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Coercive control

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Written by Karen Hutchinson - Family Safety Services Clinical Lead

Coercion or coercive control is a form of family harm that can be hard to see. Coercive control is used as an abusive strategy to instill fear and control over ones partner. When someone is being coercively controlled, they may have unreasonable demands placed upon them and then be criticized or punished in some way for not meeting the demands. There may be inconsistent amounts of support and attention given as a way to make the abused person want to be good all the time.


In a healthy relationship, topics about each other can be discussed and although at times may be uncomfortable; both people seek a good outcome and want to feel good about each other and themselves. A person using coercive control has no desire to change and wants the other person to change in many ways. They will use fear as a tactic to keep the other person on their toes and although they may not fear physical harm, it can be fear of silent treatment, withholding support or abusive language that is aimed to hurt the victim.


The abuser may apologies for their behaviour but will continue to use the same behaviour and continue to blame the victim for the faults in the relationship.

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