Skip to main content

Invisible Bars: Adapting the Crime of False Imprisonment to Better Address Coercive Control and Domestic Violence in Tennessee

Posted by on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 in Notes, Volume 71, Volume 71, Number 2.



On average, three or more women are murdered by their intimate partners in the United States every day. Despite the now well-known correlation between coercive control—the strategic use of oppressive behavior to control primarily female partners—and intimate partner homicide, most states continue to focus their criminal domestic violence laws solely on physical violence. As a result, state laws often fail to protect victims from future and escalating violence. Focusing on Tennessee law and drawing from the work of Evan Stark as well as the United Kingdom’s Serious Crime Act of 2015, this Note proposes adapting the preexisting crime of false imprisonment to create the first comprehensive criminal coercive control statute in the United States.


Alexandra Michelle Ortiz
J.D. Candidate, 2018, Vanderbilt Law School; B.S., 2014, Cornell University.