How Family Courts Are Compromised by Coercive Control

Exploring covert tactics of emotional manipulation in family court disputes

The Justice Lark
9 min readOct 3, 2023
Photo by Sivani Bandaru on Unsplash

Family courts are traditionally seen as arbiters of fairness: institutions that protect the vulnerable and purportedly uphold the “principles of justice”.

For anyone who has read my other work on here, you’ll know that as a former barrister (lawyer) with near a decade’s experience working across a variety of courts, I hold a more cynical perspective.

In my experience, when it comes to cases tainted by the shadow of coercive control, these purported “halls of justice” are particularly lacking.

In such cases, I would go so far as to say that family courts often in fact become stages where manipulation plays out unchecked.

Coercive control, despite its profound psychological implications, remains a poorly understood phenomenon within the family court system.

The problem arises in part due to the fact that its signs are subtle and insidious, unlike visible scars or bruises. Yet, its impacts are profound, eroding a victim’s sense of self and autonomy.

Within the solemn atmosphere of family courts, perpetrators can adeptly use coercive control to unjustifiably manipulate narratives…



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.