Would you recognise the signs of Coercive Control

Would you recognise the signs of Coercive Control?

Would you recognise the signs of Coercive Control?

You’ve probably come across the term ‘domestic violence’ and you can probably tell the difference between physical and verbal abuse, both equally harmful.

However, there’s another type of violence that isn’t discussed as often as it should.

Coercive control is a strategy used to gradually inflict control on one’s partner which makes it difficult to leave.

While it often escalates to physical violence, coercive control is damaging on its own and remains a criminal offense in England and Wales.

According to statistics, there was a 9% increase in domestic violence in 2020: a total of 758,941 cases recorded in England and Wales, 24,856 of which were coercive control offenses. [1]

Here are the signs of coercive control to look out for:

  • Monitoring your every move – A controlling partner will make sure you have no privacy and that you remember they’re the ones in power. They might go through your phone and read your text messages or go a step further and install cameras in the house so they know where you are at all times.
  • Isolating you from friends and family – If your partner is controlling, they’ll try to isolate you from your loved ones so you have no one to rely on but them. They might try to achieve that by making you move far away from your family and convincing you that your friends don’t care about you. Whenever they call, they might tell them you aren’t interested in hanging out and hide this fact from you. They might even remove contacts from your phone and change the password to your laptop so you can’t contact anyone.
  • Controlling your financesDoes your partner prevent you from accessing your finances? Did they insist on having a joint account and changed the password so you have no control over your money? Without financial freedom, you might feel helpless and be totally dependent on your partner. They might also monitor your spending and make you feel guilty for buying necessities especially if you don’t work.
  • Restricting your autonomy – An abusive partner will try to control what you do. They might restrict your movement, for example, if your partner owes a car and you don’t, they might prevent you from using it. They might be against you going anywhere alone and if you do, they might track your movement.
  • Manipulation – One of the common ways to manipulate someone in an abusive relationship is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a tactic used to make someone doubt their memory and eventually sanity. You might find that your partner denies saying something that upset you. You might be constantly told you need help or that you’re overreacting whenever you have any objections regarding your partner’s behaviour. At first, you might feel confused and accept their version of reality to avoid disagreements. But when it escalates, you might feel like you’re going crazy and no longer know what’s true and what’s not.
  •  Putting you downWhen your partner calls you names, it’s more than just a damaging way to express their anger. Putting someone’s down in an intimate relationship is a form of manipulation that has a hidden goal: making you feel worthless and shattering your self-esteem to the point you won’t believe you deserve better.
  • Turning your kids against youIf you have children, your partner might try to turn them against you to make you feel even more powerless. They might tell lies and say that you’re a bad parent. They might also threaten to hurt your children if you don’t comply with their requests.

If you suspect your partner is abusive, try to reach out to your support network and let them know about your suspicions. If that’s not possible, try to contact a domestic violence support hotline.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help preparing a safety plan or dealing with the aftermath of abuse, contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat.


[1] ons.gov.uk 

If you are feeling pressured or need someone to speak to, contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat about how we may be able to help.

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