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Insight | For Individuals

What is coercive or controlling behaviour within a relationship?

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Coercive control is a form of domestic violence; however, it does not necessarily include physical abuse. This form of domestic violence leaves its victims isolated from familial relationships and their wider support network and instead leaves them secluded and reliant on the person who is inflicting acts of threats, humiliation and intimidation on them. One could liken this form of domestic violence to a scenario of a person taken hostage as the victim is trapped, confused and in fear.

Some signs of coercive control are listed below (in no particular order):

  • Financial abuse – controlling and monitoring what you spend by taking away your money or restricting the money that you have or are given
  • Monitoring who you see, when you see them, where you go, what you wear, removing the autonomy you have to see your friends or family
  • Threatening you or your loved ones with violence if you do not behave a certain way
  • Lowering your self-esteem and making you feel rubbish about yourself
  • Your partner monitoring your social media accounts and controlling the content
  • Your partner demanding your passwords to social media accounts and your devices

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence for Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship. A person found guilty of coercive or controlling behaviour will be liable as follows on conviction:

  1. Summary Offence (dealt with in the Magistrates Court) – imprisonment term not exceeding 6 months, or a fine, or both.
  2. Indictable Offence (dealt with in the Crown Court) – imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or a fine, or both.
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