Press Release

New tool available to help prevent feminicides

The Institute for the Equality of Women and men is making a new tool available on its website to help professionals in the field detect "coercive control" more quickly. This is important because "coercive control" is usually the step that precedes feminicide.

The elaboration and availability of this tool is one of the measures resulting from the Stop Feminicide Act promoted by Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities Marie-Colline Leroy that was voted in late August.

In general, the definition of violence between (ex-)intimate partners is still often limited to the presence or absence of physical violence. This restrictive definition of a complex phenomenon underestimates the importance of so-called "subtle" violence and makes it invisible to some site actors. Indeed, the behaviours used by the perpetrator are so subtle, insidious and manipulative that often even the victims do not easily (re)recognise the situation.

Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities Marie-Colline Leroy: "It is very important to recognise this kind of subtle violence quickly because there is a strong link with the possible occurrence of further violence and feminicide at a later stage. Indeed, criminological studies show that "partner violence" cannot be considered a sudden event. It is a dynamic, progressive process that is established in each partner's behaviour and changes over time. It has been shown that many cases of feminicide are linked to controlling coercive behaviour that was not noticed as 'alarm signals' within the relationship. By developing this tool, we aim to detect as much violence against women as early as possible to hopefully stop it as soon as possible."

This form of psychological violence was absolutely unknown within Belgium. It is the Stop Feminicide Act that for the first time defines the concept of "coercive control" as "continuous or repeated coercive or controlling behaviour, causing psychological harm". Following the Act, the Observatoire Féministe des Violences faites aux Femmes (Ofvff), in collaboration with the Institute for the Equality of Women and men, has developed three tools based on a literature review but also in collaboration with professionals in the field and victims.

They are:

- A 'quick' detection tool for police officers and front-line services:

- A tool for detecting coercive control and related alarm signals for psychosocial workers and front-line workers including the police;

- An intervention tool for victims of coercive control, intended for clinical psychologists. This tool combines assessment and intervention.

The aim is to make field actors aware of the alarm signals that may precede feminicide, even in the absence of physical violence. These innovative tools make it possible to simultaneously assess the situation of victims and intervene with greater respect for their experiences.


The tools are available in Dutch and French on the website of the Institute for the Equality of Women and men, and can be used in training modules for professionals. The tool will be integrated into a broader risk assessment and management framework.