What is coercive control?

Coercive control is when someone repeatedly hurts, scares or isolates another person to control them.

It’s domestic abuse and it can cause serious harm, so it’s important to know the signs.

A woman experiencing coercive control

It's an ongoing and repeated pattern of behaviour

Coercive control is more than a single act. It’s an ongoing and repeated pattern of behaviour used to control or dominate another person. Some coercive and controlling behaviours can seem minor on their own, but when they’re repeated or continuous they can cause serious harm.

A person experiencing coercive control

It includes physical and non-physical behaviours

Coercive control can involve any behaviour which scares, hurts, isolates, humiliates, harasses, monitors, takes away another person’s freedom or unreasonably controls their day-to-day activities. It can include physical violence and sexual abuse, but it doesn’t have to.

Aboriginal women and large man holding hands with women in wheelchair holding baby looking sad

Everyone's experience is different

Although there are some common behaviours and patterns to look out for, everyone’s experience is unique. The abusive person often tailors the controlling behaviour to the person they’re abusing. They may use a combination of abusive behaviours which can change over time, or as a person’s circumstances change.

Care worker observing and women in middle blocking grandmother

It happens in different types of relationships

Coercive control can be used in any type of relationship. It can happen when people are casually dating, in a serious relationship or separated. The abusive person could also be a family member, co-resident or someone who provides care. Coercive control is wrong in any relationship, but it will soon be a criminal offence in NSW when a person uses these behaviours towards a current or former intimate partner. Get more information about coercive control and the law.

Two people using coercive and controlling behavious

It's deliberate

Coercive control isn’t an accident. The abuser uses these behaviours to isolate, manipulate, threaten and scare the other person to control them. Every time a person uses abusive behaviours, they’re making a choice to do so, and are responsible for their abuse and its consequences.

A woman helping her friend who is experiencing coercive control

There is help available

If you’re worried about coercive control in your own or someone else’s relationship, there’s help available. Find out how to get help and learn about the signs of coercive control.

Quick exit

Call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) for 24/7 support

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