We often speak about physical violence and there are laws in place to prevent, stop or punish the abusers.
What can be even more damaging in a long run is emotional and mental abuse.
It’s harder to detect, completely legal… and the victim often gets so entangled in this sort of drama that they start believing it’s all their fault and don’t even think asking for help or getting out of a relationship.
Coercive control is a systemic organised boundary violation designed to take away our freedom of choice and create dependency. In this way we lose control over our life and potential as a human being and become controlled by the abuser.
Mind games, isolation, degradation, intimidation and an ever changing rule book are not illegal actions so they are even more effective at holding the partner hostage, than physical violence is.
Normally the abuser will use charm and love bombing to lure the person into a relationship.
It’s important to get educated on early signs and red flags of coercive control, because once you are in it, it becomes increasingly difficult to recognise the pattern or to get out of it.
My personal experience of this kind of relationship was a hard lesson as I had no previous knowledge on the subject.
All the love bombing in the beginning felt a bit unexpected but good at the same time, because I naively thought it was a sign of a guy being really into me.
- Wants to spend every waking moment with you.
- Shares their cell phone location with the expectation that you share yours.
- Wants to do sleepovers every night from the very beginning.
- Holds your hand in a restaurant/bar/cafe all the time.
- Glorifies you and your good influence on his/her life (puts you on a pedestal).
- Suggest moving in together way too early in a relationship.
Each person is different so you can replace these examples with your own. But if it feels excessive, there is probably something fishy there, so keep your eyes wide open.
EARLY RED FLAGS of coercive control as listed in “Un*uck Your Boundaries” by Faith G. Harper:
- Rude or dismissive of your friends and family.
- Does not want you doing things without them.
- Excuses their behaviour rather than being accountable.
- Needs constant contact with you.
- Engages in a behaviour outside your set of values excusing it as a “no big deal” or jokes.
- Jokes about your appearance, passions, intelligence…
- Challenges your world view and motives without asking to better understand them.
- Picks fights so you feel obligated to make it up to them.
- Always expects you to wait for their attention, doesn’t value your time.
- Never admits any faults in past relationship ending.
- Expects you to be ok with their behaviour when it’s not ok for you to engage in the same behaviour.
- Minimises your feelings and dismisses how their choices affect you in negative
…and the list goes on…
But you get the point.
If you recognise any of these in your relationship, ask for help!
Reach out to a friend, domestic violence prevention center, a coach or anybody you trust, but reach out!