Sophie Pincott (pictured above), a Family Law and Domestic Abuse Specialist at Swansea-based Peter Lynn and Partners, clarifies what constitutes controlling and coercive behaviour…


Domestic abuse, or domestic violence, is defined across Government as any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

What are the types of abuse?
‘Domestic abuse’ covers a range of types of abuse, including, but not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. ‘Domestic abuse’ can be prosecuted under a range of offences, and the term is used to describe a range of controlling and coercive behaviours, used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship.

Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident and is the cumulative and interlinked types of abuse that have a particularly damaging effect on the victim.

The ‘domestic’ nature of the offending behaviour is an aggravating factor because of the abuse of trust involved.

Who is classed as a victim?
Men, women and children can all be victims of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse occurs amongst people of all ethnicities, sexualities, ages, disabilities, immigration status, religions or beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Domestic abuse can differ in severity between incidents, and more often than not, can increase in frequency and seriousness, having a cumulative impact on the victim.

What is controlling and coercive behaviour?
‘Controlling or Coercive behaviour’ describes behaviour occurring within a current or former intimate or family relationship which causes someone to fear that violence will be used against them on more than one occasion, or causes them serious alarm or distress that substantially affects their day to day activities.

It involves a pattern of behaviour or incidents that enable a person to exert power or control over another, such as isolating a partner from their friends and family, taking control of their finances, everyday activities like what they wear or who they see, or tracking their movements through the internet or mobile phone use.

The domestic abuse definition specifically states:

“Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.”

Coercive behaviour is “an act or a pattern of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

How can we help?
Everyone has the right to live without fear for their safety.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, our team of experienced family law solicitors can help you and your family, and we are a law firm you can trust.

We have dealt with a range of domestic violence cases over many years. We pride ourselves on working with sensitivity and understanding to help you resolve your situation as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Our legal experts can help you:

  • Apply for a court order to protect you from violence, threats of violence and harassment
  • Apply for a court order to prevent a person from entering or coming near your home
  • Take steps to protect your children
  • Resolve any financial issues arising from separation
  • Institute divorce proceedings from a partner who has been abusive.

We also provide access to a range of professional organisations offering support and advice to those who have experienced domestic violence.

To arrange a free initial meeting with our team to discuss this or similar matters, call 01792 450010 or email Advice@plandp.co.uk

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