Gender-based violence (GBV) is the most persistent yet least visible human rights violation in the world. It takes numerous forms: Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking for sexual exploitation, female infanticide, and ‘honour’ crimes are common – with intimate partner violence occurring at staggering rates in every country. Girls and women may also experience gender-based violence when they are deprived of nutrition and education.
Domestic violence and abuse is defined as
"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional."
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.
What is Coercive Behaviour?
Coercive behaviour 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 Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
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. We campaigned and succeeded in making coercive control a criminal offence. This has marked a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse. But now we want to make sure that everyone understands what it is.
Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action. Experts like Evan Stark liken coercive control to being taken hostage. As he says: “the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.”
Abuse takes many forms
It can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial. It can be words or actions. At home or in the street. It can be inflicted by a partner, ex-partner, family member, colleague, friend or stranger. It can be in person, through technology and online. Whatever form it takes, abuse is never justified. Any behaviour that demeans, frightens or distresses is abuse. It has to stop. Knowing what abuse is helps us all recognise it when it happens. We can all do something to keep women and girls safe. Knowing what abuse is helps us all recognise it when it happens.
Abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial.
The abuser can be a partner, ex-partner, family member, community leader or member, a friend, someone at work or a stranger. It can happen to anyone: an adult or a child, female or male. It can happen at home or in a public place like a community centre, school or work. It can be in person, or through technology and online.
How do you know if this is happening to you?
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