Coercive control – what is it and are you a victim of it?

Coercive Control
Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight, the film that gave us the term “gaslighting” because her character is controlled and humiliated by her husband

Coercive control – what is it and are you a victim of it?

In 2010 Sally Challen hammered her husband, Richard Challen, to death, and she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to eighteen years. But on 28 February 2019 the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial. Why? Mrs Challen, 65, says her husband controlled and humiliated her for forty years.

Are you being coercively controlled?

The person doing it wants you to think you are in the wrong and they are in the right. So it can take victims a lot of courage and resolution to do anything about it. If you think you may be a victim please contact the police. Also make sure to ask an experienced family lawyer for advice.

What is coercive control?

If you’ve experienced coercive control you are likely to be fearful, and you may even feel as if you’re going mad. Here are some examples:

  • Use and threats of violence to get you to do things you don’t want to
  • Sexual coercion
  • Belittling you to make you feel worthless
  • Criticising your appearance and telling you what to wear
  • Threats to tell the authorities or friends and families about you
  • Threats of harm to your child, friends, family or pets
  • Controlling your communications and social media, and distancing you from your friends, family and co-workers
  • Financial control
  • “Gaslighting” – accusing you of doing things you haven’t done, or not doing things you have
  • Damaging your property – smashing your phone or laptop
  • Denying you food or other essential requirements
  • Forcing you to take part in criminal activity or child abuse

Victims can feel confused and trapped and as if they are hostages. They can form an unhealthy dependency on the perpetrator. Anyone can be a victim – young or old.

Are you “personally connected”?

The next question is, does your relation to this person fall within the following list?

  • Romantic or sexual relationship
  • Engaged or married or in a civil partnership
  • Divorced or previously engaged
  • Family member, if only by marriage, and living together
  • Previously in an intimate relationship, and living together
  • Sharing a child/parental responsibility

This of course includes same sex relationships.

If you do not have any of these connections you are still protected under the Protection from Harassment Act. Contact the police and take advice from an experienced family lawyer.

What can victims of coercive control do?

The police and/or the civil Courts can protect you. Coercive control became a criminal offence in December 2015 and can lead to imprisonment. Contact the police or an experienced family lawyer, or report domestic abuse and coercive control to:

What can the police do to help?

It’s up to the police to obtain evidence but if you can keep a diary and any texts or emails that’s a help. But please don’t endanger yourself by collecting evidence yourself.

What can family law and the Courts do to help?

Make a non molestation order to protect you. Contact an experienced family lawyer.

Coercive Control – what is it and are you a victim of it?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question Coercive Control – what is it and are you a victim of it? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Coercive control – what is it and are you a victim of it? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Coercive Control – what is it and are you a victim of it? Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 filmGaslight” on Wikimedia 

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