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Coercive Control and How to Fight It

Fri 14th Jun, 2024 Family Law

Domestic violence takes many forms. Some assume that domestic violence is primarily physical in nature, but that is a misconception. In reality, domestic violence is a much broader category of behavior that often involves psychological abuse. One of the most insidious — and, unfortunately, most common — forms of domestic abuse is coercive control. If you are experiencing coercive control, you should consider speaking to a Stockton family lawyer

What Is Coercive Control? 

Coercive control is a form of abuse wherein the abuser controls, dominates, and limits the freedom of their victim. It typically involves subtle behaviors such as threats, isolation, and humiliation but can also rise to the level of physical abuse in some cases. The goal of coercive control, in most cases, is to isolate the victim and render them completely dependent on the abuser. Anyone can experience coercive control, regardless of whether they are in a long-term marriage, just dating, or something in between. 

Signs of Coercive Control 

Interpersonal violence looks different in every situation. However, some common examples of coercive behavior include: 

  • Isolating the victim from friends and family 
  • Monitoring the victim’s communications and physical movements 
  • Preventing the victim from going anywhere alone
  • Belittling or humiliating the victim both privately and publicly 
  • Limiting the victim’s access to their finances or personal documents (e.g., passport, driver’s license, etc.) 
  • Threatening physical harm to the victim (or threatening self-harm) 
  • Threatening to damage the victim’s reputation
  • Frightening the victim, such as by punching walls, throwing things, or driving recklessly
  • Setting onerous rules the victim must follow and threatening punishment if they break them 
  • Denying the victim access to basic needs, such as food, clothing, sleep, or medical care

Keep in mind that coercive controllers may escalate their tactics over time, wherein behavior that is seemingly benign at first eventually evolves to become more distressing. In such cases, the victim may not be aware that they are experiencing coercive control (or that coercive control is a type of domestic violence) until it reaches an advanced state. 

Legal Options for Those Experiencing Coercive Control 

Those experiencing coercive control have several legal options at their disposal to fight it. If coercive control is posing immediate physical risks, the victim should consider seeking a restraining order. California family law courts offer several types of restraining orders, such as emergency protective orders, temporary restraining orders, and domestic violence restraining orders. Courts have wide latitude when making restraining orders, so they can be tailored to address the specific behavior the victim is experiencing. If coercive control is not posing an immediate physical risk but is nonetheless significantly affecting the victim’s life, the victim may want to consider seeking a separation or divorce

Contact a Stockton Family Lawyer to Discuss Your Situation

If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control or any other form of domestic violence, you have options. To discuss them, please contact a Stockton family lawyer at McKinley, Conger, Jolley & Galarneau by using our online form or calling us at 209-477-8171.

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