Not all domestic abuse is physical… it takes many forms, one of which is coercive control. Cases of coercive behaviour can crossover from family law into criminal law, often making the process unpredictable and tricky. This blog outlines what is classed as coercive control and what a family lawyer can do to help.

What is coercive control?

Generally, coercive behaviour is considered to be an act or series of acts that can include, but is not limited to:

  • Assault
  • Threats
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation

Basically, any form of abuse that is intended to harm, punish, or scare a victim could be classed as coercive control.

The legal definition of coercive behaviour can be found under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

How do you know you’re being subjected to coercive control?

Man demonstrating coercive control over female partner.

Coercive control isn’t always immediately obvious.

Coercive behaviour isn’t always immediately obvious. In most cases it’s gradual and often looks like:

  • Depravation of basic needs, such as food
  • Isolation from your friends and family
  • Monitoring your time
  • Spying on your online communication, such as social media
  • Controlling aspects of your daily life, such as who you can see, where you can go and what you can wear
  • Sexual coercion
  • Denying you access to services such as medical support
  • Constantly belittling, dehumanising, degrading and humiliating you
  • Controlling your money
  • Threats or intimidation

The list isn’t exhaustive…If you’re being subjected to any or all of these acts, then it’s likely that you’re the victim of coercive control.

How do you report coercive control?

Police responding to a coercive control complaint

If you’re a victim of coercive control, call the police.

In the first instance, you should report coercive control to the police as it is a form of domestic abuse and is a criminal offence under law. The police can issue a warning or arrest your abuser. If there’s enough evidence, police can refer your case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

If a guilty verdict is delivered, your abuser can get up to 5 years in prison, be made to pay a fine or both.

How can you involve a family lawyer?

If allegations of coercive behaviour arise as part of proceedings, both victim and abuser may find themselves having to deal with the family and criminal courts. Coercive control cases often tend to see family and criminal law collide and, in some instances, you may well need to seek the advice of both a family lawyer and criminal lawyer.

From a family law perspective, Holland Family Law can help you to break free of coercive control and regain your independence. Our specialist domestic abuse department deals with coercive control cases, assisting you in securing legal protection against an abusive partner.

Dealing with coercive control through the family courts offers you a far more discrete way to tackle the issue and requires a lower standard of proof than the criminal courts. Ultimately, what we can offer as a family law firm is a sympathetic and constructive approach to your case from start to finish.

Involving us in a coercive control case gives you the support that you will need to navigate what is a tricky area of law. In cases involving domestic abuse, trust can be hard, but we go about earning your trust by fighting your corner strategically to minimise further stress on what is already a stressful situation.

The best thing you can do is find a way to communicate with us.

If your every movement is being monitored, we appreciate that can be hard, but we’re available on the phone – 0116 436 2170, email – and social media messaging – you can reach us on Facebook or LinkedIn.