When I say the words “domestic abuse” what comes to mind? Most people will probably think of physical violence or perhaps emotional abuse, but have you ever heard of coercive control?
Coercive control is a form of abuse that is designed to isolate the victim by removing their support structures, so they become reliant on the abuser. The abuser will use the threat of violence as well as intimidation and humiliation to gain a sense of control over their victim. The abuser will chip away at their victims’ self-esteem over long periods of time. It is likely that the behaviour will become so normal that the victim does not even realise that the way they are being treated is wrong.
Coercive control is defined as:
“Ongoing psychological behaviour, rather than isolated or unconnected incidents, with the purpose of removing a victim's freedom”
Here is a list of common sings of coercive control:
Isolating you from friends and family
Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
Monitoring or controlling your time
Monitoring your online communication tools or spyware
Taking control over aspects of your everyday life. Such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
Repeatedly putting you down
Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
Controlling your finances
Making threats or intimidating you
If you notice you are being treated in any of the ways listed above, remember that it is not your fault and that you absolutely do not deserve to be treated this way.
Healthy, loving relationships do not involve elements of control
Removing yourself from an abuse relationship can be very challenging as usually the short-term benefits are very minimal and the short-term challenges, such as living arrangements, children, finances can be very problematic to change. Despite this, no one deserves to live in an abusive relationship and there are a lot of organisations that can help, some are listed below.
Counselling can also be a very useful tool to help make sense of your experiences and to look at making positive changes for the future.
If you are in immediate danger call 999. If you think you are experiencing any of the behaviours listed above, and it feels safe to do so, get in touch with an organisationbelow.
www.womensaid.org.uk 0808 2000 247. firstname.lastname@example.org
www.mankind.org.uk 01823 334244
www.victimsupport.org.uk 0808 1689111
This website lists all of the organisations local to Devon and Cornwall: