What is Coercive Control?

What is Coercive Control?

Coercive control is a persistent pattern of controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour including all or some forms of domestic abuse (emotional, physical, financial, sexual including threats) by a boyfriend, partner, husband or ex. It traps women in a relationship and makes it impossible or dangerous to leave.

This can have a serious impact including the fear of violence, cause serious alarm and distress and can result in a woman giving up work, changing her routines, losing contact with family and friends. Coercive control can damage a woman’s physical and emotional well-being.

Know the signs

Answering yes to any of the following questions may help you recognise signs of coercive control

  1. Do you feel like you are being isolated from your friends and family?
  2. Does he deprive you of basic everyday needs like food, electricity, heating?
  3. Do you think he is monitoring your online activity, or has installed spyware on your phone, laptop or any other device?
  4. Does he take control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what to wear, when to be home and when you can sleep?
  5. Does he stop you from accessing support services, such as specialist support or medical services?
  6. Is he repeatedly putting you down such as telling you that you’re worthless?
  7. Does he enforce rules and activity that humiliate, degrade or dehumanise you?
  8. Does he force you to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting?
  9. Is he in control of the finances and prevents you from working and having your own money?
  10. Does he threaten to reveal or publish private information about you, like private photos or videos online?

I need help

If any of these things are happening in your relationship or even if you just want to talk, theWomen’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline is available for you on 1800 341 900.

Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900 Listening. Believing. Supporting.

What evidence do I need

If you ever decide to seek protection from the Gardaí it is necessary to have a record of what has happened. This will note what has happened and help establish that it is a pattern of abuse. Examples include:

  • copies of emails, phone records or text messages;
  • evidence of abuse over the internet, digital technology and social media platforms;
  • records of interaction with services such as support services or medical records;
  • witnesses: for example the family and friends of yours may be able to give evidence about the effect and impact of isolation from them;
  • bank records to show financial control;
  • notes of previous threats made to children or other family members;
  • your diary with dates and incidents and any statements that you have made to the gardaí.

Download Coercive Control Guide