The term coercive control is still relatively new from a legal point of view in some countries it has only recently been admitted into law as a crime.
In March 2019 we published an article in regards to a British woman Sally Challen who had her murder conviction quashed and a retrial ordered due to previous evidence with-held that her husband had used coercive control which led to her to mental state breaking down when she killed her husband. She has now been released from prison and is now currently on bail awaiting a new trial this time for manslaughter.
Coercive control is like being held hostage by the very person who is supposed to love you and care for you, not someone who is free to abuse you until you are left confused and afraid.
The term coercive control is something that was developed by Evan Stark who sought to explain the range of tactics used by those who are working to entrap their partners.
Below are 12 signs that you are being controlled in a coercive manner.
1. Your partner is always questioning your actions.
You are never free to just get up and go and do something you want to do. You are made to explain yourself to your partner, such as why you want to do it, how long you will be, what are the benefits etc as a few examples.
2. You’re not allowed to see specific friends of yours.
You find yourself cut off from your friends, and if you are allowed to see them it is only when your partner can be present so they can see all you do and hear all that is said. They will make you choose between them and your friends and they can become violent towards you if you try to choose your friends.
3. Your privacy is constantly being invaded on.
There are boundaries but only going in the direction of the abuser. They can’t be asked any questions about what they are doing. They will break down any boundaries you may have had before you met them, nothing at all will be private anymore such as attending doctors’ appointments as they will insist on attending with you, they will check your phone as another example.
4. You’re always on a time limit when out with friends or family.
You are given a time period for when you are out of the house, grocery shopping is one of the main ones as this gives them some level of satisfaction that you will have no room for any extra activities. They know that reducing your time with family will hurt you deeply, but at the same time they know issues around family time will alert your family there is something wrong, so they give you time but only just enough not to raise suspicions.
5. You have restricted access to your own finances.
They take away access to your own bank account, they monitor your spending even though it is your personal account, not a joint account, they will tell you how much you can spend and if you overspend you have to account for this and you are working earning your own money.
6. You’re always being put down.
They talk down to you and humiliate you in public and then when you get home, they rip you apart for some imagined so-called bad behavior. The aim of this is to make you feel as worthless as possible which has a massive impact on your mental health.
7. You’re constantly being accused of cheating.
Despite being constantly watched and living your life watching the time in case you are late you will be accused of cheating. You could only be back home 5 minutes late from doing the grocery shopping and it is because you have cheated. Another example is a male/female friend of ‘both of you’ visits the house and your partner is not there but when they find out about this ‘unscheduled visit’ you will be accused of sleeping with them.
8. Your partner is always trying to intimidate you.
They use intimidating behavior to make you do things without question. They build up this fear within you that you get to the stage where you cease to ask questions and you just do as you are told as you fear the consequences if you don’t.
9. You cannot wear what you want to wear.
You are only allowed to wear what they say you can wear; you may not even be allowed to shop for your own clothes and shoes. They will say it is because they have better taste than you do, not true, they just want to control you even more than they already do. They may dress you in clothing that you are far from comfortable in just to humiliate you more than they already do.
10. Your partner threatens to reveal private things about you.
To keep you controlled they may take personal pictures of you that you would be devastated for anyone to see, and should you ‘get out of line’ according to them, they threaten to post those pictures online or show to your family and friends. This is a common tactic and is often referred to as revenge porn.
11. Your partner literally tracks you.
Some partners have been known to install tracking devices on vehicles, install a hidden tracking app on phones and even covert cameras in the home so they can monitor what you are doing whilst they are out at work.
12. You’re forced to do things a specific way for fear of angering your partner.
Everything in its place, everything done in a certain way, examples of this are towels must align on the rack or be folded in a certain way. Clothing hanging in the closet color co-ordinated, cans in the kitchen cupboards in alphabetical order and labels facing front and if they find something out of place their anger is shown by verbal abuse and sometimes including physical violence.
When you are treated as property that is owned and you are not allowed to be your own person that is domestic violence, coercive control takes every part of who you are away and you end up with no sense of who you are anymore.