Last updated: 19 September 2023

Next review: 19 September 2024

Controlling behaviour includes a range of acts that can make a person be dependent by cutting them off from sources of support, taking advantage of their resources and capabilities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating. Coercive  and controlling behaviour is explained as a range of purposeful behaviours including intimidation, isolation, emotional abuse and manipulation. These behaviours are often used as the primary mechanisms for achieving power and control in an abusive relationship and these behaviours reinforce the threat or reality of physical abuse.

Coercive behaviour is an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, embarrassment and bullying or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

The new law will help protect victims by outlawing sustained patterns of behaviour that stop short of serious physical violence, but amount to extreme psychological and emotional abuse. Victims of coercive control can have every aspect of life controlled by their partner, often being subjected to daily intimidation and humiliation

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) refers to a range of serious crime types which are mainly, but not exclusively, experienced by women and girls: Domestic Violence and Abuse; Sexual Offences; Stalking; Female Genital Mutilation (FGM); Crimes said to be committed in the name of ‘honour’; Forced Marriage; Prostitution; and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Physical Abuse can include hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, hitting with objects, pulling hair, pushing or shoving, cutting or stabbing, restraining, strangulation, choking.

Sexual Abuse can include rape and coerced sex, forcing a victim to take part in unwanted sexual acts, refusal to practice safe sex or use contraception, threatened or actual sexual abuse of children.

Economic abuse can include controlling money and bank accounts, making a victim account for all their expenditure, running up debts in a victim’s name, allowing no say on how monies are spent, refusing to allow them to study or work.

Psychological and Emotional Violence and Abuse has a profound impact upon victims and their children. It can leave a victim with little confidence that they can do anything to change the situation. Examples include:

  • Creating separation between them and others, for example:
    • not allowing them to see other people
    • preventing them from making their own friendships
    • not allowing them to go anywhere on their own
    • causing them to be depressed and then using this against them.
  • Use of threats, for example: 
    • threats to kill their family, children, friends, pets
    • to throw them out and keep the children
    • to find them if they ever leave
    • to have them locked up
    • to tell everyone they are mad.
  • Putting them down, embarrassing and discouraging them in front of others or in front of their children; telling them they are stupid, hopeless, unlovable, that no one would believe them, or that they are a bad parent.