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This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers.
Coercive control is a term you may be hearing a lot of lately, as Australia moves to criminalise this form of abuse. As our awareness of abusive relationships continues to expand you might find that you, or someone you love, is experiencing coercive control – or have in the past.
Often brushed off as ‘not that bad’ due to its non-physical nature, coercive control begins with seemingly small behaviours; a sprinkle of jealousy here, and a bit of silent treatment there.
But, it IS bad.
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In fact, in many cases where a woman is killed by a current or former partner, coercive control has been used prior to, or in conjunction with physical abuse.
Coercive control is predominantly seen in intimate relationships, with the goal being to micro regulate the victim and isolate them from sources of support.
In a nutshell; it’s hideously toxic. I know, from my own experience, that you begin to doubt your own reality, your other relationships and your ability to do anything ‘right’.
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Your self worth becomes non-existent, which is exactly what abusers thrive off. That being said, here are four common signs of coercive control to listen out for:
1. “Who are you dressing up for, going out like that?”
This one hits two birds with one sharp stone; isolating you from your friends and controlling your clothing choices.
This is usually paired with the silent treatment, and over time you change how you dress to suit and eventually stop going out altogether to avoid the conflict that ensues.