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Sticks and Stones and WORDS may break my bones - Verbal Abuse, Emotional Abuse and coercive control, the often ignored form of domestic violence

This topic for me is so personal, I just don't know where or how to start.

 

When domestic violence is mentioned often the image that goes on in our heads is a woman all curled up in a corner with a black eye. We often cast our minds to physical abuse because it is that whose results we are able to see.

 

I find that we never really talk about the other equally damaging type of domestic violence, which is verbal abuse, emotional abuse and coercive control. Many women will tell you he never touched me but the words he used on me, beat me down and broke me.

 

So I did a video on this because most times we women don't even know we are being abused! all we know is that we hate what is going on and we feel demeaned, afraid , intimidated and emotionally battered.

 

But what we don't realise is that it is intentional! Our partner is manipulatively  inflicting this abusive behaviour on us to control and undermine us.

 

 

 

 I just wanted put a name to it. So that once we know what is going on we know what steps to take to fight it. A lot of verbal abuse, emotional abuse and intimidation in relationships fall under the umbrella of Coercive control.
 

Coercive control is a term developed by Evan Stark to help us understand domestic abuse as more than a “fight”. It is a pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away the victim’s liberty or freedom, to strip away their sense of self. It is not just women’s bodily integrity which is violated but also their human rights.

Coercive control is defined as ongoing psychological behaviour, rather than isolated or unconnected incidents, with the purpose of removing a victim's freedom.

 

Recently in the UK, the home secretary, Theresa May announced that a new domestic abuse offence of 'coercive and controlling behaviour' is to be introduced, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison - as well as a fine.


Here is a very important list of the most common examples of coercive control in abusive relationships – 

Culled from Cosmo
 

  1. Unreasonable demands. Often followed up by threats, pressure or physical restraint if you don't agree to them.

  2. Degradation AKA malicious name–calling, or bullying behaviour. This could include buying clothes that are purposefully too small for you to 'diet' into, or constant belittling behaviour in front of your friends, designed to make you feel worthless.

  3. Restricting daily activities. Whether it's your daily jog, or meeting your family. If you feel increasingly unable to carry out your normal routine, it's usually a strong signal for concern.

  4. Threats or intimidation. If your behaviour isn't to their liking, you are threatened or intimidated into changing it. This can include sex too.

  5. Financial control. Can include constant monitoring of your spending, or giving you an 'allowance' to live off (usually when it's your own money they're controlling).Financial abuse is a thing, and it often surfaces in coercive control, Mayer says. This could be anything from your partner trying to tell you how to spend your money to taking charge of your finances by severely regulating how much you have and what you can spend it on. They may also hide money from you or make financial decisions without you but not let you buy things without their approval, Coleman says.

  6. Your partner makes you question your sanity.Known as “gaslighting,” this is an “extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity,” according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. This can surface in the form of comments like, "Are you sure that's what happened?" and "You have a really bad memory." This gives the abusive partner a lot of power and may make a victim more likely to stay in the relationship because they don’t trust their own perceptions.Here is a great video that really explains Gaslighting.

 

10 Gaslighting Signs in an Abusive Relationship

 


7. Monitoring of time. Stalking your movements, unwanted contacted, or being controlling about how you spend your time is a form of coercive control.
Taking your phone away. Or changing passwords to your iPad or laptop so you can't use them. This could include any form of restricting access to communication, information or services.

 


8.The same goes for restricted mobility. If you're unable to leave the house, or use your car because they won't allow it. If your partner's behaviour isolates you from friends, family or colleagues, then it's important to seek help.

 


9.Deprivation of food. Constantly – and purposefully – taking your food away, or limiting your allowance is controlling, abusive behaviour. Seek help.


10.Destruction of possessions. Whether it's something valuable, or emails or text messages.

 

Finally I want to say that you don't have to get hit to get hurt, emotional abuse is abuse!

Seek help!

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