You don’t own me… learn to spot the signs of Coercive and Controlling Behaviour

Now that we are beginning to talk about finding a way back to normal after isolation, many of us will be looking forward to getting out and about, being able to see family and friends etc. and returning to school or work.

Stop and think for a moment though…there may be some people who have welcomed the time apart from a significant other or are dreading the thought of seeing them again.

Spare a thought for victims of Coercive and Controlling behaviour…

Photo by Vera Arsic on

In 2012, the UK Government added guidelines to their Domestic Violence definitions to include…

“Victims of “honour” violence or killings, e.g. Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriage etc. although this is not confined to a particular gender or ethnic group

Coercive Behaviour – an act or pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation, intimidation or other abuse used to harm, punish or frighten the Victim.

Controlling Behaviour – a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them for capital gain, depriving them of means needed for independence, resistance or escape and regulating their every day behaviour”

Unfortunately and perhaps shockingly in current times where we see young adults able to express themselves safely like never before, I see cases of Coercive and Controlling Behaviour within relationships all the time.

Also unfortunate and shocking is the fact that few young people, females in particular; even know what it is.

I see young people who’s partners are

  • circulating indecent images of them
  • shaming them on Social Media
  • controlling access to their friends and family
  • controlling their dress and image

To help young People understand what Coercive and Controlling Behaviour (a form of domestic violence) is, I’ve put together a case study below which is sadly a common story…

Emily is going out with Karl. They have been together 3 weeks. Emily’s best friend, Jaz doesn’t much like Karl. she thinks he is too controlling and has seen a change in Emily since she has been with him.

Emily tells Jaz that Karl loves her and only wants the best for her. Karl actually thinks that Jaz is controlling also. Emily and Jaz fall out.

Two weeks later, Karl shares indecent images of Emily on Social Media. When she confronts him, he says it’s because he is so proud of how beautiful she is and wants his friends to be jealous. He adds that she should never question him.

Karl has told Emily that she is not to wear makeup except when she is with him and he also controls what she can wear if she goes out without him. She rarely spends time away from him except for family functions.

People have started to notice that Emily spends a lot of time with Karl.

Emily tells herself that Karl treats her badly sometimes but overall he loves her. She has distanced herself from her friends and has no one to really talk to.

She doesn’t see anything wrong in Karl’s behaviour as he doesn’t hit her or hurt her.


My frustration is that many young adults, particularly girls, fall victim to this type of behaviour partly because they don’t understand that it is wrong.

The feelings we have, when we experience our first love are intense and we can find ourselves trapped in a bad relationship, hoping to feel those feelings again. Unfortunately, this rarely happens and those lovely feelings are often replaced by negative feelings and fear.

If you or someone you know may be affected, please seek help from someone you trust or contact a specialist organisation for more help…don’t suffer in silence, we all have a choice and a right to be happy!

Sarah Terry is a School Counsellor and Author who works in Central England. Her interests include Counselling and Psychology, Personality Types, Jogging and Yoga and Meditation. Find out more here

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Abuse -the soft signs

man and woman sitting on bench
Photo by Vera Arsic on

Abuse – what is it and how do we deal with it?

Anyone who has been watching the news this week may have heard the term “Coercive Control”

Coercive Control falls under new legislation which makes it illegal for your partner to abuse you using softer tactics than physical abuse.

The new behaviours which are covered by the law are…

When your partner

  1. Shares indecent images of you
  2. Restricts or denies your access to money
  3. Stops you seeing family and friends
  4. Scares you
  5. Threatens to reveal private things about you
  6. Places tracking devices on your phone
  7. Puts you down
  8. Acts with extreme jealousy
  9. Forces you to obey their rules
  10. Controls what you wear
  11. Makes you do things you don’t want to do

On their own and even if we think of just a few of these things, we may dismiss them as nothing to worry about or we may make excuses for our partner saying that they have issues which means they are a bit controlling but it’s fine we can handle it.

The thing to remember about this type of behaviour is that it is the same as bullying. All bullies need a victim and once they have found the victim, they steadily increase their control over them. The relationship falls into a pattern and before we know it, things have gone too far.

Figures show that 9 out of 10 women who were murdered last year were murdered by someone they knew. A shocking 85% of women were killed in their own homes.

Of course, domestic abuse does not only affect women in heterosexual relationships, it affects men and women in any type of relationship and can devastate lives.

In my job as a counsellor working with young adults, I often come across behaviours which fall into the above categories. I feel it is important to look at how people arrive in these relationships.

It’s easy and nice to have someone care so much about you that they want to do things for you, they may even defend sharing images of you on social media by saying you are beautiful or hunky and they want everyone to see that. But this is not OK!

I am not an expert in this field so if you are reading this and you are in the least bit worried about yourself or someone you know, PLEASE visit the Domestic Abuse Hotline for help and information for victims or for friends and families of victims.

PARENTS – Don’t think this only happens to adults!!!! Please talk to your young adults and help them to understand the definitions of abuse as early as possible so that they can recognise these behaviours sooner. Check out this powerful video…

Also, if you are putting up with an abusive relationship because of your children, you are putting yourself and them in danger.

There is help out there, it only needs to be a click away

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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