COERCIVE control is now considered to be a form of abuse and was enshrined in UK law in 2015.
It was dramatised in Radio 4's 2016 long-running series The Archers. Here we fully explain what it is.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control describes a pattern of behaviour by an abuser that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.
It can include threats, humiliation, manipulation, degradation and intimidation and generally monitoring or controlling the victim's day-to-day life.
Coercive control may also involve an element of "gaslighting".
Gaslighting is using mind games to make the victim doubt their sanity.
It can also lead to the abused person becoming isolated and dependent on their abuser.
The term was developed by forensic social worker Professor Evan Stark, now retired, who gave evidence in Sally Challen's appeal.
What does the law say about it?
The law classes coercive control as a form of domestic abuse.
It became a criminal offence in December 2015 under section 76 of the Serious Crime Act.
And it can be punishable with up to five years in jail.
What are the signs to look out for?
The signs of coercive control include, but are not restricted to:
- Constantly checking up on you
- Questioning behaviour
- Threatening to harm or kill you or your child
- Setting time limits when you are out with friends
- Monitoring your activities
- Putting you down in public
- Allowing you no privacy
- You are living in fear of upsetting them
- Damaging your property
- Controlling how you spend your money
- Controlling how you dress or style your hair
What is the penalty for a coercive control conviction?
The CPS can start criminal proceedings against an abuser.
Coercive or controlling behaviour carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, made to pay a fine or both.
It is defined in law as: “An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a victim.”
In 2015, the then-minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, Karen Bradley, said: “No one should live in fear of domestic abuse, which is why this government has made ending violence against women and girls a priority.
“Our new coercive or controlling behaviour offence will protect victims who would otherwise be subjected to sustained patterns of abuse that can lead to total control of their lives by the perpetrator.
“We are sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you and that emotional and controlling abuse will not be tolerated.”
How do I report coercive control?
According to the Rightsofwomen.org.uk website, you can report coercive control to the police.
The website reads: "The police may give your abuser a warning or they may arrest him for a criminal offence.
"If the police have enough evidence they will refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’). The CPS can start criminal proceedings against your abuser.
"If he is found guilty of an offence he can be sentenced up to 5 years in prison or made to pay a fine or both."
The advice adds: "The court may also make a restraining order to protect you.
The court can make restraining orders even if your abuser admits that he is guilty, if he is convicted (found guilty) even if he is acquitted or not convicted of the crime."
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