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Living with the Enemy – Coercive Control

two man hiking on snow mountain
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Coercive Control or intimate terrorism can be like living with the enemy – who says they love you. Feeling like a hostage, constantly walking on eggshells & always doing the wrong thing. This is not gender specific; contrary to what many assume that women are the only victims but it is quite common for the male to be a victim of domestic violence. Making the other person happy at all costs to avoid consequences. Same sex relationships are not immune either, it’s just not spoken enough about in the general population.

Sometimes a person can live in an abusive relationship for years and not realise they are experiencing abuse. Hard to believe? This is because coercive control can be harder to identify than the obvious physical abuse signs. When you’ve been put down enough, you start to believe it. Tasmania is the only Australian Jurisdiction that has laws directly addressing coercive and controlling behaviours.

Coercive control is a strategic and constant manipulation to instil fear. Becoming the dominant, making all the decisions with very real psychological consequences. Some examples are; Isolating from friends and family, motoring your activity & what you are doing at all times, restricting independence, controlling your body & how you look, degrading & belittle, limiting access to money, blackmailing, jealousy & possessiveness, threats & intimidation, gaslighting, forcing traditional gender roles as worth, turning your children against you, dictating your sexual relationship or even threating you kids or pets. This is all because they ‘love’ you. Mainly behind doors but then be charismatic & charming to others.

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Sound familiar? Knowing the signs and what to do can be the first steps out of denial and into empowerment. FYI: Denial is a survival mechanism (psychologically) so it is keeping you emotionally safe. Getting out of an abusive relationship can be complex. It takes time, planning & emotional resilience. If you feel like you don’t have the strength to leave, your partner has deliberately disempowered you. Know that it is not your fault!

This information is used for support and inspiration.

If this is triggering in any way, please be patient and understanding with yourself, seek help and be brave to talk to someone.

Thank you Living with the Enemy – Coercive Control

Maintain communication with your family and friends as much as possible. Call a domestic violence hotline regularly so you can be honest & speak about your concerns. Practice how to get away safely, including your kids. Have a ‘safety plan’. The initial period of separation can be dangerous. Educate yourself. Try to secretly document as much as you can, while keeping yourself safe. If it’s your mate, being a safe space for them to talk to (when they are ready) and not giving up on them – this is without judgement or telling them what they need to do. It’s not easy to just pick up and leave. The more we all talk about it, the more we can all help recognise the signs. No-one deserves to live in fear.

Written by Elena Bishop

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