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Coercive Control Legislation Reaches Six Year Landmark

01 February 2022

linked fingers of coercive controller

The end of 2021 saw the 6th anniversary of coercive control becoming recognised as a criminal offence as part of the Serious Crime Act. During this time, awareness of coercive control has increased considerably, and strides continue to be made in ensuring victims of domestic abuse and coercive control receive the best protections possible.

Despite this, there are some people that may not fully understand coercive control and what constitutes it.

What is Coercive Control?

Women’s Aid defines coercive control as, “ 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This can make it hard for many people to leave as they become withdrawn from support networks and feel that they will not be believed if they do come forward for support.

Questions to Consider

It can be hard to identify coercive control, so here are some everyday examples that we often see and hear:

  • Your partner may control who you see and when you see them, often getting you to come up with excuses for not meeting family and friends.
  • Your partner may criticise, humiliate, or belittle you either in front of family or friends, or in private.
  • Your partner may monitor your social media accounts to see who you are messaging or who you are friends with.
  • You may be afraid to do something because you fear what the perpetrator will do if they find out what you have done.

Raising Awareness

Despite the increased awareness that we have seen over the past few years, it is important that we continue to raise awareness of coercive control. There will be many people who are experiencing this that do not realise and will therefore not access the support that they need.

Last year saw the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Act, which aims to provide better protections for those experiencing all forms of domestic abuse.

As more of the measures are introduced throughout 2022, it is important that these are reinforced by awareness campaigns to highlight what domestic abuse and coercive control are, as well as letting people know the support that is available.

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