While coercive and controlling behavior has been a part of our law here in the UK since 2015, I believe that there are many reasons why convictions for this crime of abuse have been so low in comparison to the number of these crimes being reported to the police. However, for the purposes of this short blog, I will only focus on three key issues (which are interrelated) and take the stance of highlighting these issues while posing questions for us all to think about within coercive control. In future blogs, I will tackle some other key issues in the same vein.
Please be mindful that my blogs come from a place of no blame. I do not believe that change can occur with blame; I believe that the possibility of change occurring comes with a shift in collective consciousness awareness.
Key Issues Effecting Convictions
The perceptions held by those with the power to make change can greatly affect the amount of conviction for coercive and controlling behavior.
Uncertainty about what evidence can be used to prove coercive and controlling behavior
The lack of understanding or misunderstanding as to what constitutes coercive and controlling behavior
It could be argued here that some, but not all, who have the power to make decisions about coercive control at all levels of the judiciary system, criminal justice system, and law enforcement may hold certain perceptions that do not allow them to carry out their roles at the highest level of competence, to help, serve, and ultimately protect those who have been subjected to abuse.
So many times we hear of miscarriages of justice: important parts of evidence not taken into consideration; someone not knowing the laws with respect to coercive and controlling behavior; some failing to document, report, or record an essential part of evidence that could have greatly affected the outcome of a case.
All too often we hear stories of suicide ideation that could have been preventable, that someone didn’t feel as though they had no choice but to contemplate taking their own life because they have been in and out of the court system for years and exhausted their finances to be represented by a solicitor who is ill equipped to deal with the complexities of coercive, controlling behavior within the courts.
Those subjected to coercive control are often heartbroken due to failures that have occurred right from the initial stages of reporting coercive and controlling behavior to the police. They have the evidence through text messages, emails, and witness statements (not that witness statements are needed within domestic abuse) of a clear pattern of behavior that includes threats and intimidation that is specifically set out to harm, including decades of abuse through power and control, stripping of autonomy, their human rights discarded through entrapment, financial, economic, emotional, and psychological abuse where children are also subjected to this, the constant breaking of court orders, and the list could go on. Yet time and time again, I see NFA outcomes.
I guess my concern and question here is: what is being confirmed as evidence that can be used in order to prove coercive controlling behavior is either incorrect or is it dependent on the perceptions of the ones who are looking at the evidence that is to be put forward?
Of course, there are many other key reasons, but I believe it is important to ask these questions in terms of spreading awareness of the complexities of coercive and controlling behavior.
The lack of understanding or misunderstanding of what exactly constitutes Coercive and controlling behavior also provides limitations in terms of conviction rates, which could be argued to directly relate to the fact that if there are misunderstandings of coercive and controlling behavior, then how is the correct evidence to be gathered? Are those who are making decisions on which pieces of evidence are more relevant to proving coercive, controlling behavior in the courts possessing the relevant knowledge and skills to discern coercive control?
It becomes ever more clear the complexities that are involved in coercive control, and it goes without saying that what constitutes evidence of coercive controlling behavior needs to be clearly defined to better support those who are being subjected to coercive control.
Until next time, I will leave you with my message.
‘Make choices and decisions that will create peace in your heart’.
Much love, Lis