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Are you a victim of Coercive Control?

As a family solicitor over the last few months, more and more people that I have had initial consultations with are using the term ‘coercive control’. Coronation Street are running a storyline about coercive control at present with character Yasmeen Nazir being the victim of coercive control at the hands of Geoff Metcalfe. Geoff has made Yasmeen, who was once a strong independent woman, into an emotional wreck by threatening and humiliating her with intimidation and punishments. Geoff pushed Yasmeen to breaking point and she finally lashed out against his abusive behaviour which has resulted in her being put behind bars! Anyone who is a Coronation Street fan will have most likely been shouting at their TV screen for Yasmeen to get out of the abusive relationship at the beginning when Geoff started turning Yasmeen against her family and controlling her finances. An abuser of coercive control usually builds you up by showering you with compliments and gifts and then once they have gained your trust and confidence, they start to slowly break it down along with your support network and the abuse accelerates.

Women’s aid have campaigned and succeeded in making coercive control a criminal offence, but the reporting of such an offence needs to come from the victim and not friends and family. It is hard for someone on the outside to assist someone suffering from coercive control and help them realise the effects of their partner’s behaviours. Women’s aid describes coercive control as an “invisible chain and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action.”.

How do you know if this is happening to you?

These are typically some examples of coercive control:

  1. Moving away and or isolation from friends and family;
  2. Monitoring what you are doing at all times and/or questioning where you have been;
  3. Using spyware to monitor you online or your location;
  4. Depriving you of basic needs such as food and money;
  5. Taking control of aspects of your life such as what you wear, where you can go etc;
  6. Controlling your finances;
  7. Making threats and intimidating you if you do not do what they say;
  8. Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you.

The list above is just a few examples and usually the perpetrator, like in Coronation Street, is charming and makes out to others that they are a perfect husband/wife which makes it difficult for the victim to get out of the abusive relationship if they have also managed to get your family under their spell who are oblivious to the abuse you are suffering.

Women’s aid has videos from victims of coercive control on their website if you are worried you may be a victim which may be helpful. They also have a free helpline or you can call them on the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247.

Coercive control can equally be experienced by both men and women. I have come across this with a couple of male clients recently who have been victims of coercive control at the hands of women and the control is still continuing when their relationship has ended when agreeing the time the child or children spend with both parents. If this is the case you may wish to consider obtaining a Court Order to determine the time you spend with your children to take away the control from the other party.

If you would like further information in relation to leaving a coercive relationship or if the abuse is continuing following separation then please get in touch with Consilia’s Family Law Solicitors for a free initial discussion.

Sarah Manning

Senior Associate Solicitor

Consilia Legal