What is Coercive Control
Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is 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.
This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action. Experts have likened coercive control to being taken hostage as the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.
How do you know if this is happening to you?
Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
- Monitoring your time
- Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
- Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
- Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
- Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
- Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
- Controlling your finances
- Making threats or intimidating you
The Law on Coercive Control
As of the 29th December 2015 coercive control was officially recognised as a crime with the introduction of Coercive Control Offence within the Serious Crimes Act 2015.
The new law protects people who are in an abusive relationship by recognising that coercive control and threatening behaviour can have serious effect on someone’s daily life and activities.
If you think you are being abused or know someone who is being abused go to our get help now pages to find out more information about local and national support services.
Report Coercive Control
If you think you are at risk of Coercive Control, we recommend you report it to us. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, always call 999.
You may also choose to speak to an officer at your local Police station.
Alternatively, if you’re in a controlling relationship and need support, call the National Domestic Abuse helpline for free on 0800 970 2070. Or visit and make contact on Womensaid.org.uk