Coercive Control is self-isolation for victims 24–7

As the Coronavirus pandemic shifts our world to one that is smaller, lonelier, scarier, fraught with traps and trepidation, imagine how you would feel if this was your life every single day?

This is the reality of victims of coercive control on a daily basis.

Controlling and coercive behaviour is a pattern of abuse that is designed to make a person dependant or subordinate to their abuser, isolating the victim from support, depriving the victim of their independence and ensuring resistance and escape is an impossibility.

The marked difference between self-isolation and victims of coercive control is that during self-isolation, the world may have shrunk in terms of movement but there are still opportunities to work remotely, access finances remotely, speak to family and friends by phone or remotely, create new communities that share and support each other to combat loneliness and fear.

Victims of coercive control have no control over access to communication, phone calls and emails are monitored, access to money is limited or prohibited, reaching out to others is a risk that most won’t take because of the consequences.

Coercive Control

Taking risks like calling your mother or best friend can lead to violence or verbal assault, needing to buy basics like food, sanitary towels and nappies are prohibited and wholly dependant on the abuser’s goodwill and the victim’s perceived ‘good behaviour.’

Loneliness is the price paid to limit the abuser’s emotional cruelty, sexual violence, physical assaults and destroying anything and everything that you need or hold dear from a cup, to a framed photograph, work of art or guitar.

Fear is the secondary jailer, it is fear that stops the victim picking up the phone to test her worries that she is slowly losing her mind, fear of visiting the GP because the headaches are increasing, cuts and bruises are not healing, the nerves are frayed beyond fragility.

There is no escape by listening to a favourite song, reading a favourite book, doing that one thing that reminds you that you are ALIVE.

All favourite things are PROHIBITED by the law that changes with each waking hour and whim of the abuser.

Unlike the scientists working tirelessly to create a vaccine to combat the virus, medical staff caring for ill patients, Health Ministers providing daily briefings, medical organisations like Public Health Wales mobilising staff to answer calls by concerned and frightened people, there is no such action when it comes to violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Male violence will continue to kill more than women than COVID-19, so when will it be declared a pandemic?

Live Fear Free is a free, confidential, bilingual helpline for anyone suffering domestic abuse. (Applies to residents in Cymru / Wales only)

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Julie Ann Richards

Radical Feminist, Mam, Cymraes, heart always rules head, Trustee — Fair Treatment of Women in Wales, domestic abuse survivor — views are my own