Child to parent coercive control: an Australian case study

A/Prof. Kate Fitz-Gibbon1

1Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Child to parent violence, also referred to as adolescent family violence, has been the point of increasing academic, policy and practice attention in recent years. Despite this, the recent focus on the criminalisation of coercive control in Australian state and territory jurisdictions has largely failed to consider the use of coercive control by children in the family home. Despite the push for increased criminal law interventions in this space, there remains limited understanding of the nature of coercive control used by children within the home and help seeking behaviours of parent victim-survivors of coercive control by a son or daughter. To address the invisibility of this form of domestic and family violence in current policy discourses, this paper draws from the findings of a national survey examining Australian victim-survivors experiences of coercive control. Of the 1392 survey participants, 56 participants had experienced the use of coercive and controlling behaviours by their son and/or daughter. Of these, the majority (n=45) were mothers who experienced a range of coercively controlling behaviours including physical violence, threats to harm, digital surveillance, and verbal abuse. Presenting a largely qualitative analysis of these findings, this paper provides new insights into the nature and impact of child to parent coercive control and unique insights into help seeking behaviours among parents who experience this form of domestic and family violence.


Kate Fitz-Gibbon is Director of the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre and an Associate Professor in Criminology in the Faculty of Arts, Monash University (Victoria, Australia). Kate conducts research in the field of family violence, femicide, criminal justice responses to family violence, and the impact of criminal law reform in Australia and internationally. Kate has advised on homicide law reform and family violence reviews in several Australian and international jurisdictions.


Dec 08 2021