Coercive Control

Your significant other refuses to stop the abuse. He/she persists in an ongoing routine of psychological and emotional behavior that includes manipulation and oppression. Experts will tell you that he/she is using coercive control when with you and away from you.

Photo by / John Hairn

You get paid from your part-time employment and surrender your monies to your significant other who proceeds to lock the fridge and deny you access to your basic needs. He/she then begins to insure that you understand why he/she is denying you both work and food. Your eating habits are not the only thing being monitored, how you spend your time, who you see and talk to, even when you attend to your hygiene is being regulated by this one person who has you wrapped up in invisible chains of control masquerading as love.

The few comments you manage to hear from those who were once close friends are forgotten while the insults, disparaging lies and putdowns of your controlling loved one resound endlessly in your mind accompanied by your disillusioned imagination. Where once you had the freedom to visit a doctor of your choice you now are deprived of managing your own care. Should you seek help online there is spyware which informs your loved one/jailor of your searches and saves.

When alone you wonder at the way he responds to your needs and wants, your desires and hopes, your dreams. Domestic violence is not what is happening you tell the scared woman in the mirror. Is what you are going through even illegal you ask her. Even though moving away from family and close friends wasn’t exactly what you wanted you were easily convinced by loved one that it would be wonderful to live in the country with the nearest neighbor miles away. Besides your family has never really liked your significant other. Since last Christmas they have been silent, distant and cold towards you and your other or so you believe. He/she promised to give them the new phone number.

Photo by / Emilian Robert Vicol

Quoting a career trial attorney and PhD, Wendy L. Patrick, states, “Abusers pursue coercive control through attempts to make themselves omnipresent.”

Without your knowledge or permission your house is wired with cameras and/or recording equipment. The spying extends to private areas such as bedroom and bathroom. This pervasive intrusion into your life is intended to humiliate you, expose you, destroy what boundaries you possess. The less sure you are the easier it is to control you. If he/she can get you to question your memory or perception of things the less often he has to listen to you until you become as compliant and as unimportant as a doll. Your significant other is now free to punish, harm or frighten you.

There is no-one who is exempt from experiencing this form of abuse. Experience seems to center out women. Statistics show that 60 – 80 percent of women who seek protective assistance from abuse have at some time or other experienced coercive control. Research has also revealed that this type of abuse is not illegal in the United States and some other countries unless a crime has been committed.

There are 12 telltale behaviorisms that point towards this subtle form of abuse:

  1. Separating you from your support system.
  2. Keeping tabs on your comings and goings.
  3. They insist on always being right.
  4. They make a habit of insulting you, calling you names. and criticizing all you do.
  5. They make sure you have little funds if any at all. They cut off your access to money including refusing to let you work.
  6. They insist on implementing traditional gender roles.
  7. If children are involved this type of abuser will make sure to turn your children against you.
  8. It is important for you to understand that this type of abuser will not allow you to obtain the health care of your choice, nor will they let you choose what to eat, when to sleep and what products to use.
  9. If possible this abuser will phase out and eventually erase all need on your part for external association with family and friends including any online time you spend with them. Ongoing jealous accusations will follow any indication on your part for outside contact with others.
  10. Your sexual relationship will be on their schedule not yours including the types of activities you both will perform. These may be pictures, or videos, or multiple times per day. It will be up to them if condoms are used.
  11. Threatening your children or your pets is possible if you challenge their control.
  12. Gaslighting is one of their favorite ways to limit your independence and destroy your individuality.
Picture by / Lian30

NB. Coercive control can be an early indicator of eventual physical violence in a relationship. In Canada during the years 2015 to 2019, investigated cases of femicides included coercive behavior such as stalking and threats. On average a woman is killed by an intimate partner every six days. In Canada, coercive behavior is not considered an offense under the present Criminal Code. A victim’s only defense is to obtain a restraining order. If order is violated by abuser he/she is liable for arrest.

2 responses to “Coercive Control”

  1. Thank you for this great content. These signs you mention can hopefully help people stuck in such relationships to fully recognize the situation they are in. And as you mention in your note at the end, that it can progress to violence if not stopped in time.


  2. This is a very tough situation to be in. Without knowing it, we remain and let it grow to a point where we lose almost everything. Learning about the signs and working on our self-esteem can help us dismantle the veil of illusion, realize we are dealing with abuse, and make the conscious decision that we deserve better. Thank you for sharing this.


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