This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Not all domestic violence is physical, and some types of abuse can be hard to recognise. In fact, some people can live in an abusive relationship for years and not realise they’re experiencing abuse.
Coercive control is a type of domestic abuse that can be harder to identify than some other types of abuse. It refers to a pattern of behaviours used by an abuser to control their partner and create an uneven power dynamic.
Coercive control generally involves manipulation and intimidation to make a victim scared, isolated, and dependent on the abuser.
You may have heard this term in the news and media a lot recently. This is because there has been a push to make coercive control illegal under reforms to domestic violence laws across Australia. Currently, Tasmania is the only Australian jurisdiction that has laws directly addressing coercive and controlling behaviours.
Here’s a look at 12 major signs of coercive control, along with some resources that can help you get out of a bad situation.
A controlling partner will try to cut you off from friends and family or limit contact with them so you don’t receive the support you need.
Here are a few ways they do this:
The act of monitoring, tracking and harassment through technology devices can magnify a victim’s sense of imprisonment and isolation within a relationship, previous relationship or everyday life. Tech abuse makes victims feel as though their perpetrators are omnipresent in their lives and that there’s no escape – even after a relationship has ended.
Someone exerting coercive control might try to control your freedom of movement and independence.
Some methods include:
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.
Learn more about Gaslighting.
Malicious put-downs, name-calling, and frequent criticisms are all forms of bullying behavior.
Controlling finances is a way of restricting your freedom and ability to leave the relationship.
Some ways they’ll try to exert financial control include:
Regardless of the type of relationship you have, your partner may try to make a distinction between who functions as the man and the woman in the relationship.
They’ll attempt to justify that women are homemakers and mothers, while men are the breadwinners. Using this argument, they may coerce you into taking care of all the cleaning, cooking, and childcare.
If you have children, either with the abuser or someone else, they may try to weaponize the children against you by telling them you’re a bad parent or belittling you in front of them.
This attitude can create a rift in the relationship between you and your kids, and may make you feel powerless.
They’ll monitor and control how much you eat, sleep, or time you spend in the bathroom.
Your abuser may require you to count calories after every meal or adhere to a strict exercise regimen. They may also control which medications you’re allowed to take and whether you go for medical care or not.
Jealously complaining about the amount of time you spend with your family and friends, both on and offline, is a way for them to phase out and minimize your contact with the outside world.
They might also do this in an effort to make you feel guilty.
Abusers might make demands about the amount of times you have sex each week and the kinds of activities you perform. They may also demand to take sexual pictures or videos of you or refuse to wear a condom.
According to Hamilton, if physical, emotional, or financial threats don’t work as desired, your abuser may try to use threats against others in an attempt to control you. For example, your kids or pets may be at risk.
This can look like:
Coercive control is a pernicious form of domestic violence that entraps you in a hostage-like situation. Regardless of the history with your abuser, even if it included some happy moments, you don’t deserve this treatment.
Getting out of an abusive relationship can be complex, even more so when children are involved. But with a bit of planning, you can make a safe exit from the situation.
Here’s what you can do:
“With the onset of COVID-19, we have seen a triple-digit increase in our Coercive control services. The ease of purchasing trackers and spyware software from retailers and Online is driving an increase in the use of smart technology. We are increasingly seeing perpetrators being creative in how they track and control their victims.”
“We need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, our field assessment team are meeting daily to share their experiences to ensure we are not only disrupting Coercive control but eliminating it.”
CEO at Protective Group
A recent report by The Australian Institute of Criminology conducted on awareness of coercive control within the context of abusive intimate relationships.
This study examined the characteristics of violence and abuse reported by 1,023 Australian women who had recently experienced coercive control by their current or former partner. The most frequently reported behaviours were jealousy and suspicion of friends, constant insults, monitoring of movements and financial abuse.
“The most common behaviours reported by women experiencing coercive control included jealousy, interfering with their friendships, as well as monitoring their movements, insulting and belittling them and financial abuse. However, many women also experienced physical and/or sexual violence during this period,” said Mr Morgan.
Among women who experienced coercive control, many reported very severe forms of violence. For example, 27 per cent reported non-fatal strangulation, and 23 per cent said they had been assaulted with a weapon.
AIC Research Manager and co-author Hayley Boxall said that this study found that women who had experienced coercive control were unlikely to seek help from formal or informal sources if they had not also experienced physical/sexual forms of abuse.”
Continue reading the report on Experiences of coercive control among Australian women.
We not only eliminate the immediate threat of Technology Abuse, we also through education prevent the future chances of it returning.
Through our group of brands we offer a professional, specialist service for people experiencing Technology Abuse with a particular focus for individuals experiencing Domestic and Family Violence abuse via technology.
Our Technology Abuse services are focused upon disrupting the abuse, reducing further risk and optimising safety. We are able to provide you or your client with enhanced safety and peace of mind through an individualised service to assess technology abuse and the implementation of immediate interventions tailored to their circumstances.
We bring together years of first-hand experience to stop the abuse then educate the user through first hand experience of how to prevent becoming a victim in the future.
Key principles of our Technology Abuse services:
-Personalised advice and practical demonstrations provided for clients as to how they and their children can use technology safely without fear of further abuse
-An electronic sweep and methodical visual inspection of the client’s car and other possessions for tracking devices that may have been put in place by a perpetrator
-Where possible, immediate interventions to disrupt tracking by perpetrators, their access to the client’s personal information and accounts
-Where forensic IT assistance is required, we can organise this through a third party for an additional fee
-This service may be paired with additional measures to enhance client safety such as our wearable personal duress alarm, the Tek Safe watch*
*Additional charges apply.
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