What is Coercive Control and Gaslighting

What is Coercive Control and Gaslighting

What is Coercive Control and Gaslighting

In this article we will take a look into exactly what is Coercive Control and Gaslighting?

Coercive control is defined as:

“Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim” – Women’s Aid (2020)


“a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another”
(Home Office, 2013).

What are the signs of coercive control?

  • Isolating you from your friends or family
  • depriving your basic needs
  • monitoring your time
  • monitoring any form of communication you may have
  • controlling your everyday life such as where you go, what you wear and who you see
  • depriving you from medical services
  • controlling your money
  • degrading and humiliating you repeatedly

Is Coercive Control a crime? …… ABSOLUTELY YES!

Coercive control became a crime under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015. The Home Office has stated that controlling or coercive behaviours within a relationship are classified as a category of assault without injury known as 105a as a crime of ‘Violence against the person’.

Coercive control is a relatively new crime.

Many people do not actually recognise that it is a crime and that it should be reported (Stark, 2013). Stark emphasises that a victim of coercive control may become and feel captive in an unrealistic world. This can be formed by the perpetrator leaving the victim to feel trapped with confusion and fear.

Statistics on Coercive Control?

  • 17,616 offences of coercive control were recorded by the police in the year ending March 2019, compared with 9,053 in the year ending March 2018. (ONS, 2019).
  • 1,177 offences of coercive and controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship where a prosecution commenced in the year ending March 2019.
  • 97% of defendants prosecuted for coercive and controlling behaviour in the year ending December 2018 were male. (ONS, 2019).

A study by Barlow et al, 2018 identified that common abusive behaviours included coercive control, 63% of coercive control case featured physical violence.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a dangerously subtle form of one-to-one control, often so much harder to spot because it wears the charming face of your friend, lover, colleague or relation – and it’ll tell you it only wants the best for you.

Gaslighting is a term which refers to convincing someone they’re wrong about something when they are not. This includes frequently disagreeing with someone and refusing to listen to their point of view. Refusing to hear what your partner has to say- even if they are in the RIGHT is also gaslighting which shows an unwillingness to be proven wrong. (Relate, 2020).

Effects of Gaslighting?

Gaslighting can be a real form of abuse when it is done repeatedly over a long period of time.
The effects of this is making someone doubt their own ideas and even question their sanity.
Negatively affect a person’s confidence and self-esteem
Someone may deliberately gaslight their partner as a way of control

Is Gaslighting dangerous?

Yes, Yes, Yes….. it undermines a person sense of self-belief, leads to feeling insecure or less confident and they then believe they must be in the wrong if they are being told so.

Need some help and support regarding coercive control or gaslighting?

We hope that you have found this article useful. We do offer support tailor-made for children, teenagers, adults, families and couples.

If you feel like this is something you may benefit from, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or call us on 07801 079555 and discover how we can help.


  1. Barlow, C., Walklate, S., Johnson, K., Humphreys, L. and Kirby, S. (2018) Police responses to coercive control. Published online: N8 Policing Research Partnership (156 of the cases studies were listed as S.76 coercive control offences, the data studied were from January 2016-June 2017.)
  2. Myhill, A. (2015) ‘Measuring coercive control: what can we learn from national population surveys?’ Violence Against Women. 21(3), pp. 355-375
  3. Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2019) Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2019. Published online: ONS
  4. Stark, E. (2013). The Dangers of Dangerousness Assessment. Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, 6(2).

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