While the recognition of coercive control as a form of domestic violence in New Jersey is a positive step towards protecting victims, it also presents certain challenges for the court system. Identifying and proving coercive control can be intricate due to its non-physical and often subtle nature. Here are some additional challenges the court may face in determining what constitutes coercive control:

  1. Subjectivity of Behavior: Coercive control often involves subtle and subjective behaviors, such as manipulation, isolation, and financial intimidation. Different individuals may perceive these actions differently, making it challenging to establish a standardized set of criteria for determining coercive control.
  2. Lack of Concrete Evidence: Unlike physical violence, coercive control may leave little tangible evidence. Courts are accustomed to dealing with visible injuries or documented incidents, but proving psychological and emotional abuse can be more challenging. Victims may struggle to provide concrete evidence of coercive control, relying instead on their own testimony and witness statements.
  3. Grooming and Gaslighting Tactics: Perpetrators of coercive control often employ grooming and gaslighting tactics, making it difficult for victims to recognize and articulate the extent of the abuse.
  4. Cultural and Societal Variations: Different cultural and societal norms may influence what is considered acceptable behavior within a relationship. Determining coercive control requires sensitivity to these variations, ensuring that the court does not inadvertently dismiss certain actions due to a lack of cultural awareness.
  5. Defensive Strategies by Perpetrators: Perpetrators of coercive control may employ defensive strategies, such as portraying themselves as victims or downplaying their behavior. This can lead to a complex process of distinguishing between genuine concerns and manipulative tactics, requiring a careful and nuanced evaluation by the court.
  6. Difficulty in Victim Disclosures: Victims of coercive control may struggle to disclose the extent of the abuse due to fear, shame, or a deep sense of dependency on the perpetrator.
  7. Influence of Technology: Coercive control can extend into the digital realm through cyberstalking, surveillance, and control of online activities.
  8. Financial Control: In situations where the perpetrator has control over the finances, the victim may not be able to secure funds to hire an attorney or pursue the matter in court.  If the victim’s hands are tied financially, they will continue to be victimized with no way out.

Addressing these challenges will be crucial for the effective implementation of the new legal provisions in New Jersey. Courts may need to undergo training, collaborate with mental health professionals, and remain vigilant in adapting to the evolving understanding of coercive control to ensure that victims receive the protection and justice they deserve.