What is Coercive Control?Freyja
February 27, 2023
It is a misconception that domestic abuse can only be physical as it can take multiple forms. So, what is coercive control? Coercive control is 'a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation, and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten' (women's aid). This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent and isolate them from support. In fact, around 60-80 percent of women seeking assistance for abuse have experienced coercive control. The United Kingdom has made coercive control illegal, however, this is still not an illegal offense in countries such as the United States. You can refer to the Coercive Control Collective to see how to engage in state and local efforts.
Key aspects of Coercive control:
- Isolating you from friends and family. For instance, moving you far away from your family, fabricating lies about you to others, monitoring your calls to family and convincing you that your family hates you.
- Depriving you of basic needs such as food.
- Monitoring your time.
- Denying your freedom and autonomy. For example, not allowing you to go to work or stalking you. This can also include dictating who you can see and what you can wear.
- Name calling and verbal abuse.
- Humiliating, degrading or dehumanizing you.
- Monitoring you via online communication tools.
- Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services.
- Controlling your finances. This can include (but not limited to) putting you on a strict budget, limiting your access to bank accounts, preventing you from having a credit card or monitoring your spending.
- Reinforcing traditional gender roles.
- Turning your kids against you.
- Controlling aspects of your health and body.
- Jealous accusations
- Making threats or intimidating you.
What to do if you are under coercive control?
- Try to maintain your communication and support systems whenever possible.
- Call a domestic violence hotline regularly. Know where your nearest public phone is.
- Have a safety plan.
Here are some domestic abuse hotlines and resources:
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