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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Miller

Coercive Control in Intimate Relationships

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour that is characterised by the use of intimidation, manipulation, isolation, and other tactics to control and dominate a partner in an intimate relationship. While physical abuse is often the most visible and immediate form of abuse, coercive control can be just as damaging and can have long-lasting effects on victims. In this article, we will explore the effects of coercive control in intimate relationships.

Psychological Effects One of the most devastating effects of coercive control is the psychological impact it has on victims. Coercive control often involves manipulation, gaslighting, and other tactics designed to make the victim doubt themselves and their own perceptions of reality. Over time, this can lead to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and depression. Victims may also experience a loss of self-esteem and self-worth, as the abuser consistently undermines their confidence and belittles them.

Isolation Another common tactic used in coercive control is isolation. The abuser may limit the victim’s access to friends and family, or control their movements and activities. This can lead to the victim feeling trapped and alone, with no one to turn to for help or support. Isolation can also make it easier for the abuser to control and manipulate the victim, as they have fewer sources of outside information or perspective.

Physical Effects While coercive control may not always involve physical violence, it can still have physical effects on victims. The constant stress and anxiety of living in a controlling and abusive environment can take a toll on the body, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, and fatigue. Victims may also engage in self-harm or substance abuse as a way of coping with the abuse.

Financial Effects Coercive control can also have a significant impact on a victim’s financial stability. Abusers may control the victim’s access to money or employment, making it difficult for them to leave the relationship or gain financial independence. Victims may also be forced to spend money on the abuser’s needs or desires, leaving them with little or no resources for their own needs.

Impact on Future Relationships Finally, the effects of coercive control can extend beyond the current relationship and impact future relationships as well. Victims may struggle with trust and intimacy issues, and may have difficulty forming healthy relationships in the future. They may also be more vulnerable to future abuse, as the patterns of coercive control they experienced in the past may make it difficult for them to recognise and avoid similar behaviour in the future. Coercive control is a devastating form of abuse that can have long-lasting effects on victims. It is important to recognise the signs of coercive control and to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing this type of abuse. There are resources available, including domestic violence hotlines, counselling services, and legal assistance, that can help victims escape abusive relationships and begin to heal from the effects of coercive control.


If you or someone you love is being abused, please contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline for free on 0808 2000 247, or speak to your local police department for help.

It is possible to break free from abuse, and to lead a happy and fulfilling life. If you have suffered from abuse in the past, therapy can help you to process the abuse in a safe environment and provide you with the tools you need to be able to live fully.

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