Massachusetts could join a small group of states expanding the definition of domestic violence to include acts of coercive control.

The Senate bill passed on Thursday not only amends the state’s criminal harassment law and establishes clear penalties for sharing sexually explicit images or videos without the subject’s consent, it would also expand the definition of domestic violence to include coercive control, which advocates say is at the heart of domestic abuse.

“The act of sharing intimate images without someone’s consent is a way of degrading, humiliating, holding some kind of power over another individual. So it is a form of coercive control,” said Hema Sarang-Sieminski, the deputy director of Jane Doe Inc., a local domestic violence survivor advocacy coalition.

Coercive control can also appear as isolating a person from friends and family, controlling their finances, or tracking their movement and communications. Advocates say these kinds of controlling behaviors often lead to later violence.

Currently, Massachusetts restraining orders require a survivor to provide a sworn statement in court that they were subjected to physical abuse, the threat of physical abuse or forced sexual relationships. Under the law as it is now, a person cannot receive a restraining order for other reasons, including their abuser controlling their finances to prevent them from leaving, stalking them, or threatening to take children away.

Both the Senate legislation and a similar bill passed by the House in January would allow survivors to pursue restraining orders based on controlling behavior.

“Going in front of a judge and to be able to … explain the situation and why it’s so harmful and not to have to wait until the physical abuse starts is an important step for the safety of survivors,” said Jamie Sabino, deputy director of advocacy at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

The two chambers must now work toward a final bill to send to Gov. Maura Healey. Sabino and Sarang-Sieminski said they are optimistic that Healey will sign the final version, who made domestic violence a priority as attorney general, although she has not publicly expressed support for these bills.

If enacted, Massachusetts would join California, Connecticut and Hawaii in passing legislation on coercive control. A number of other states — including Florida, Washington, New York, Maryland and South Carolina — also have bills pending in their state legislatures that would expand definitions of domestic violence.