In 2004 the parliament of Tasmania enacted two new offences in the context of family violence; the first was intended to prohibit economic abuse, and the second sought to prohibit emotional abuse or intimidation. The introduction of these novel provisions constituted a movement away from conceptions of family violence that rely solely upon physical acts and, instead, treated the infliction of psychological harm as a core feature of family violence. The offences have, however, only rarely been prosecuted. This article analyses the offences, identifying difficulties in their construction and exploring the reasons why they have had such little impact. Despite the rarity of prosecutions, the new offences are significant, for they challenge traditional conceptions of the criminal law that rely on the criminalisation of causing, or threatening, physical harm. Consequently, and in the context of recent legislation in England and Wales criminalising controlling or coercive behaviour, a review of the offences that have been operating in Tasmania for more than a decade is timely.
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