Understanding Coercive Control in Relationships

What is Coercive Control? Many have lived in a relationship for years and thought it was normal.

Under the newly approved reforms, coercive control is now classified as a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. This decision follows in the footsteps of New South Wales, making Queensland the second state in Australia to recognise coercive control as a stand-alone criminal offence.

  • Coercive control, a term prevalent in discussions on domestic abuse, denotes a subtle yet grave form of manipulation and abuse within relationships.
  • It encompasses various tactics, manipulation, and psychological abuse aimed at dominating the victim’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Recognising Signs of Coercive Control:

  • Isolation: Victims are often cut off from their support networks, rendering them reliant solely on their partner.
  • Threats: Abusers employ intimidation tactics, instilling fear to maintain control over the victim.
  • Gaslighting: Manipulating reality to make the victim doubt their perception and judgment.
  • Economic Control: Taking charge of finances to foster dependency and hinder escape.

Impacts on Victims:

  • Emotional trauma, health consequences, disempowerment, and difficulties in future relationships are common outcomes of coercive control. Some victims eventually turn to alcohol and substance abuse as a way of self soothing.

Available Support Services:

  • Victims can seek assistance from professionals via the Hotline for guidance and emotional support 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or talk to a Counsellor they can help direct the path forward with you.
  • Seeking aid from loved ones can also provide crucial assistance and emotional solace during such challenging times.

Legal Implications and Prevention Strategies:

  • Legal frameworks vary across states regarding the categorisation and treatment of coercive control.
  • It is crucial to educate oneself on the dynamics of healthy relationships and be vigilant about early warning signs of abuse.
  • Setting and respecting boundaries, taking time to understand potential partners, and avoiding rushing into relationships are pivotal preventive measures.

Additional Information sourced from- https://www.act.gov.au/community/domestic-family-and-sexual-violence/types-of-domestic-and-family-violence#Coercive-control-or-controlling-behaviour

Coercive control or controlling behaviour…

Coercive control is not a separate form of family violence. Each perpetrator’s patterns of behaviour towards victim-survivors is controlling behaviour or ‘coercive control’.

The controlling behaviours can:

  • become more intense over time
  • be used to limit a person’s ability to seek help.

Perpetrators who feel entitled to get their way are more likely to use multiple forms of violence, including sexual violence.

Examples include:

  • isolating someone from their family, friends and community
  • supervising or controlling actions or decisions, for example insisting on knowing the victim-survivor’s location and who they are with
  • limiting access to things like transport and money
  • controlling the victim-survivor’s body and appearance by monitoring things like food, sleep and exercise, or telling them what they can or can’t wear
  • extreme jealousy, criticism and sometimes punishment for alleged ‘failures’.
  • manipulating a person so they feel confused and start to doubt themselves; this is sometimes called ‘gaslighting’
  • denying or minimising a person’s claims of abuse and acts of violence
  • blaming the person for what has happened, claiming they brought it on themselves
  • expressing ownership over family members as a form of control
  • threatening to harm the person, their loved ones, their pets or their belongings if they talk to anyone about their experiences, or seek help
  • threatening self-harm if the person talks about their experiences, or seeks help
  • threatening to take legal action against the person.

Conclusion: Coercive control may manifest subtly, but its detrimental effects on victims are profound. Recognising the signs, seeking support, and implementing preventive strategies are essential steps towards combating this form of abuse in relationships.