Domestic Violence and Coercive Control: Understanding Power and Manipulation in Relationships

Over the course of my life, I have come to realize that manipulative tactics can often be subtle and hard to recognize. It took me years to understand that insults, intimidation, isolation, monitoring, manipulating, gaslighting, and physical or psychological abuse were just some of the warning signs of coercive control.

Dr. Evan Stark first coined the concept of coercive control in 1984. As Stark defines it, coercive control is a pattern of behavior that aims to strip away someone’s freedom and sense of self. It is not limited to violating someone’s bodily integrity; it also infringes on their fundamental human rights.

“I once had a friend who was in a relationship with someone who constantly monitored her whereabouts, dictated what she could and could not wear, and isolated her from her friends and family. It was a subtle form of control that gradually worsened over time, and made her feel trapped and powerless.” —Anonymous

In the past, coercive control was known as “domestic violence” and was perceived as being isolated “fights” or incidents of physical violence carried out by a current or former partner in one’s home. Today, the concept of coercive control sheds light on deeper dynamics and highlights the systematic and ongoing nature of this type of abuse. Therapists define it as a form of domestic abuse that goes beyond physical violence and includes tactics that undermine one’s autonomy, self-esteem, and freedom. Coercive control is used to dominate and control. It is characterized by a systematic pattern of behaviors that gradually erode the sense of self and independence and can leave long-lasting effects on one’s mental and emotional well-being.

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Domestic Violence and Coercive Control: Understanding Power and Manipulation in Relationships
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Coercive Control is a form of domestic abuse that goes beyond physical violence and includes tactics that undermine one’s autonomy, self-esteem, and freedom. Coercive control is used to dominate and control. It is characterized by a systematic pattern of behaviors that gradually erode the sense of self and independence and can leave long-lasting effects on one’s mental and emotional well-being.
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DIaneMetcalf.com
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