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Coercive Control is violence. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse are all subsets of Coercive Control.

Coercive Control in Intimate Partner Violence: Relationship with Women’s Experience of Violence, Use of Violence, and Danger

How to Recognize Coercive Control

How to Recognize Coercive Control:
Monitoring activity
Restricting autonomy
Controlling money
Reinforcing roles
Manipulating kids
Controlling your body
Sexual coercion
Making threats

You’re probably familiar with some forms of domestic violence, such as physical or verbal abuse. There’s a more subtle type of abusive behavior that’s equally harmful.
Coercive control is a strategic form of ongoing oppression and terrorism used to instill fear. The abuser will use tactics, such as limiting access to money or monitoring all communication, as a controlling effort.

Anyone can experience coercive control, but it’s often grounded in gender-based privilege. Between 60 and 80 percent of women seeking assistance for abuse have experienced coercive control.
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.

1. Isolating you from your support system
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, says clinical psychologist Cali Estes, PhD.
Here are a few ways they do this:
suggesting shared phone and social media accounts for convenience
moving you far away from your family so that it’s hard to visit them
fabricating lies about you to others
monitoring all your phone calls with your family and cutting the line off if anyone tries to intervene
convincing you that your family hates you and doesn’t want to talk to you

2. Monitoring your activity throughout the day
“Abusers pursue coercive control through attempts to make themselves omnipresent,” says Wendy L. Patrick, PhD, a career trial attorney and expert in criminal law.
They do this by wiring your house with cameras or recording devices, sometimes using two-way surveillance to speak to you at home during the day.
“This invasive surveillance often extends to private areas, such as the bedroom and even the bathroom,” notes Patrick, “adding an element of humiliation to what is already a clear boundary violation.”
All of this allows them an added element of control and also serves as a reminder to you that they’re watching.

3. Denying you freedom and autonomy
Someone exerting coercive control might try to control your freedom of movement and independence.
Some methods include:
not allowing you to go to work or school
restricting your access to transportation
stalking your every move when you’re out
taking your phone and changing all your passwords

4. Gaslighting
“The abuser must always be right, and they will force the victim to acknowledge this,” says Estes. They’ll manipulate, lie, and gaslight to get their way and convince you that you’re wrong.
Say your partner comes home from work, expecting dinner to be served. They said they wanted steak before they left. When you serve dinner, they might throw it on the floor, scream, and yell that they wanted burgers, claiming that you’re too stupid to follow simple directions.
You then find yourself questioning your own memory, apologizing, and re-making dinner.

5. Name-calling and putting you down
Malicious put-downs, name-calling, and frequent criticisms are all forms of bullying behavior.
They’re designed to make you feel unimportant and deficient, says Melissa Hamilton, PhD, a criminologist and expert in domestic abuse.

6. Limiting your access to money
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:
placing you on a strict budget that barely covers the essentials, such as food or clothes
limiting your access to bank accounts.
hiding financial resources
preventing you from having a credit card
rigorously monitoring what you spend

7. Reinforcing traditional gender roles
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.

8. Turning your kids against you
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.

9. Controlling aspects of your health and body
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. You may feel as though you’re always walking on eggshells and that your body is no longer your own.

10. Making jealous accusations
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.

11. Regulating your sexual relationship
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.
“The victims may come to an ‘understanding’ that if they do not comply with their perpetrators’ demands or desires,” Hamilton says, “then they may face significant consequences.”

12. Threatening your children or pets
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:
making violent threats against them
threatening to call social services and say you’re neglecting or abusing your children when you aren’t intimidating you by threatening to make important decisions about your kids without your consent. Threatening to kidnap your children or get rid of your pet

How to get out
Coercive control is a pernicious form of domestic abuse 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:
Maintain communication with your support systems whenever possible. This is important regardless of your abuser’s displeasure, says Patrick. You should also make sure family and friends have all of your contact information and check in on a regular basis.

Call a domestic violence hotline regularly. Keep track of where your nearest public phone is and periodically weigh your options with a professional. Our resource guide can provide you with more options.

Practice how to get out safely, and practice often. If you have kids, teach your kids to identify a safe place, such as a friend’s house or the library, where they can go to for help and how to call the police.

Have a safety plan. “When deciding to leave, victims should have a plan regarding where to go and who to stay with,” Patrick adds, “recognizing that the initial period of separation might be the most dangerous in terms of an abuser attempting to reconcile — through both legal and illegal conduct.”

🚩🚩🚩 “Red flags” include someone who:

● Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
● Early in the relationship flatters you constantly, and seems “too good to be true.”
● Wants you all to him- or herself; insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
● Insists that you stop participating in hobbies or activities, quit school, or quit your job.
● Does not honor your boundaries.
● Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
● Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails, and texts you throughout the day.
● Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.
● Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others.
● Has a history of abusing others.
● Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on his or her former partner; for example, “My ex was totally crazy.”
● Takes your money or runs up your credit card debt.
● Rages out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.

Abuse is never the fault of the victim and it can be hard for many reasons, including safety, to end the relationship. If you experience these “red flags,” you can confide in a friend or reach out for support from a domestic violence advocate. If you believe a friend or relative is being abused, offer your nonjudgmental support and help.

Control tactics, such as using the legal system to repeatedly drag women through expensive litigation in the Family Court or launching a defamation lawsuit, or smear campaign, in a brazen attempt to silence or discredit their partner's words, and preserve their own reputation, is rife. Abusers are highly adept at reversing the victim and aggressor roles.

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