Coercive Control, Violence and Abuse — Hidden Dynamics In Relationships

Sacha | The Justice Lark
6 min readSep 13, 2023
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Peering behind the curtain of family dynamics, one quickly discovers that issues like coercive control, violence, and abuse do not just reside in the confines of dark alleyways or the pages of thriller novels.

Rather, they seep silently into the fabrics of our society, permeating households and relationships — too often unnoticed and unacknowledged.

These issues, in their myriad of forms, shape the dynamics of relationships. For some (for too many), power and control supersede love and trust.

It’s an area that social science research — and our wider societies — are only truly beginning to understand.

We know that these tend to be gendered issues though.

And we know that there is gender bias in our how these issues are often perceived and dealt with.

Coercive Control & Invisible Chains

Coercive control, a relatively recently developed term, represents a complex mesh of abusive behaviours that collectively weave an intricate trap, ensnaring victims in an almost imperceptible grip of fear, dependence, and oppression.

Unlike the blatant evidence of physical violence, the impact of coercive control lies beneath the surface, altering a victim’s sense of self, autonomy, and reality.

There are multiple facets of coercive control — these can include:

  1. Financial Control: One of the primary tools in the coercive control toolkit is financial restriction. By limiting a victim’s access to financial resources, the abuser ensures dependence. This can involve preventing the victim from working, controlling shared finances, or withholding money as a form of punishment.
  2. Social Isolation: Cutting the victim off from friends, family, and social networks serves multiple purposes. It makes the victim reliant on the abuser for emotional and social interactions, restricts potential support avenues, and hides the abuse from potential witnesses. Over time, the isolation can lead to the victim internalising the abuser’s perspective, further deepening the chains of control.
  3. Emotional Manipulation: Verbal onslaughts, constant…

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Sacha | The Justice Lark

Passionate writer and researcher focused on promoting justice and equity, with emphasis on issues related to gender-based violence, trauma & mental health.