OLYMPIA – Survivors of domestic violence in Washington state could be protected against severe emotional abuse through the civil protection order system through the passage of legislation sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) and Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland).

SB 5845 and its companion HB 1901 would allow victims to file for protection against coercive control, which is a pattern of behavior that attempts to control a victim through the threat of physical, emotional or psychological harm. It includes manipulation through isolation, intimidation, threats, online stalking or economic control, among other tactics.

“Research has shown that coercive control is widespread but often goes unrecognized despite the severe harm it often causes,” said Dhingra, chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. “It’s time our culture and our laws catch up with the science.”

CDC data reveals that 40 percent of both men and women reported experiencing coercive control at some point in their lives.

“Often, people say that this invisible abuse is even more frightening than physical force, but they don’t know that coercive control is a form of domestic violence,” said Goodman, chair of the House Public Safety Committee. “This bill would help provide the tools and knowledge that survivors need to protect themselves.”

The proposed bill follows major 2021 legislation streamlining, updating and improving access to the courts for civil protection orders.

The 60-day legislative session began on Jan. 10.