Coercive Control

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What is coercive control?

When someone is trying to control you we call that coercive control. This means that someone uses controlling behaviour to intimidate or threaten the person they are in a relationship with or their ex. It is a criminal offence to use coercive control.

Some examples of this behaviour can be:

  • Keeping you away from friends and family.
  • Monitoring your movements, when you are out and about or on your phone.
  • Telling you what you can wear and where you can go.
  • Not letting you sleep or eat as much as you want.
  • Putting you down all the time, telling you you are worthless or not good enough embarrassing you or threatening to embarrass you.
  • Controlling your money.
  • Threatening to be violent to or hurt you or themselves if they don’t get their own way.

It can also include digital abuse, which can involve:

  • Watching your social media accounts like keeping track of who likes your posts or who messages you.
  • Sending you negative or insulting messages.
  • Using technology to track your movements and activities.
  • Sending you explicit pictures without your consent and demanding you send them in return.
  • Constantly texting you and making you feel you can’t be separated from your phone.
  • Insisting that you give them your passwords to your email or your social media accounts.

Take a look at the video below created by young people from Yello!, an expert group support by Scottish Women’s Aid, about what this might look like in real life. 

What does the law say?

The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 ensures that children and young people are protected from abuse. This includes abuse from violence, harassment, threatening conduct and any other conduct giving rise, or likely to give rise, to physical or mental injury, fear, alarm or distress. It also means that children and young people have to be protected from abuse from their parent.

In 2018 there was a new Domestic Abuse Law in Scotland. This made coercive control illegal. If a person has behaved in a way that is likely to cause their partner or ex-partner to suffer physical or psychological harm then they can be charged with a crime. The 2018 legislation covers anyone under 18 experiencing domestic abuse in their own relationships.

Where can you get help and support?

Find out more information and get support from the organisations below:

Find out where to get additional support.

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