Following all previous blogs on the 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, I would now like to look at another key issue surrounding coercive control, but more focused on why those being subjected to coercive control will resist reporting it in the first place. Again, as always, I hope to leave us all something to think about within the complexities of Coercive Control.
Key Issue Affecting Reporting- Lack of Support from the System.
When a decision has been made to report an offense of Coercive Controlling behavior, what tends to happen is the person being subjected to this type of abuse does some research beforehand. Whether this is reading stories online, looking at statistics of coercive control (See my p
ublication of Break Free and the complexities of interpreting statistics), they come to the conclusion that trying to pursue a case of coercive control comes with the high probability that even if their case has all the elements of abuse that are specific to coercive and controlling, the chances of getting a conviction are extremely low. Once this sad fact is accepted, a decision is then made to not pursue an investigation any further. Here the acceptance of the system offering no support is cemented.
What brings great discontentment to my heart is that many people continue to be abused, and the very systems that are there to protect them actually keep them stuck in the cycle of abuse. They cannot stop the perpetrator from being abusive to them or their children, and when physical violence is not part of the coercive controller’s tactics, it makes this type of abuse even m
ore insidious and difficult to prove.
The decision to leave requires support from many different systems, especially if the victim's friends and family are unable or unwilling to provide this support. A safe place to live is needed because, in most cases of coercive control, the mother is usually forced into homelessness with the children because the perpetrator refuses to leave the home or handle property or assets amicably during the separation period.
I remember those dark days, having to leave the family home and hav
ing to live in a children's home (provided by work at the time) with my children as the family home was too unsafe. I can totally understand why women are extremely vulnerable at this stage; this vulnerability sees many return to an abusive home. If I am to be honest, I was so close to making this decision myself. I understand, believe me, I understand.
Finances are also an issue. Trying to provide for children, if the perpetrator controlled the household money, then the added pressure of trying to receive child maintenance payments from someone who is trying to break you at every corner.
Very common is the fixing of accounts/books to reflect low income, so the child maintenance payments are very low in comparison to what they should be paid. Perpetrators of coercive control will go to any lengths to see (usually) the mother suffer, which does 100% affect the children. Here I will argue that economic and financial abuse are parenting choices. They are extremely hurtful parenting choices that greatly affect the children's physical, emotional, and mental health with regards to lifestyle. The way the system is designed unfortunately makes this very easy for the perpetrator to control, and the effort it takes for resolution of such issues is timely and costly for the protective parent. Again, another issue affecting the mental health of those subjected to coercive control.
While there are many other issues where the very systems that are meant to protect actually do the opposite, I wanted to highlight the above issues as examples that many can relate to who have been subjected to coercive control; their lives and their children's lives are greatly affected on a daily basis. This is truly heart-breaking.
A question that I would like to pose for all of us to think about is this: If more m
en were subjected to coercive control and the percentages of men being homeless with children were at unprecedented rates, women beating and killing men at unprecedented rates, would the prevalence of coercive control, domestic violence, and domestic abuse be what it is today?
While we have to take into consideration that men can also be subjected to coercive control by women, though the rates are significantly lower, and men are subjected to coercive control within same-sex relationships. Let us really and truthfully ask ourselves this question, openly and
honestly with no blame attached.
Finishing on a positive note, to the services that are available which help women and children. I thank you, I thank you for your tireless efforts to protect those subjected to abuse in its entirety.
I will leave you with my message- 'Make choices and decisions that will create peace in your heart.'
Much love Lis