Coercive Control

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Coercive Control

Not all abuse is physical.  The term coercive control describes abusive behaviour patterns intended to regulate and dominate the life of another person.

Coercive control can be an early warning sign of an abusive relationship that may escalate to physical violence or homicide.

On May 24, 2023, The Pas Committee for Women in Crisis hosted CLEA and Dr. Amber Merucci of the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters for a program about coercive control. The slides from the presentation are available here:

In March of 2022, the following articles about the dangers of not recognizing coercive control appeared in the Globe and Mail:

Personal insights into the concept of coercive control are shared by veteran CBC journalist Anna Marie Tremonti in this video:

Coercive control is not a criminal offence in Canada but the phrase is used in Canadian law.  For example, reference to coercive control appears in the Divorce Act definition of family violence and is a consideration for the granting of a protection order pursuant to Manitoba’s The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act.

In England and Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, coercive control is a crime.  Scottish Women’s Aid has produced a helpful video describing some examples of this kind of abuse.  The video is called Hidden in Plain Sight and can be viewed here – as you watch, please keep in mind that coercive control is not itself a crime in Canada:

A little closer to home, Sagesse in Calgary, Alberta is an organization devoted to prevention and intervention with a view to disrupting the social patterns that allow domestic abuse to continue. Their searchable website can be found HERE and contains much information about coercive control and other topics related to domestic abuse.

A brief about Coercive Control and Family Law can be found HERE.

This was prepared by the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children for the Alliance of Canadian Research Centres on Gender-Based Violence.  At the end of the paper, there is a comprehensive list of references for further reading about related topics.