Christine Cohen

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Listening, Advocating & Getting Results

April 24, 2024
For Immediate Release
Contact: Garnet McLaughlin – – 860-304-2319

Sen. Cohen Votes to Pass Legislation to Prohibit Coerced Debt

State Senator Christine Cohen, Vice-Chair of the Banking Committee, voted Wednesday to pass legislation meant to prohibit coerced debt, a form of economic abuse, in which an offender makes another person liable for indebtedness as a means of control.

Senate Bill 123, An Act Concerning Coerced Debt, originated in the Banking Committee and passed the state Senate on Wednesday. It will now head to the House for consideration during the final two weeks of this year’s legislative session.

“Domestic violence takes on many shapes and sizes, and the psychological, physical and financial effects linger with the survivor for a very long time. Financial abuse often leaves a survivor with affected credit, which creates a substantial barrier to housing, employment and more, making it even more difficult to leave an abusive situation,” said State Senator Christine Cohen. “Connecticut continues to build upon protections for survivors, and this will serve as a complement to existing law and relief mechanisms for identity theft. I am personally very proud of our work here, as coerced debt is something that has affected someone very near and dear to me, and I hope that no other Connecticut resident will have to endure this.”

Senate Bill 123 defines coerced debt as debt in the name of a domestic violence victim, incurred by force or under duress, threats, intimidation, or undue influence.

The bill provides relief to victims of coerced debt by creating a process by which creditors can be required to pause their collection activities. The proposal provides these victims a legal means to establish that their debt is coerced and ask a court to relieve them of their financial obligation to pay it. Claimants like debt collectors could then seek to hold abusers accountable for any unpaid debt.

Coerced debt often includes tactics like forcing a partner to open a credit card or overspend using an existing card. An abusive partner may also coerce a victim into borrowing money to pay for a product or service and then deny them access to their purchases. This can include products like vehicles or services like utility payments.

These practices often damage the credit scores of domestic abuse survivors, restricting their independence and creating barriers to housing, employment, and educational opportunities.

Economic abuse is often reported by domestic violence survivors, according to the members organizations with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. For instance, 90% of the survivors served by the Susan B Anthony Project in Torrington have experienced some type of economic abuse with between 65% and 75% reporting types of coerced debt.

This abuse is not exclusive to Connecticut. A 2019 survey by the Center for Survivor Agency & Justice found that 52% of 1,823 women who called the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported experiencing coerced debt.

Connecticut joins the states of New York and North Carolina in considering policies to prevent this abusive behavior and these bills follow similar laws adopted in California and Minnesota.


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