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What is Coercive Control?


What is Coercive Behaviour/ Coercive Control in a relationship?

Coercive Control and Behaviour is abuse that makes a victim dependent by isolating them, depriving them of independence, exploiting them, and regulating them and their day-to-day behaviour.

Coercive Control is a criminal offense and is also considered to be a form of domestic abuse. It creates a sense of fear in a victims life. Some experts say that coercive control is similar to being held hostage.

What are some examples of Coercive Actions?

Controlling and Coercive Behaviour

Some of the common examples of coercive actions or behaviour are mentioned below;

> Depriving them of basic needs such as food, clothing, etc.

> Depriving access to any medical or support services

> Not allowing them to go to school, work or college

> Monitoring the the victims phone usage statistics, even going as far as to go through the victims phone and social media, changing their passwords

> Isolating the victim from friends and family. This leads to the victim being deprived of any support system which could have allowed them to escape their abusive situation

> Controlling their finances, for example having access to all of their bank accounts and monitoring their spendings, or even forcing the victim to put their money into a shared bank account, or disallowing the victim from spending their own money.

> Taking control of the everyday life of the victim such as who the victim is seeing, what the victim is wearing, when he or she sleeps, where he or she goes etc.

> Restricting access to their transportation vehicle (this could be their car, or even stopping them from using public transportation such as a bus)

> Stalking every move of the person/victim once he or she leaves the house

> Humiliating, Insulting, Degrading the victim

> Making Threats or intimidating the victim

Unfortunately, it seems to be becoming more common for Controlling and Coercive abusers to utilise technology to control their partner. It was reported that tools such as phone trackers, monitoring phone usage and social media were becoming a very common factor in coercive control cases.

Statistics on Coercive Control

By the year ending March 2019, the offenses of coercive control as recorded by the police were around 17,616 as compared to the year ending March 2018 which was 9,053.

A March 2018 ONS Survey shows that 1 in 3 of all domestic abuse victims (including childhood abuse by family members, abuse by partners etc etc) were men. However an ONS survey in the same year pertaining to Controlling and Coercive Behaviour (CCB) had show that by the end of December 2018, around 97% of defendants prosecuted coercive and controlling were male.

Coercive Control Statistics

According to the domestic abuse data found on analysis of Merseyside Police records it was revealed that around 95% of coercive control victims are women, but only 74% of perpetrators are male. This is a much lower number than that in the ONS data (which spans all of the UK, compared to the Merseyside data). This may be attributed to the fact that CCB is severely underreported, and therefore statistics may not be as accurate. Additionally, many may not have sufficient education on what CCB actually is, which we will expand on later in the article.

Also, it was found that 75% of the coercive control cases occur within the context of an intimate partner. According to the same report, 63% of coercive control cases included reports of physical violence.

How Much Awareness Is There on Controlling and Coercive Behaviour?

What is Coercive Control?

Additional to the fact that Controlling and Coercive Behaviour is often underreported, the charge rates are also lower than many other forms of domestic abuse.

Even in cases where perpetrators were charged with domestic abuse, CCB was the principal offense in only 53% of the cases.

Campaigners are aiming for police and other judicial services to have more awareness on Controlling and Coercive Behaviour, as well as the general public. This would mean that CCB can be more easily spotted, and that victims of CCB are less ashamed to come forward.

Is Coercive Control a Crime?

Is Coercive Control a Crime?

Yes, in England and Wales, as of 29th December 2015, coercive control became a criminal offence. It can therefore be reported to the police.

The average custodial sentence for Coercive Control and Abuse was 23.6 months.

What is the difference between coercive and controlling behaviour?

Controlling Behaviour refers to a wide range of actions or that make a person dependent by isolating them from other sources of support. This ultimately allows the abuser to exploit the victim for personal gain.

Controlling Behaviour is to deprive a victim of required independence, means to escape and the regulating their everyday behaviour.

Whereas, Coercive Control refers to an act of threats, assaults, intimidation, humiliation, or any other type of abuse that can cause harm, frighten or punish the victim

Coercive Control is a criminal offense and is also considered to be a form of domestic abuse.

Common examples of controlling and coercive actions are listed here, earlier in the article.

Some further examples examples of actual or implied physical abuse are mentioned below:

  • Threats to harm a child, or a pet, if the victim does not comply with the abusers wishes.

  • Threats to withhold contact with a child if the victim does not comply with the abusers wishes.

  • Threats to kill, or hurt the victim

  • Assaulting the victim if they do something the abuser does not “agree” with

  • Criminal Damages including destruction of household goods, throwing things,

  • Threats to publish intimate and private information

Note: This article is not legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.


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