive control, and for victims and survivors of abuse to seek support towards physical and psychological safety (i.e. increased self-efficacy).


A mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative research design will be used to understand the general community's conceptualisation of coercive control, develop messages tailored to the Australian community, and evaluate the effectiveness of these messages.


As Queensland undertakes considerations for the criminalisation of coercive control as a standalone offence, it is timely to explore signposting initiatives to educate the public about the phenonmenon before legal reform is potentially implemented. Given the nuances of coercive control and complex theoretical debate regarding its definitions and conceptualisations, it is important to gain further understanding about people's knowledge of and attitudes towards coercive control, in order that messages may specifically address beliefs held by the Australian community, encourage message acceptance, and reduce the risk of backlash.

Funding Body

PhD project with Queensland University of Technology

Project start date

February 2022

Expected completion date

February 2025
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