Safeguarding: Coercive control

Did you know that two women are killed each week as a result of domestic violence? These cases are sometimes linked with coercive control. Coercive control can affect any gender or sexuality – 13% of callers to the Mankind Initiative helpline are seeking support for this kind of abuse. According to an article, written in 2019 on, 60-80% of women seeking assistance for abuse have experienced coercive control.

According to the BBC website, coercive control became illegal in 2015 under the offence of ‘controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.’ To be classed as criminal, it must cause someone to fear that violence will be used against them on at least two occasions or cause them serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their usual day to day activities.

According to the BBC website, in September the government made learning about coercive control at school compulsory. The difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive one isn’t always obvious – especially when the lasting impact isn’t as visible as a bruise, but it can be just as damaging.

According to the Women’s Aid website, some examples of coercive behaviour are :

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Depriving you of basic needs such as food
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communications 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 such as saying you’re worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you