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What is coercive control?

It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to subject you to coercive control. Coercive control is when a person you are personally connected with repeatedly behaves in a way that makes you feel controlled, isolated or scared. This could include isolating you from friends and family, controlling your finances, monitoring what you do and where you go, putting you down and making you feel worthless or threatening to harm you, your child or your property. There is not a definitive list of behaviours, as the abuser will use various means to establish controlling or coercive behaviour.

Controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship is defined in Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 as controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship which causes someone to fear that violence will be used against them on at least two occasions; or causes them serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their usual day-to-day activities.¹

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How coercive control affects children and young people

There is very limited research about the impact of coercive controlling behaviour on children and young people, however, in recent research Dr. Emma Katz outlined her key findings about the impact of coercive controlling behaviour:

  • children are victims/survivors of coercive control – they are harmed by it and can also act to resist it
  •  in addition to safety, victims of coercive control need support to gain/regain their confidence and sense of empowerment – this applies to children as well as adult victims
  • as coercive control is increasingly recognised, children’s experiences of it must not be left invisible
  • like adult victims/survivors, children need safety from coercive control, help to recover from it, and justice for the crimes that have been committed against them

Anyone affected by these forms of violence and abuse should be able to access help and support when they need it and every case should be taken seriously. The Live Fear Free Helpline is a 24 hour helpline for women, children and men experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence or other forms of violence against women on 0808 80 10 800.


¹Home Office, Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship Statutory Guidance Framework December 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/482528/Controlling_or_coercive_behaviour_-_statutory_guidance.pdf

 

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