As part of our new campaign, #BehindClosedDoors, we've invited a series of guests to write blog posts for us on the topic of domestic abuse. We understand this is a deeply personal and sensitive topic, if you feel reading this blog post will be traumatising for you in any way, we advise caution. However, we are committed to opening the door on domestic abuse in our communities and we urge you to have these difficult conversations in our churches. You can find a host of resources to help you get started and advice on steps to take if you are concerned for yourself or someone you know.
If you want to become involved in our campaign, you can do so through social media or by submitting a blog post to our Digital Communications Officer.
When we think about gender-Based violence it is easy to think about black eyes and broken bones, which of course it can well be. However, we must remember that domestic abuse isn’t always physical. We must also think about coercive control, defined as a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence carried out by a partner.
Coercive control is so dangerous as the behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. This means they often end up pushing away loved ones, removing their support systems. They are made to feel worthless and unlovable; confidence is completely broken down and they are trapped in a relationship governed by fear and pain. Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It limits their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action.
The prevalence of coercive control and its psychological impact has garnered much traction over the past few years as charities such as Womans Aid and MPs campaigned and succeeded in making it a criminal offence. This led to 17,616 offences of coercive control recorded in the UK by the police in the year ending March 2019, compared with 9,053 in the year before.
The change in law regarding coercive control has marked a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse as a whole and so when we as members of Mothers’ Union are campaigning and thinking about gender based violence we must consider this as a very real form of abuse.