Identifying abusive relationships
In many ways, a coercive/controlling relationship is like a two-person cult. The perpetrator attempts to gain control of their partner like a cult leader gains control of their followers.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, behaviours that one might experience at the hands of a perpetrator in a coercive/controlling relationship are as follows:
Isolating a person from their friends and family
Depriving them of their basic needs
Monitoring their time
Monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware
Taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep
Depriving them access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services
Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless
Enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim
Forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities
Financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance
Control ability to go to school or place of study
Taking wages, benefits or allowances
Threats to hurt or kill
Threats to harm a child
Threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to 'out' someone)
Threats to hurt or physically harming a family pet
Criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods)
Preventing a person from having access to transport or from working
Preventing a person from being able to attend school, college or University
Disclosure of sexual orientation
Disclosure of HIV status or other medical condition without consent
Limiting access to family, friends and finances
You may also find that a coercive controlling intimate relationship is happening alongside or within a cult group.
Victims of an abusive relationship may experience some of the following emotions and behaviours:
Agitation, anxiety and chronic apprehension.
Constant state of alertness that makes it difficult to relax or sleep.
A sense of hopelessness, helplessness or despair because of beliefs that they will never escape the control of their abuser.
Fear that one cannot protect oneself or one’s children. They may turn down the assistance offered by relatives, friends or professionals.
Feeling paralyzed by fear to make decisions or protect oneself.
A belief that one deserves the abuse.
A belief that one is responsible for the abuse.
Flashbacks, recurrent thoughts and memories of the violence and nightmares of the violence.
Emotional reactions to reminders of domestic violence.
See also 'Impact of cult abuse'