Coercive control is an intentional pattern of behaviour (often used alongside other forms of abuse) which can include threats, excessive regulation, intimidation, humiliation and enforced isolation. It is designed to punish, dominate, exploit, exhaust, create fear, confusion and increase dependency in a woman (or a woman and her children). Over time it can lead to a complete loss of self.
Women’s Aid NI definition of coercive control:
This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent on their abuser by isolating them from family and friends, support services, exploiting them, humiliating and degrading them and regulating their everyday behaviour. It can be a gradual process which over time can lead to a total loss of confidence and sense of self.
Coercive control was made illegal in England and Wales in December 2015 with the introduction of the Serious Crime Act. The Republic of Ireland and Scotland followed in January and April 2019. Women’s Aid NI has lobbied to make coercive control a criminal offence in Northern Ireland and this will be recognised in the new legislation to be introduced in , the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 which will become operational later in 2021. This legislative change will be a huge step forward for victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland. We will work with all relevant agencies to increase awareness of this legislation and ensure clear understanding of the context and impact of coercive control.