What is Coercive Control?
This type of abuse can force the victim to become isolated from their support network and reliant on someone who inflicts acts or patterns of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation — often compared to a hostage-like situation.
This type of abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age or gender; however, younger women mainly in their first relationships tend to be more at risk.
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Guidance on Coercive Control:
- The legal definition of coercive control
- What are the signs?
- Examples of coercive control
- Examples of gaslighting
The law defines coercive control as controlling behaviour that has a “serious effect” on a partner, causing them to fear violence at least twice or causing them serious distress.
If your partner is always making snide comments decreasing your self-esteem, then that is abuse. Additionally, if your partner is monitoring whom you see, what you wear, where you go and taking away your ability to see your friends and family that is coercive control.
Women’s Aid gives one example, where a man told his partner that she had to wrap cheese in a particular way before putting it in the fridge. If she did it wrong, he would scream and shout at her.
The point is she was frightened of his response, they explain. “He didn’t hit her, but she knew he would see it as a symbol that she didn’t love him and she was trying to wind him up. It seems like a minor thing to you – but it has a big impact on them.”
Some examples of this type of abuse from Women’s Aid are as follows:
• Taking control over aspects of everyday life,
• Being stopped from working or going to school/college/university,
• Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless,
• Having money taken away or controlled,
• Depriving you of basic needs, such as food and drink,
• Monitoring your time,
• Being isolated from friends and family,
• Having your social media or other online communication accounts monitored or controlled,
• Depriving you access to support services, such as medical,
• Being told what to wear,
• Being threatened with violence if they do not behave in a certain way,
• Having threats made to loved ones or pets.
Gaslighting is when someone exhibits abusive behaviour and then pretends it didn’t happen – or even switches blame on to the victim.
- Your abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen.
“I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me.”
- Your abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events.
“You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”
- Your abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts.
“Is that another crazy idea you got from…?” or “You’re imagining things.”
- Your abusive partner makes your needs or feelings appear unimportant.
“You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”
- Your abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what occurred.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.”
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