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Coercive and controlling behaviour

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a victim.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Domestic abuse isn't always physical and doesn't always leave bruises and marks.

According to Women's Aid some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you're worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you

The law:

Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015

Offence range: Community order - 4 years' custody

Person (A) commits an offence if:

• (A) repeatedly or continuously engages in behaviour towards another person (B) that is controlling or coercive,

• At the time of the behaviour, (A) and (B) are personally connected,

• The behaviour has a serious effect on (B), and

• (A) knows or ought to know that the behaviour will have a serious effect on (B)

Domestic abuse - help available
Domestic abuse - help available

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.


  • Childline helps anyone under 19 in the UK with trained counsellors. Childline is free, confidential and available any time, day or night.
  • 0800 1111

National Centre for Domestic Violence

24 hour emergency service - free legal advice for help getting an injunction.

National Domestic Violence Helpline (24 hour)

Freephone 24 hour helpline run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge


The LGBT+ anti-violence charity. Emotional and practical support for LGBT+ people experiencing domestic abuse.

Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse Helpline:

The aim of Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse is to tackle domestic abuse by increasing the information and support available to victims, their friends and family, young people and to abusers.

National Drugs Helpline


Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way - about whatever's getting to you.


Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services.

Victim Support

If you've been affected by crime, Victim Support can give you the support you need to move forward. Their services are free, confidential and available to anyone in England and Wales, regardless of whether the crime has been reported or how long ago it happened.