Coercive Control & Child Abuse
Our government has enacted the current UK-wide lockdown and extreme isolation measures, which trap people at home indefinitely without considering that families are not always safe for women or children or vulnerable people. Although it is well known that the bulk of abuse of women and of children is perpetrated by someone they know, fear of the virus has been prioritised over other forms of safety.
Therefore at this time when we are in enforced isolation it is particularly important to protect yourself and others from coercive control and to protect children from sexual and other forms of abuse within their families. Do not hold back, do not put up with it and report if you know or suspect something or if you are able to if you are the victim.
Victims, especially children and young people, depend on others noticing and reporting because they often do not have the strength and are too confused and scared to reach out and tell what is happening to them. They are often threatened that if they do, the perpetrator would harm them more or would harm someone else they care about. They might also feel loyalty to the perpetrator if it is a close member of the family or a parent and they are made to feel that they are bad if they ‘tell on them’.
Domestic abuse and child abuse in all their forms thrive on isolation and secrecy. We can make it difficult for perpetrators by not allowing them to isolate their victims, by listening to the victims and taking them seriously and taking them to safety. Even with the current lockdown we must pay attention and support those trapped in an abusive system.
There is no excuse for abuse. Perpetrators might try to justify what they are doing by saying they are ‘stressed’ now even more so than at other times. But perpetrators would always find something to be stressed about to justify their triggers and their out-of-control behaviour that harms others. Taking stuff out on others, especially if the perpetrator is someone close that you should expect to trust, can cause life-long harm and trauma.
What is Coercive Control?
Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control 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 their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. Children are severely harmed if they are raised in an atmosphere of coercive control even if they are not targeted directly.
If you are under immediate threat the best thing to do is to contact the police or get someone to contact them for you. Do not allow yourself to become isolated regardless of the social isolation we are under at the moment.
Please refer to the ‘For Emergencies’ page on this site for a list of suggestions of services you can contact. If it is urgent (all abuse is urgent), do not delay and call the police. Even one incident of child sexual abuse an harm a person for life and any threat can cause trauma.