Coercive control has been increasingly highlighted since it became an offence in 2015 but, despite this, a recent study has found that public knowledge of coercive control is poor.
The study by the Vodafone Foundation and Hestia forms part of the “It’s Not Nothing” campaign, aiming to raise awareness and provide support to anyone affected. Coercive control is one of the most common forms of domestic abuse, so it is vital that we do all we can to raise awareness of what coercive control is and the support that is available.
Out of all the people surveyed by Vodafone Foundation and Hestia, 4 out of 10 British adults felt that their understanding of coercive control is poor or non-existent.
Despite this, over a quarter (28%) had said that they had experienced coercive control in a relationship. Further to this, around 25% said that they would not know how to help a friend, family member, or colleague that was experiencing domestic abuse.
The report also found that 23% had been isolated from friends and family, 19% had had their time monitored and 24% said they had been made to feel humiliated or degraded.
These findings show that coercive control is common, yet not everyone would know what to do if they, or someone they knew, were experiencing it.
What is Coercive Control?
Women’s Aid defines coercive control as, “...an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”
These behaviours are often designed to intimidate victims and isolate them from support networks such as friends and family, making them dependent on the perpetrator. Coercive control is often reinforced with the threat of violence that will force someone experiencing it to comply with the perpetrator.
This can make it hard for many people to leave as they become withdrawn from support networks and feel that they will not be believed if they do come forward for support.
It is often subtle and not always easily recognisable to those experiencing it, as well as friends, family members and other support networks.
Coercive control is a very common form of domestic abuse, which is why it is important that people are aware of the signs and know where to go for support.
Increasing public awareness of what it is will help more people to understand what a healthy relationship is, hopefully accessing support at an earlier stage.
Encouraging earlier intervention helps those experiencing coercive control get the help they need, reducing their risk of serious harm, and mitigating some of the long-term impacts of domestic abuse. These can include mental health issues, drug or alcohol misuse, as well as reducing the financial costs of domestic abuse – it is estimated that domestic abuse costs the UK economy £66bn each year.
Leeway offers training for organisations and businesses, raising awareness of domestic abuse and the forms it takes. Our training helps participants to spot the signs of domestic abuse and effectively respond to any disclosures. We also offer bespoke packages, as well as advice on domestic abuse policy and procedures for organisations. Visit our training page for more information.
To find out more about Leeway’s training, which includes awareness of coercive control, visit our Training Page.