Domestic Abuse: What is coercive control?

Coercive and controlling behaviour has been an offence since 2015 but what is it and how do you spot the signs?

On 29 December 2015, the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour (CCB) came into force through Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

The aim of this new offence was to “close a gap in the law around patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour during a relationship between intimate partners, former partners who still live together, or family members”.

Nearly six years on and there has been a lot of awareness surrounding behaviours like this.

What is coercive and controlling behaviour?

According to the charity Women's Aid coercive and controlling behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

What are the signs to look out for?

  • Isolating you from your friends and family

  • Monitoring what you do throughout the day

  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear.

  • Name-calling and putting you down

  • Limiting or controlling your access to money

  • Turning your kids against you and manipulation your relationships

  • Controlling aspects of your health and body

  • Making jealous accusations

  • Making threats

How do you get out of a Coercive and controlling relationship?

Getting out of an abusive relationship can be complex, even more so when children are involved. But with a bit of planning, and some help, you can leave a relationship like this.

  • Keep talking to your support system whenever possible - even if your partner dislikes it try to keep up as much communication as you can, and ensure your family and friends check in on you regularly as well.

  • Call a domestic abuse helpline, they have experts on hand to talk you through any situation.

  • Keep as much evidence as you can - this includes copies of emails or letters, details of previous threats, phone records, witness testimony from family, friends or neighbours.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by domestic abuse and want to get in touch with someone about it, here are a few organisations that may find helpful.

Please remember, in an emergency, call 999.