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Telling the wrong stories: Rough sex, coercive control and the criminal law

Date:11 FEB 2022


The relationship between ‘rough sex’ and the criminal law has recently been subject to considerable scrutiny. Much of this debate has focused on male defendants in homicide cases who have claimed the death of the female victim resulted accidentally from consensual rough sex. As a result more commonplace occurrences of rough sex that do not result in death have received limited attention. In particular the role that rough sex plays in abusive relationships whether and how this is criminalised has been largely overlooked.

This article addresses this gap by illuminating the role that rough sex can play as both an instrument and a manifestation of coercive control. We problematise the ‘stories’ that are told about rough sex and coercive control in the criminal law. Three constructions of ‘rough sex’ have historically been applied in the case law: ‘Violent sexual assault’ ‘deviant sexuality’ and ‘accidental injury’. The introduction of a new offence of ‘controlling or coercive behaviour’ was an opportunity to uncover a new more accurate narrative of abusive rough sex. We argue however that...

Read the full article here.