10 Signs that you might be experiencing coercive control.

Uncategorized Oct 05, 2021

Did you know:


1 in 4 women in England experience domestic abuse in their life.


Every 3 days a woman dies due to domestic abuse.


On average it takes a women 5 years to leave an abusive relationship.


These are shocking statistics that got even worse during lockdown.


Domestic abuse is defined as an incident or patterns of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of sexuality or gender (Government definition)



Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse and can be difficult to spot especially when you’re in the relationship. It’s an insidious form of abuse that happens slowly over time.


It’s a form of Psychological abuse where the perpetrator (abuser) carries out a pattern of controlling or manipulative behaviour in the relationship and exerts power over the victim. The victim is left doubting themselves, with low levels of self-esteem and then becoming even more dependent on the perpetrator.


Here are 10 signs that you may be experiencing coercive control:



  1. Becoming isolated from your friends and family – This is something that happens gradually over time and it’s not until you do some reflection that you realise what’s happened. By isolating you from your friends and family the abuser is gaining total control over you with no one else to influence you or see what’s happening.


Has your partner been criticising your friends or family at all? If you’re still in the early stages of your relationship you might have just brushed it off and not thought much of it. But is it becoming a pattern? Are they constantly criticising them – if so, this is definitely a red flag to be aware of.


Is your partner claiming that a friend or family member has an issue with them or has criticised them? Have you stood up for your partner and defended them and started distancing yourself from those people? This is a subtle and manipulative way of isolating you from those closest to you.



  1. Being Gaslighted – Again this is a really subtle and manipulative form of coercive control where you end up doubting yourself and questioning your own thoughts and feelings – to the point where you start to think you’re going mad!


Has your partner accused you of saying things or doing things that you haven’t - but by the end of the conversation or argument you start doubting yourself?


Has your partner ghosted you for periods of time and you’ve been unable to contact them, or they haven’t responded to any communication from you?


This type of behaviour can cause you to become obsessed with them and willing to do almost anything to have contact with them again which can be extremely harmful to your mental health. You’re left feeling hurt, rejected, upset and confused amongst other things.



  1. Being criticised all the time – Not only does this behaviour make the abuser feel good about themselves, but it also makes you lose your confidence and doubt yourself. You then look to your partner to give you that validation which leads to them having even more control over you.


Is your partner continually criticising you and putting you down no matter what you do?

Do you constantly feel like you’re not good enough for them?

Do you feel like you can’t do anything right?

Are you doubting how you look?




  1. Your activity’s being monitored – Abusers like to be in control all the time so they will isolate you so that no one else can influence you and keep track of everything you’re doing. It can get to the point where it’s just not worth the effort to go out and see anyone.


Does your partner continually check your mobile phone to see who you’re speaking to or communicating with?

Do they monitor your social media?

Do they take an excessive interest when you’re going out and like to know who it’s with, how long you’ll be and where you’re going?



  1. Feeling like you can’t do what you want anymore – Again this can be a very subtle form of abuse. It won’t necessarily show up as you partner telling you that you can’t do something. It could be something as subtle as saying they’re worried about your safety or that they miss you and can’t bear to be apart from you.


Have you stopped doing all the activities and hobbies that you used to?

Have you stopped going on girls’ nights out?

Is it too much effort to do the things you really want to do and easier just to keep the peace?



  1. Your partner has control of your finances – This might appear to start innocently with the suggestion of a joint bank account but can gradually lead to total control over your finances. Again, this is the abuser’s way of gaining complete control over you so that you are totally dependent on them for money, and they can keep track of what you’re doing and spending money on.


Do you have to account for everything you spend to your partner?

Do you have any control over the ‘joint’ finances?

Do you have to request money from your partner?



  1. Your partner controls your choices – This is effectively where your partner is telling you exactly how to live your life, so you end of becoming even more dependent on them. You start to lose your own identity and become incapable of making your own decisions.


Does your partner tell you what to wear and how to dress?

Do they tell you where you can go?

Do they tell you what to eat?

Do they tell you when you should go to bed?



  1. Your partner makes jealous accusations – When we were younger, we might have thought that a partner’s jealousy was a sign that they cared - but actually it’s just another way of exerting control. It can actually be the case that the abuser is actually doing the thing that they’re accusing you of. Narcissists often make jealous accusations when they feel their partner is getting more attention than them as they like to be the centre of attention themselves.


Is your partner constantly jealous of who you’re spending time with?

Are they accusing you of things that you’re not doing such as having an affair?

Are you worried about ‘upstaging’ your partner?



  1. Your partner threatens you with violence - The abuser will often use the threat of violence as another means of getting their own way so that you’re intimidated and scared of them and pressured into doing what they want. They may even threaten to hurt your family.


Are you scared of your partner?

Have they threatened violence if you don’t do what they want? 



  1. Your partner controls your sex life – Again this is all about power and controlling every aspect of your life. They will determine when you have sex, where and how.


Does your partner withhold sex from you?

Do they force you to do things that you’re not comfortable with? 

Do they determine when you have sex?



Realising that you’re in a toxic relationship can be traumatic for you. Leaving that relationship can be difficult and takes time to get the strength and to plan it. At all times you must put your safety first and this could mean having all the necessary steps in place before you actually leave. It can feel like a massive mountain to climb because of the abusive relationship you’ve been in where all your power and control has been stripped from you.



Make a note and keep any evidence of the coercive control for future reference – coercive control is a crime so it’s important you have the evidence. Have an escape plan so that you can leave at any moment – have a bag packed with the basics of what you need that you can access quickly, know exactly where you will go, how you will get there and inform the person beforehand that you may turn up without notice.



There are many support groups that you can reach out to depending on where you are in the world. In the UK you can seek support from:


  • Women’s Aid.
  • Refuge
  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline.


If you’re in a toxic relationship that you want to leave, then please get in touch and we can have a chat about how I could support you or signpost you to the support that would be best for your circumstances.


Email me at [email protected]



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