One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

The Danger of Coercive Control

The Danger of Coercive Control

woman pushing man away

Coercive control can happen in any dating relationship. But what is coercive control, and why is it important for the body of Christ to understand it?

Coercive control is a form of intimate partner violence and emotional abuse. It refers to a pattern of controlling behaviors that create an unequal power dynamic in the relationship. It happens when one person uses manipulation, verbal abuse, and/or intimidation to get what they want out of the relationship. These forms of abuse have just as much power to assault the dignity and inherent value of God’s children as a physical assault may have. As image-bearers of a just and all-loving God, this should grieve us deeply.

Although women are more at risk to be a victim of coercive control tactics and abuse that lead to physical violence, coercive control can happen in any type of intimate relationship to both women and men.

Signs to Watch For

Some of the behaviors and patterns in coercive control are:

  • Making jealous accusations
  • Undermining your confidence and/or sense of self-worth
  • Using Scripture or religious teachings to get you to comply with what they want or using Scripture to guilt and shame or to insist on submission in the context of dating
  • Using disapproval to control your behavior through constant criticism
  • Pressuring or guilting you into doing things you don’t want to do, such as cancelling plans, quitting an activity they think takes too much of your time, having sex, etc.
  • Deliberately doing something to make you feel diminished or embarrassed
  • Controlling who you spend time with or isolating you from the support of friends and/or family
  • Blaming you for all the problems in the relationship
  • Stalking

Using these behaviors to get what we want from someone are the opposite of how God has called us to walk in love. As an image-bearer, our presence in a relationship should be that which edifies, strengthens, and empowers another’s walk with Christ. Coercive control and other forms of emotional abuse diminish, discourage, and create doubt.

Steps to Take

If you are experiencing confusion, fear, guilt, shame, uncertainty, and self-doubt in your relationship, this is an indication of a relationship that is unhealthy and potentially abusive. Take the following steps to care for yourself:

  1. Maintain communication with your support systems whenever possible.
  2. Do some research on coercive control/gaslighting.
  3. Call an advocate who is knowledgeable about intimate partner violence.
  4. Make a safety plan in case leaving the relationship escalates the control into violence.
  5. Engage with the Title IX Office or Campus Security to learn more about resources available and options for addressing the situation.

Sources of Help

Here are some resources for safety:

Posted in Title IX

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