Coercive control

Coercive control is a concept put forward by American professor Evan Stark, actively involved in the movement against domestic violence. He published this concept in a book in 2007.

What is it?

This concept is defined as a deprivation of liberty that materializes through coercion and control, two mechanisms declined in a series of violent and non-violent strategies that include the micro-regulations of everyday life.

COERCION: Use of force or threat to do so.

CONTROL: A series of more or less subtle strategies that are generally invisible and difficult to detect.

They are therefore various subtle strategies, violent or not, to isolate, degrade, exploit and dominate the other by depriving them of their freedom. Coercive control in a relationship is when one partner has a psychological hold on the other, which is when the abuser uses coercion to force the other to act in a certain way in order to get what they want.

Deprivation of rights and resources

My partner is depriving me of my right to safety, freedom and life.

I don’t have access to financial, social resources etc.

“I couldn’t attend my father’s funeral,” “He never leaves me money to put gas in my car when I have job interviews.”

Regulation and monitoring of daily activities through the imposition of rules

My partner imposes general, specific, implied rules and rules that are discovered only after being broken.

“I don’t have the right to wear makeup.”
“I have 10 minutes to get back from work, not an extra minute.”
“I cannot ask questions if he comes home very late, otherwise it’s going to go wrong for me. Even if he never warned me.”
Rules discovered:
“I should have known that putting a new photo of myself on Facebook would turn to drama.

Control and manifestation of violence

My partner isolates me, uses force or threats to do so, humiliates me, intimidates me, harasses me and/or causes me to experience economic, spiritual, psychological, physical and sexual violence.

Evan Stark, Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life, Oxford University Press, 2007

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