Coercive Control - do not suffer in silence


Coercive Control - do not suffer in silence in your relationship.

Sussex Police is running a campaign over two weeks starting on Monday (18 November) with a focus on coercive and controlling behaviour in a domestic context, as part of ongoing awareness raising on domestic abuse.

The campaign aims to shed light on the wider aspects of non-violent domestic abuse, and helping people to recognise the subtle signs of coercive control.

You can watch the first video here:

The campaign launches a week ahead of White Ribbon Day on 25 November and its associated 16 Days of Action to encourage a wider conversation around coercive and controlling behaviour. While this predominantly affects women, with recent national data showing that 95% of coercive control victims are women and 74% of perpetrators are men - anyone can be affected and can report it as domestic abuse and criminal behaviour.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Bates of Sussex Police said: In 2015, coercive control was recognised in law as a form of domestic abuse. This marked a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse. But we want to make sure that everyone understands what it is.

“Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour.

"It can create a deep sense of fear that affects all elements of a person’s life, making it incredibly hard for people to have the confidence to break free of this sort of abusive relationship. Often people who experience coercive and controlling behaviour don’t recognise that they are victims of domestic abuse as they are conditioned and manipulated to accept this as normal and acceptable behaviour within a relationship.”

Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you

DCI Bates said: “By raising awareness, we hope to help people spot coercive and controlling behaviour, to generate conversations around healthy relationships and help people recognise that coercive control, whether between intimate partners or family members, is abuse that should be reported to the police.     

“We want to reassure people that together with partners, our staff and officers can offer supportive measures to help them put an end to abuse, in all its forms, and rebuild their lives.

‘We are continuing to review our processes to improve our response to domestic abuse and to provide a good service to victims of abuse and together with Katy Bourne, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, we have invested in invaluable domestic abuse training for all front line responders, and now have 250 volunteers from within our existing workforce to take on the role of Domestic Abuse mentors, to support and embed the learning across the force

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: "Controlling and emotional abusive relationships have an extremely damaging impact on victims’ health and wellbeing, slowly eroding their confidence and self-belief.

“It can take many forms, from repeated name-calling to controlling access to money and it leaves people feeling intimidated, isolated and often terrified.

“This is an excellent police campaign to remind people that coercive control is now a crime that will be taken seriously and is completely unacceptable.

“This type of abuse is present across society and affects both women and men.  It’s important we recognise and acknowledge it and not keep it behind closed doors."

The awareness campaign also features information on 'Clare’s Law' – The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme which enables people to request information from the police to find out if a partner (or someone they know) has an abusive history which may put them or others at risk of abuse in their relationship. This can be particularly useful for those who recognise the signs of coercive and controlling behaviour in their relationship.

For advice and support on domestic abuse in Sussex visit our website advice pages

You can report domestic abuse online or call 101, or 999 in an emergency. We have specially trained officers who can help.

Sussex Police has domestic abuse case workers embedded the six Safeguarding Investigation Units. and also works closely with partner agencies to ensure any victim of domestic abuse gets the support that they need.

This includes: 

Support and safety advice from Victim Support

Local Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy (IDVA) services who provide independent and impartial support for victims at significant risk.

Refuge services who can provide emergency accommodation for victims of domestic abuse.

You will be supported throughout the whole police investigation and given further support if the case goes to court.

Ongoing support can be provided by partner agencies. The Safe Space Sussex website provides details of local agencies that can support victims of domestic abuse.

Refuge provide a freephone 24 hour domestic violence helpline. There are specialist services for male victims of domestic abuse nationwide, such as Men's Advice Line. Locally, male victims can get specialist help and advice from The Portal (East Sussex and Brighton & Hove) and Worth Services (West Sussex).

Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse - Respect provides a confidential and anonymous helpline for anyone who is concerned that their behaviour is abusive or violent towards their partner, ex-partner or family member. Their helpline is 0808 802 4040.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Keep up to date with our latest news and information