Coercive control

Coercive control, By Lee-Anne Van Den Broek

There are many tactics used by those that abuse others.

Today I would like to briefly discuss coercive control and the impact it has on those living with, or surviving from domestic abuse. Coercion refers to one giving in and complying with what their abusive partner wants, knowing that there will be no peace or stability unless he does get what he wants. This is particularly so for women with children, as they will take all measures to keep their home as ‘normal’ as possible.

Coercive control is used alongside many other tactics such as isolation, mind-games, degradation, and the regulation of the ones day-to-day life. There may be control over what one wears, social restrictions, monitoring of phone calls, and showing up unannounced to your place of employment, these are among the many tactics used. The perpetrator of abuse, creates a world by which one is constantly monitored and criticised. Everything the person does is checked on, and they are forced to live in an unpredictable, ever changing world, with an ever-changing rule book.

The one living with, or surviving domestic abuse, understands that any situation can escalate or remain tense until they give in. Sadly, this even applies to sex. Many women give their abuser rights to their body, again, to keep the peace and stability within the home. The affects however, are the same emotional responses as anyone experiencing rape. Abusers love to use unresolved conflict and disruption as a punishment, when one does not give him what he wants.

Part of coercive control is pressure-release tactic, this is used as a means of psychological control. For example, any person living with domestic abuse, lives with pressure and discomfort, if the discomfort or pressure is removed, suddenly there is a feeling of relief, and sometimes even feelings of gratitude toward their abuser. Perpetrators of domestic abuse, often act out mood swings, they may display intense coercive behaviour and then suddenly snap into civil behaviour, which can also give the person living with domestic abuse, yet more feelings of gratitude toward their abuser. But this pressure-release never lasts long.

Control is ever present in abusive relationships, they are traps that limit people’s options. Abusive people learn quickly that threats to leave the relationship can be used as power, because threats to leave shift the focus from the abusive behaviour, to the one living with abuse and their behaviour-this is a fundamental abuse tactic. Women naturally take a strong interest in their relationships working, and can therefore be negatively affected by threats to leave. Using threats also silence the one living with abuse. Those living with, or surviving domestic abuse, will relate to being discouraged from all that she is and does, so that she never explores options outside the relationship.

Emotional abuse is more than momentary cruelty, it is directed at lowering the person’s self-esteem and power to do things on her behalf, and on behalf of her children. Discouragement comes from a paralysing quantity of bad feelings, and those living with domestic abuse eventually forget to take care of their own wellbeing. I urge those that have not lived under these conditions, to show understanding toward survivors and those living with domestic abuse. There are a million tactics used by perpetrators of abuse, many of these tactics rob those living with it of everything, including means by which to leave.

If someone you know is courageous enough to disclose they are being abused, please listen to them. Coercive control is just one tactic that is used and can be subtle, you may overlook it. Please remember, those that abuse others generally wear a deceitful mask, they don’t want you to know, often leaving the one living with abuse further damaged.

Van Den Broek, L. (2017). Coercive Control.
Samsel, M. (2013). Warning Signs-Abuse and relationships. Https://

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.