What Is Coercive Control? 7 Toxic Signs to Observe If a Partner Is Trying to Take Total Control Over Everything

What Is Coercive Control? 7 Toxic Signs to Observe If a Partner Is Trying to Take Total Control Over Everything

Physical and verbal are not the only types of abuse. Coercive control can affect the psychology of a person.

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Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 5, 2020. It has since been updated.

You must've heard about physical and emotional abuse or maybe even experienced it. These two are easy to spot in a relationship but there is another kind of abuse that is usually hard to notice, coercive control, a psychological form of abuse.


It is a form of total control over the partner's emotions and instilling fear and terror through sneaky, unnoticeable tactics. The partner usually starts with monitoring communications in order to put control into effect. According to Healthline, this kind of psychological abuse is illegal since 2015 in some countries including the United Kingdom. However, in the United States, it's not considered illegal until a crime is committed.

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In a study done in 2014, done by Women's Aid it was found that more women are likely to be victims of psychological abuse which includes name-calling and degradation of oneself. It was also found that 95 out of 100 domestic abuse victims suffered from coercive control, as per Good To Know.


Listed below are seven signs to notice when your partner is trying to take control of your emotions completely.

1. Isolates you from any kind of support system

The partner tries to make you limit your contact with your friends and family who are really dear to you. This way, he cuts off your emotional support from your loved ones, according to Medical News Today. He may also convince you that your family hates you and you're better off without talking to them, move far away from your parents' house so that it's hard for you to visit them or even go to the lengths of fabricating lies about you and tell others.

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2. Monitors your online and offline activity

Social gatherings with your friends might not feel safe because your third sense is on an alert that someone is watching, and that might be your partner. You may find him stalking you everywhere to monitor your day to day activities. He may also take your phone to keep a check on who you're talking to or what you do online, change all your passwords. The idea of sharing social media accounts might not be because he's being truthful, it's might be a sign that he doesn't trust you and needs control over you.


3. Disrespects you by namecalling and putting you down

He may call you names and embarrass you in front of your guests or blame you for not doing things right, no matter how much hard work you put in. He might blame you for the arguments that you have almost every day. He might break promises every now and then or refuse to share the household work claiming that it's the woman's duty. All these are forms of disrespect that should not be overlooked, according to Laura Richards, an expert on domestic violence, stalking, sexual violence, homicide, and risk assessment.

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4. Sets rules and regulations for everything

He tells you that the dress you're wearing embarrasses him and slowly he takes control over what you wear. He constantly tells you that he doesn't like your friends, and takes control over who you interact with. You become distant from them. He also controls what you eat and drink in the name of helping you control your diet.


5. Monitors your finances and expenses

Your money is not yours anymore. Every penny you spend and what you spend it on is kept in check. He keeps you on a strict budget which only covers the bare essentials, food, and clothes. You're never independent.

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6. Either turns the kids against you or threatens them and your pets

He might try to prove you wrong or belittle you in front of your kids, telling them you're a bad person. This might make you feel powerless and helpless. According to Mellisa Hamilton, Ph.D., if the financial threats and emotional threats don't work, kids are used by the partners as a form of control as they're more emotionally attached and thus more effective.


Threatening the kids and the pets is another way of gaining control. He might ask you to get rid of your pet or threaten you if you make important decisions for your kids without his permission. He might also say that he'll call child protective services claiming that you're a negligent parent.

7. Manipulates your thoughts, memories, and decisions

Your partner might be wrong in a lot of aspects but they may manipulate you into believing that even they're wrong, they're right. Gaslighting is another tactic used to convince you that you're wrong and your partner is right. When successful, you might even end up doubting your beliefs, your memory, and end up apologizing.


It is a hostage-like situation but it can be overcome with some observation, awareness, and smartness. Always try to stay in contact with your dear ones, whenever possible. Call a domestic violence helpline if things get worse and always have a safety plan.

Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.