Domestic Abuse: What is coercive and controlling behaviour?
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In 2015 a new criminal offence of controlling and coercive behaviour was created – but what is coercive and controlling behaviour, how can you spot the signs it may be happening to you or a loved one and where can you get help?
The definition of coercive and controlling behaviour
Coercive behaviour 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 an intimate partner, former partner or family member.
The behaviour seeks to make isolate the person and strip them of their independence, resistance, and chance of escape and regulate their everyday behaviour.
Behaviours that may be coercive and controlling are, but are not limited to:
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 result of this type of domestic abuse can make you feel as though you are trapped in the relationship and held captive by the abuser – despite, potentially, there being nothing physically stopping you leaving the relationship.
Coercive and controlling behaviour can include elements of physical abuse; however, no physical abuse needs to have occurred for an offence to have taken place.
What to do if you are suffering from abuse or are worried about a loved one?
Derbyshire Constabulary has officers dedicated to dealing with instances of domestic abuse; however, frontline officers are also taught to spot the signs of abuse.
If you are a victim or are concerned about a loved one, neighbour or colleague and want free, confidential advice and support call 08000 198 668 for those in Derbyshire and 01332 985 111 for those in Derby city.
How to keep internet activity secret
As described above, an element of coercive and controlling behaviour may include the abuser checking your phone or computer.
If you are accessing support websites then this is best done on a computer that the abuser does not have access to, at work or a local library for instance.