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Domestic Abuse: What is coercive control?

View profile for Kim Lehal
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Domestic abuse is more than violence. It is not just physical. A pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away a person’s freedom or take away their self-esteem can be more damaging than a single act of violence. Until recently this type of controlling behaviour was perceived as “minor” but since December 2015 it is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years, a fine or both.

Examples of coercive control include the following:

  • Assault
  • Threats
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation
  • Abuse used to harm, punish or frighten
  • Isolation
  • Exploitation
  • Deprivation of liberty
  • Entrapment
  • Financial control
  • Micro-regulation - monitoring every manner of day-to-day life
  • Having to abide by rules
  • Playing mind-games
  • Damaging property
  • Living a life of persistent terror

It will take an immense amount of courage to report any form of domestic abuse. However, it is a criminal offence and should be reported to the police. In addition, or alternatively, protection can be sought from the family court by way of a non-molestation order to regulate abusive behaviour and an occupation order to remove the abuser from the home or parts of the home.

To take this course of action the abuser must be an associated person which is one of the following:

  • You are or were married, engaged or in a civil partnership
  • Are or were living together (including as flat mates, partners, relations)
  • Relatives, including: parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews or first cousins (whether by blood, marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation)
  • Have a child together or have or had parental responsibility for the same child
  • Are or were in an intimate personal relationship of significant duration

If you would like to speak to someone in confidence about what you are going through, what your legal options are and your eligibility for legal aid, please get in touch.

Kim Lehal, Senior Associate - Rugby

Gemma Kelsey, Senior Associate - Banbury

We also offer bespoke support from our in-house counsellor and therapist, if you would like support please contact Liz Headley.