What are some of the signs of coercive control?

Isolation – controlling who you can speak to, monitoring you online and/or offline, checking up on you, monopolising your time, creating drama when you want to go out preventing you from making your own choices about when you go out, preventing access to transport and limiting your time with others.

Pressuring you to do things you don’t want to do – making you feel bad and guilt tripping you to do things, policing what you wear

Inserting in relationships – taking over relationships, edging you out of your relationships, telling people not to speak with you

Criticising and verbal abuse – undermining you, shouting, unpicking you, accusing you, name calling, putting you down, using information you have shared against you

Gaslighting you – distorting the reality to upend and manipulate you

Threats – using physical size to intimidate, using gestures, threatening family, friends or pets (those you care about the most), breaking things, punching walls, driving fast to intimidate, picking up weapons whilst talking with you, threatening to self-harm or commit suicide.

Charm – putting you on a pedestal, being overly attentive, buttering you up (to knock you down or manipulate), using charm to disarm and when it suits to manipulate or just in front of others to create a false impression.

Rules and Regulation – setting the rules to live by (just applies to you and not them), dinner on the table at a certain time, dress a certain way, hair a certain way, micro management of your life.

Disrespect – disrespecting you in front of others, interrupting you when you are with others, not listening or responding to you, taking your money, logging into your accounts, refusing to help you with shared household affairs, work or children, saying you cause the abuse or that you are to blame, lying to you, cheating on you, embarrassing you in front of others, sharing secrets, being jealous, monopolising your time, breaking promises or agreements, appropriating or denying you access to resources required for personhood and citizenship.

Stalking – following you, monitoring you online/offline, appearing in places you go to, watching you, using others to watch you.

Physical abuse – punching, kicking, slapping, pinching, burning, pinning you down, putting hands around the neck, biting, pulling hair, shoving.

Economic abuse – controlling finances, preventing you from working, making you ask for money, giving you an allowance, taking your money, making you work multiple jobs whilst they do nothing, not allowing you access to family income, putting debt in your name.

Sexual abuse – forcing you to have sex, pressuring you, making you have sex with others, taking pictures or videos, forcing you to watch porn, demeaning you sexually, demeaning you sexually in front of others, calling you names.

Sadly and paradoxically, it is the victim who is often blamed and shamed for the perpetrator’s behaviour, as if they are somehow complicit due to the familiarity of the setting where the abuse occurs. Most perpetrators are serial and hone their tradecraft over time by practicing on different victims.

We must focus on their behaviour and shift the responsibility back on to them. It is much more about what they do, how they do it and how they get away with it. Reframing the victim’s predicament as hostage-like and calling it coercive control helps dispels this misconception and ensuring serial perpetrators are on a register, just like sex offenders, would create the seismic cultural shift needed.

Are you in an abusive relationship? Take the quiz

Advice if you are experiencing abuse?

Advice if you believe someone else is being abused

Support our campaign for a register to better protect future victims

For more information https://www.oxygen.com/martinis-murder/debra-newell-white-collar-wives-speak-out-how-to-avoid-con-men