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Coercive Control – Can you see the signs?

What is coercive control?

Coercive control is when a person with whom you are personally connected with, repeatedly behaves in a way which makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated, humiliated or scared.

The following types of behaviour are common examples of coercive control:

  • isolating you from your friends and family
  • controlling how much money you have and how you spend it
  • repeatedly putting you down, calling you names or telling you that you are worthless
  • monitoring your activities and your movements
  • threatening to harm or kill you or your child
  • threatening to publish information about you or to report you to the police or the authorities
  • damaging your property or household goods
  • forcing you to take part in criminal activity or child abuse
  • isolating you from sources of support 

Coercive control is a criminal offence. If you, a family member or a friend, are in a controlling relationship, you can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline for 24 hour free advice and support on 0808 8010 800.

Know the signs

The victim may be in constant fear of their partner’s reactions in everyday life. It can be described as a fear of doing something that will upset them or a feeling of ‘treading on eggshells’ around them.

Friends and family of the victim may notice an uncharacteristic change of behaviour. They may become isolated, withdrawn, depressed and have a lower self-esteem. 

Watch our campaign film to see examples of controlling behaviour:

Survivors describe the ‘drip, drip’ effect of coercive control which builds slowly and often escalates towards physical abuse over time. 

“It steps up over the years, it starts off gradually controlling you and then you get sucked in even more. It’s difficult to explain. It’s not until you step back and you’re out of it, you think why did I let anyone do this to me? I’m a confident person; why did I let someone take over my life?”

It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to subject another person to coercive control. It became a specific criminal offence as part of the Serious Crime Act 2015 and came into force on 29 December 2015. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger contact the police.

Talk to us now

If you or someone you know is a victim of coercive control, we can give you the advice you need.

Get in touch with Live Fear Free advisors free of charge by phone, online chat, text or email.

This is control: Campaign