What is coercive control and how to recognise the signs

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour that an abuser uses to dominate their partner and limit their freedom. It can include physical abuse and emotional abuse, but often, coercive control is more subtle.

Here are some key points about coercive control:

·     Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse that creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life

·     It is a strategic form of ongoing oppression and terrorism used to instil fear, and the abuser will use tactics such as limiting access to money or monitoring all communication so that they can control their partner as much as possible

·     Coercive control can refer to any pattern of oppressive, dominating behaviour that uses harm to steer your thoughts, feelings, and actions

·     It can include acts of intimidation, threats, and humiliation, and it creates an unequal power dynamic in a relationship

·     Coercive control can happen in any type of intimate relationship and includes behaviours such as insulting the other person, making threats, exerting financial control, and using sexual coercion

Recognizing signs of coercive control in a relationship can be difficult, but there are some common behaviours to look out for. Here are some examples.

1. Controlling behaviour: Coercive control is a pattern of controlling and manipulative behaviours within a relationship

2. Isolation: Abusers use coercive control tactics to control their partners through isolation

3. Intimidation: Coercive control can involve the use of threats or force to steer your thoughts, feelings, and actions

4. Humiliation: Coercive control can involve the use of humiliation to make you feel inferior

5. Threats: Coercive control can involve the use of threats to make you feel obligated to engage in certain behaviours

6. Making you feel guilty: Coercive control can involve the use of guilt to make you feel responsible for the abuser's behaviour

7. Gaslighting: Coercive control can involve the use of gaslighting to make you doubt your own perceptions and memories

8. Monitoring your activities: Coercive control can involve the abuser monitoring your activities, such as your phone calls, texts, and social media use

9. Restricting your access to money: Coercive control can involve the abuser restricting your access to money or controlling your finances

10. Making you feel dependent: Coercive control can involve the abuser making you feel more dependent on them

11. Taking away your freedom of personal choice: Coercive control can involve taking away your freedom of personal choice

12. Creating an unequal power dynamic: Coercive control creates an unequal power dynamic in the relationship

13. Limiting your freedom: Coercive control takes away another person's freedom and ability to have a positive sense of self and worth

14. Eroding your autonomy and self-esteem: Coercive control can erode your autonomy and self-esteem

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control in a relationship, it's important to seek help and support. There are resources available to help victims of domestic abuse and we can provide you with the information. The existence of coercive control doesn't mean that you can't use mediation to help you agree the issues involved in getting divorced but its suitability needs to be carefully discussed. If we can help, call us on 0800 206 2258 or email us at hello@familymandm.co.uk

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