What is coercive control?

by Kidd Rapinet on October 18, 2022
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Coercive control

Coercive control is an act or pattern of acts that include assault, threats, humiliation, and intimidation.  Unlike domestic violence, controlling behaviour is a form of psychological abuse where the perpetrator carries out numerous manipulative behaviours.  Each act is designed to make their victim a subordinate – often isolating them and depriving them of any means of independence.  Coercive behaviour is often subtle and harder to spot than domestic abuse.

Victims of coercive control may not be aware of or able to acknowledge the behaviour towards them.  If you think you are a victim or a friend, colleague or family member is being subjected to abuse it’s important to understand if there is a pattern of behaviour that makes that person become fearful of violence towards them or makes them so stressed that they can’t effectively carry out everyday tasks.

Spotting Coercive control

Coercive control – separating you from friends and family

Coercive behaviour can start with the perpetrator isolating their partner from friends and family.  Isolation starts with negative comments about the victim’s family and over time leads to issues around seeing them.  In nearly all cases the perpetrator comes across as the hard done by party making their victim feel that they need to protect them and be on their side.

Coercive control – monitoring your communication

Abusers always like to be in control so this will extend beyond a peek at your phone – they will monitor your social activity, who you’re talking to where you are going etc.  In extreme circumstances they may install cameras in the house or add tracking devices to your phone and car.

Coercive control – Gaslighting

This is a very subtle form of abuse which cause victims to question their own feeling and in some cases sanity

Coercive control – Constant Criticism

Constantly putting someone down is a classic coercive control to make their victim lose confidence and doubt their own abilities.

Coercive control – Controlling finances

Abusers nearly always take control over finances – it’s a way of trapping their victim so they cannot do anything without their agreement.

There are many other forms of Coercive control – we have touched on a few areas but it can also include violent threats, blackmail, regulating of your sex life, depriving you of access to help and jealous accusations.  Below is a further list of bullet points that all relate to coercive control.

Coercive Behaviour includes:-

  • Isolating a person from their friends and family and depriving them of basic needs
  • Monitoring a partner’s time, checking their communication tools using spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep
  • Preventing a person from attending work, school, college etc
  • Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless
  • Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise them
  • Forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities
  • Financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance
  • Taking wages, benefits or allowances
  • Threats to hurt or kill that person a child or family pet
  • Threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone)
  • Assault
  • Criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods)

How can you escape coercive control?

Getting out of an abusive relationship takes time, planning and emotional resilience.  Please remember coercive control is a crime.

You can start planning your escape by

  • Keeping a journal
  • Seeking help from organisations listed below
  • Planning ahead – start collecting important information such as passport, bank details, birth certificates. Either hide them or pass them to a friend or family member for keeping.
  • Prepare an emergency bag with money, a change of clothes and telephone numbers of people you need to contact in case you have to leave without your phone.

The law is on your side but abusers rarely go without a fight so if you are worried they may get violent, reach out to the police.  Coercive control is a crime and abusers can be convicted which is why it is important to collate as much evidence as possible.

Our family solicitors offer a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and we work closely with Women’s Aid and other charities to support you.

Victim Support – a charity supporting those through traumatic experiences

ManKind – support for me suffering domestic abuse

Womens Aid – download their Toolkit for people suffering from coercive control

Flag DV – Free Legal Advice Group For Domestic Violence

If you have concerns about coercive control don’t be afraid to seek help.

This article was brought to you by our family solicitor at Kidd Rapinet Solicitors Farnham.  You can speak to any of the family lawyers across our other offices in Aylesbury, Canary Wharf, Farnham, High Wycombe or Slough, using the form provided.  Please use the links provided to find more information on divorce or separation, child arrangements and other areas of family law.

These materials and content have been prepared for the benefit of their viewers/readers. They are intended for marketing purposes only and are of a general nature and do not constitute legal advice applicable to any particular facts or circumstances. Kidd Rapinet LLP and/or the author(s) accept no duty of care, responsibility or liability for any loss or damage which you or any third party may suffer as a result of any reliance or use by you or them of these marketing materials and content, except to the extent it is not legally possible to exclude such liability. If you require legal advice on your own situation, please contact us so we can discuss how we may assist.

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