Coercive control is an ongoing pattern of power and control psychologically used against victims and often mistaken for care; it is not.
Isolation is the one aspect of how a perpetrator grooms a victim in order to abuse them without the knowledge of friends, family, society or in fact the victim themselves. Isolation is easily mistaken for the perpetrator wanting to cuddle up, hug and kiss their victim, to spend quality time together and generally show how very much in love they are. The reality of isolation is that it is the key ingrediant to any abusive relationship. It allows the perpetrator to continually abus the victim without interferance from frends and family. Isolation is what lets victims become brainwashed into thinking their perpetrator is the only person in the whole wide world that they can rely on. It’s coercive control, it’s not about care at all.
A caring partner would have no need to prevent partners from seeing friends or family, even in a relationship you should still have time in your life for both. Isolation allows the perpetrator to abuse the victim to the point where it is so difficult for them to simply leave the relationship, even if they wanted to. They have been manipulated into believing that the perpetrator is the only person who cares and loves them. This is untrue and the perpetrator will say this in order for the victim to spend more time with them and abandon family and friends to prove there love to them. Of course, in a healthy relationship, you don’t have to prove anything to your partner because they should love and respect you for who you are.
Isolation is one red flag that all victims of domestic abuse should be made aware of and look out for because that is where the abuse starts, coercive control and not physical abuse. This is where society seems to lose it’s focus on domestic abuse because it still believes that domestic abuse is all about physical abuse, the victim provoking or saying the wrong thing to order the perpetrator. This is untrue. Domestic abuse is not a one officident, perpetrators don’t get angry or lose their temper because they thrive on power and control.
The frequency and severity becomes worse, once it starts, it doesn’t stop and can eventually result in death. That is the harsh reality of domestic abuse.
We still seem to be living in a society that isn’t really aware of the most dangerous aspect of the complex cycle of domestic abuse. It isn’t necessarily the physical abuse that a victim may endure but the psychological and coercive control instead. Victims are people, not possessions, they should be cared for, not controlled. Society doesn’t see a perpetrator stalking a victim but instead they see it as care, love and something that is romantic; stalking is not romantic. It’s about maintaining that power and control over the victim from the moment they isolate them right up until when the victim has found the strenght and courage to leave the perpetrator.
The perpetrator doesn’t know how to cope with rejection and they still want to hold onto that control. They begin to stalk and harass the victim, giving them false hopes and promises of changing and saying it will never happening again but they are just saying meaningless words that the victim wants to hear but the perpetrator is not actually meaning what they say. The victim has been controlled, manipulated and brainwashed they are still isolated from friends and family, still isolated and still alone, that they believe them and sometimes the victim goes back to the partner. This isn’t the victims fault. They aren’t aware that they are in an abusive relationship or that they are being abused, society is failing them because there is a lack of education and awareness on this sensitive subject because we live in a world that would rather bury its head in the sand than acknowledge the issue and act upon it.
In order to help victims and therefore prevent more people becoming victims of domestic abuse we must acknowledge that this is a real life issue that happens every single day. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will become a victim at some point during their life time, then there are our young people who will become victims, gay victims, lesbian victims, mature victims; it knows no boundaries, anyone can be a victim and anyone can be a perpetrator. The worrying thing is, if we can’t acknowledge the early warning signs from the beginning of the relationship how can we protect the victims? How can we encourage victims to speak out when society still doesn’t seem to understand the complex cycle or the devestation it leaves behind? There is still so much more that needs to be done in order to protect all victims of domestic abuse.
We hear of new laws, yet how many people really know what warning signs to look out for, what coercive control is or what impact financial abuse has on a victim. Victims will have little, if any at all, faith in speaking out if they are talking to someone who simply doesn’t understand the complex cycle. We need to be focusing on the issue in hand, domestic abuse, working together in order to stand united and prevent others from becoming victims and to reach that aim, we need to go back to basics. Awareness and education is paramount, education is prevention not a deterant, we need to see action against perpetrators but for victims not just aimless words and false promises from the Goverment. They encourage victims to speak out yet in the other hand they take away so many lifelines from victims; Legal Aid, closing down refuges and cutting much needed funding in order to give support and aftercare. How is this fair to victims and how on earth is this showing the next generation that we won’t tolerate domestic abuse.
Coercive control doesn’t only affect victims of domestic abuse, it also has an impact on children too. Children witnessing doemstic abuse might not be physically harmed but psychologically, they are. They will have divided loyalties between their parents, they won’t understand what is happening around them and will blame themselves; coercive control. Taking away their freedom too, turning them against the victim of domestic abuse and being made to side with the victim. Dragged through the family courts being used as a tool and weapons in a very dangerous world of domestic abuse. Coercive control is the type of abuse that leaves scars behind that society doesn’t see let alone understand; just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The scars that coercive control leave behind is purely devestating and ones that can prevent victims from moving forward in their life, no matter how hard they try.
Coercive control destroys your soul, it intimidates you, frightens you, scares you, manipulates you, eats away at your self esteem, confidence and worth making it extremely difficult to move forward. Lack of trust is left behind by coercive control making it hard to know who to trust in your life, this can have a huge impact on victims moving forward with regard to applying for that job – how can they with no self worth or confidence, how can they form, build and make new friendships let alone relationships without being able to trust others.
Not everyone is a perpetrator but the devestating impact of coercive control will make victims believe they are. It is so important that the recognition of coercive control is made because that is how domestic abuse starts. It starts with isolation, manipulation, jealousy, possessiveness – all the things that society cannot see but the victim can feel the effects of. Coercive control is so very easily mistaken for care when it is clearly about power and control. Perpetrators telling victims who they can and cannot speak to, how to dress, humiliation, constant put me downs, the fear of walking on eggshells and “doing the wrong thing” is just part of the complex cycle.
Society sees the charmer when the victim lives with the controller. Coercive control is about the perpetrator undermining and depriving the victim of so many things, including social contact with the outside world, depriving them of basic human needs such as food, clothes and money. Deprivation of rights to privacy, self respect, autonomy and equality. It stops victims being who they are, it changes them into someone they are not and something the perpetrator wants them to be; it allows them to exist, not live. It takes away humanity, freedom of speach, freedom of life, it is most dangerous because it’s a form of abuse that isn’t easy to recognise, it leaves no visible marks, it’s easily confused with care and this is how perpetrators get away with this behaviour for so long. It’s not only important to have recognition of coercive control but it’s equally important to highlight the impact it has on a victim even if they have left the relationship and how it still controls them. This is why it’s vitally important for all victims of domestic abuse to have support and aftercare because how they cope and deal with the trauma they have been through, determines how they will will have the confidence to move forward and take the driving seat and be in control of their own life again.