Are you divorcing a partner who was coercively controlling you? Some top tips from expert Oxford mediators

What is Coercive Control? How Do You Know if Coercive Control is Happening to You? How to Deal with Coercive Control... advice from oxford based family mediators on all the important questions

Claire Colbert and Rachael Oakes are highly experienced mediators and founders of Family Mediation and Mentoring, an Oxford Family Mediation Service that serves the whole of the UK.

Both Claire and Rachael, who live in the Oxford area, have extensive experience of mediating with couples who are separating or divorcing after being in an abusive and coercive relationship. They conduct most of their mediation meetings via zoom or teams, meaning that their mediation expertise can be easily accessed, irrespective of where you are located.  

But firstly, what does coercion look like and if you find yourself in that scenario, what should you do about it?

What is Coercive Control

It’s a misnomer that domestic abuse is only physical. In fact, controlling and coercive behaviour by a partner can typically consist of a pattern of threats, humiliation, intimidation, or other abuse that’s used to harm, punish, frighten, isolate, exploit or deprive their victim falls under the term ‘coercive control’.

How Do You Know if Coercive Control is Happening to You?

Oxford Mediation experts, Claire and Rachael say that common examples of coercive control include:

  • Isolating you from friends and family so that you become dependent on your partner
  • Taking control over aspects of your daily life. This might include where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear or even when you can eat or sleep
  • Controlling your finances or restricting your access to them
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food, hygiene, visiting the doctor or dentist
  • Monitoring your time and wanting to know where you all of the time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Repeatedly belittling you, such as saying you’re worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading, or dehumanising you
  • Making threats, intimidating you and making you feel scared
  • Forcing you to do things that you don’t want to do or when you have said no.


How to Deal with Coercive Control

Dealing with coercive control can be challenging which is why the team at the Oxford mediation group, Family Mediation and Mentoring, have put together some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Here are their top tips:

1.Recognise the signs: Educate yourself on the signs of coercive control, such as isolation, monitoring, financial control, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and sexual coercion.

2.Seek support: Talk to someone you trust about what you're going through. This could be a friend, family member, or a professional such as a therapist or counsellor.

3.Create a safety plan: Develop a plan to keep yourself safe in case of an emergency. This could include having a safe place to go, packing an emergency bag, and having important documents and phone numbers on hand.

4.Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with the abuser and communicate them assertively. This could include telling them what behaviours are not acceptable and what consequences will follow if they continue.

5.Get legal help: Seek legal advice and consider getting a court injunction called a non-molestation order if necessary.

6.Take care of yourself: Practice self-care by engaging in activities that make you feel good and taking care of your physical and emotional health.

If this blog has been of interest to you have a look at some of the other Family Mediation and Mentoring blogs about recognising the signs of coercive control and how to set boundaries.

What is the Family Mediation Process?

If coercive control exists within your relationship, and you are seeking a divorce, mediation can still be a process you can use to help you agree everything.

The expert family mediators at Family Mediation and Mentoring have worked as family lawyers for over 20 years and bring this expertise to the mediation process. They will make sure that you have an understanding of the law and all the options that may work best for you in your circumstances.

Through the mediation process, they can facilitate the resolution of any issue involving family breakdown, separation, divorce financial mediation, arrangements for children and any other kind of family dispute. There are different types of mediation that might be appropriate, depending on your circumstances and these can be discussed with you during your initial individual meeting (called a MIAM). After that, meetings mostly take place together with your former partner. 

Family Mediation and Mentoring also offer child inclusive mediation which enables children to have a voice throughout the mediation process and Hybrid (Lawyer Assisted) mediation too, should you feel that it would be appropriate to have your lawyers present.

If you are interested in knowing more call the team at Family Mediation and Mentoring free on 0800 206 2258 or email them at


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