What is coercive control and who can commit it?
Domestic abuse can take many forms and is not always physical. Coercive control can only be committed by someone that you are personally connected with i.e. someone that you are in an intimate relationship with. It is a pattern of behaviours that create an unequal power dynamic in the relationship i.e. your partner makes you feel controlled, unhealthily dependent on them, isolated, or intimidated. Examples of coercive control include:
- controlling financial resources including how much money you have and what you are allowed to spend it on;
- dictating what you are allowed to wear and whom you are allowed to socialise with;
- isolating you from family and friends;
- checking up on your activities and whereabouts, often by using tracking apps on mobile phones and other devices;
- making you feel worthless or repeated name-calling;
- threatening to harm you or your children;
- damaging your property;
- making false allegations about you to the authorities;
- accompanying you to medical appointments when you don’t want them to.
How can I get help if I am experiencing this type of behaviour from my partner?
Coercive control or controlling behaviour has been a criminal offence since December 2015 and you can therefore report it to police if it is happening to you. If you are in immediate danger you should call 999, otherwise you can report the matter by calling 101. It is helpful to provide as much information and documentary evidence as possible to the police, for example text messages, emails, photographs, bank statements or medical records, anything that helps illustrate what you are experiencing. You will be asked to give a statement and the police will then investigate the matter.
Other than criminal proceedings, what other help is available?
You may be able to apply to the Family Court for protection from your abuser by way of a domestic violence injunction – a non-molestation order and/or an occupation order. A non-molestation order prevents someone from harassment, violence, or intimidation, usually by ordering that the perpetrator must not have any contact with you. An occupation order will exclude the perpetrator from your home, giving you and any children sole occupation. In order to apply for an injunction, you will need to complete form FL401 and prepare a witness statement setting out the reasons for your application and why you need the protection of a court order. There is no court fee to pay when making the application, but it is advisable to instruct solicitors to assist in drafting your witness statement.
For more information about our Family Law Services, please contact the Team on 01273 249200.