Your new relationship is great! He really seems to understand you, he wants to be with you all the time, when he isn’t with you he’s always texting, he wants to know all about your life, friends, family and life. He’s charming and loving, he gives you flowers all the time. The relationship moves really fast and you find yourself moving in with him.
You’ve moved in and he still wants to be with you all the time. He starts driving you to work or to meet your friends, and then collects you as well. Then he starts dictating what you should wear and making sure he knows exactly where you’re going and who you are meeting. He gets jealous of time you spend with other people, your friends, your family. He starts checking your phone and asking you about texts and calls. You start to feel trapped, suffocating. Your friends and family call less and less often until you never see them, he has isolated you.
What started as a whirlwind romance with a loving man has turned you into a recluse that has to depend on your partner for everything. You are in a coercive controlling relationship and there doesn’t seem to be anyway to get out of it.
Coercive control is the way some people dominated their intimate partners so that they can get their own way all the time. The tactics of a coercive controller can include isolation, degradation, manipulation, humiliation, threats, physical abuse, punishment, financial abuse, and sexual coercion but not all of these strategies may be used.
Coercive control is most commonly used by men on their wives or girlfriends but victims or abusers could be of any gender or orientation. When you are subjected to coercive control you become afraid and anxious, your independence, sense of self, and your basic rights are stripped away. You are no longer able to make your own decisions about who you see, what your wear of what you do with your time or money. You feel like a hostage.
Being grilled, stalked, monitored, and criticised becomes normal routine and feels inescapable. You start to blame yourself and become disorientated and despairing, you lose confidence and you start to accept your partner’s version of reality. You are repeatedly told you are to blame for their behaviour, you have done something wrong. You try to keep the peace by suppressing you own wants and desires, cut your relationships with friends and family. You don’t realise that there is a connection between your isolation and your partner’s controlling behaviour until it’s too late.
Just to keep you confused and maintain his control, he can suddenly change back into the loving person that you first fell for. You think he is changing back into that person so this becomes another tactic in his control of you.
If any of this rings true for you and you suddenly realise that you are in a coercive relationship or you can relate this to a friend or family member, it's time to act. Don’t kid yourself that just because he doesn’t hit you then it isn’t domestic violence. You need to seek help from a domestic violence agency and devise a safety plan to get away. You deserve to get your life and your self back.