Coercive control is when a ‘personally connected’ individual in your life (e.g. partner, someone you live with or family member) repeatedly behaves in a way which makes you feel isolated, controlled, dependent or scared. This type of behaviour is often part of narcissistic emotional abuse.

Since 2020, in response to repeated calls from experts, this now also includes post-separation abuse and familial domestic abuse when the victim and perpetrator no longer live together as abuse can often escalate upon separation.

The following types of toxic behaviour are common examples of coercive control:

  • threatening to publish private information about you
  • threatening to report you to the authorities or to embarrass you with work colleagues
  • isolating you from your friends, colleagues and family
  • controlling how much money you have and how you spend it
  • monitoring your activities and movements (including controlling or monitoring social media, phone use etc)
  • repeatedly criticising you, putting you down, calling you names or telling you that you are stupid or worthless
  • threatening to harm or kill you or your child/loved ones
  • damaging your property or household goods
  • forcing you to take part in criminal activity or child abuse

Coercive Control and UK Law (See USA Coercive Control Laws here)

Since 2015 it is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to subject you to coercive control. If you experience this kind of emotion abuse you can report it to the police. If necessary, you may also be able to apply to the Family Court for protection.

The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that 1.6 million women and 757,000 men had experienced domestic abuse between March 2019 and March 2020, with a 7% growth in police recorded domestic abuse crimes. Between April and June 2020, there was a 65% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, when compared to the first three months of that year.

At the time of writing although there is limited official data so far on the impact of lockdown on domestic abuse, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report that in mid-May 2020, there was a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases referred to victim support.

 An abuser will be guilty of the offence of coercive control if

  1. they are personally connected to you, and
  2. the behaviour has had a serious or detrimental effect on you, and
  3. your abuser knew or ought to have known that his behaviour would have a serious effect on you.

Getting help and support (UK and USA)

Leaving a toxic, controlling relationship can be difficult. You are likely to feel confused, and exhausted and to be searching for answers. You may have PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) symptoms.

I offer a free 30-minute call/zoom chat to discuss how I can help. As a survivor myself I will meet you with understanding and compassion. Book by emailing


National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247 

The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428 (run by Galop)

The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327

Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123


Kate is a trauma and embodiment specialist. She is a TRE & EFT Supervising Mentor and is on the Executive Board of EFT International (formerly AAMET) and is a Comprehensive Energy Psychology Practitioner, DipPsych, Master Hypnotist, Master Practitioner of NLP and Time Line Therapy (accredited by the ABNLP) and has been an intuitive body & energy worker for 30 years. While she works with any problem state she specialises in the sensitive areas of Post Traumatic Stress, emotional abuse, chronic pain and anxiety.