Liverpool City Region solicitors Brown Turner Ross have reported an increase in the number of divorce cases citing coercive control.
Abuse is not always physical, coercive control is abusive behaviour that includes control, threats, humiliation, intimidation and creates invisible chains and a sense of fear in victims. The Serious Crimes Act 2015 made coercive behaviour a recognised form of abuse and is now a criminal offence.
MP’s debated the Domestic Abuse Bill in parliament recently, which for the first time will include economic control and manipulative non-physical abuse within definitions of domestic abuse and provide more protection to victims.
Labour MP Rosie Duffield brought national attention to the agenda, giving an emotional speech during the debate to recount her own harrowing experiences of coercive control. Rosie said: “Domestic violence has many faces and the faces of those who survive it are varied too. Sometimes there are no bruises. Abuse is very often all about control and power.”
Sam Bushell, managing director at Brown Turner Ross, said:
“Divorce cases citing coercive control have been increasing, and we are seeing more and more cases at Brown Turner Ross. I believe the numbers have always been there, but victims probably did not recognise it as abuse and only now feel more empowered to come forward and seek help since the criminalisation of this type of behaviour in 2015.
“Rosie Duffield MP showed immense bravery during the Domestic Abuse Bill debate, her story is one I hear all too often. I am glad women like her, with a national platform, are sharing their stories to challenge the stigma and stereotypes associated with domestic abuse. There is always someone willing to listen and help.”
According to Women’s Aid, 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