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Exploring Perceptions and Beliefs in Coercive Control

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Building upon the discussions presented in Blogs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, where the reasons for the disproportionately low conviction rates in cases of abuse were explored in relation to the reported incidents, I now turn my attention to a pivotal and unexplored facet. This juncture centers on our intrinsic perceptions and beliefs pertaining to coercive control, the very factors that frequently serve as deterrents to reporting such behaviors from the outset. As is customary, my intention remains to stimulate introspection within the intricate domain of Coercive Control.


Key issues affecting reporting: Perceptions and beliefs.

Perceptions and beliefs can be extremely beneficial to us as we sift through our lives. "Experiences; however, these perceptions and beliefs can also be what keep us in abusive relationships. The beliefs we hold about marriage vows — 'till death do us part,' 'always stand by your man,' 'must protect your woman.'" We all believe that we share some positive, and some negative. Being subjected to abuse creates within the victim’s a sense of unworthiness, which begins to align with their perceptions and beliefs that are not true, but are very true to the individual.


Reflecting on my upbringing, I held a belief that abuse and domestic violence were confined to the home — a private, normative affair unrelated to others. Clinging to this unconscious belief prolonged my abusive relationship, which endured for nearly two decades. My autonomy, confidence, and mental clarity were eroded over time. I distinctly recall confiding in a dear friend, 'I'm uncertain of my own mind.


Our perceptions of what constitutes abuse shape our understanding of our experiences. This is particularly evident in how we perceive and comprehend coercive control. Often, we mistakenly believe that if no physical violence is involved, the situation cannot be labeled as abuse. Coercive control, however, challenges these notions by exposing how our preexisting beliefs obscure its true nature.


These beliefs extend to our social circles, families, support networks, medical professionals, and even the influence of upbringing. Others' perceptions shape our own understanding of abuse. Clients have recounted instances where professionals dismissed their experiences as non-abusive due to the absence of physical violence (though it's important to note that Coercive Control can encompass physical violence). Some have been told that coercive controllers are merely expressing love in unconventional ways. Considering these factors, it's unsurprising that reporting coercive control is discouraged. Gaslighting from the controller further distorts reality, leaving victims confused, frightened, and distrustful of their own instincts.


The constant reinforcement of beliefs and perceptions by external sources – including media and professionals – intensifies this struggle. For those enduring coercive control, this is an immensely challenging period, and my empathy goes out to you. Please entertain this perspective: You possess more strength than you perceive. In fact, you are among the most resilient individuals alive.


Here's a question for collective contemplation: While our perceptions of abuse may differ to some extent, can we all agree that respecting human life doesn't involve distorting reality through gaslighting, instilling fear of speaking the truth, inflicting humiliation for speaking up, eroding self-worth, or verbally belittling someone in public to undermine their confidence? Although I've cited only a few examples, I trust we can collectively concur that treating another human in this manner is abusive. Let's begin by scrutinizing our beliefs and perceptions regarding abuse and coercive control.


I will leave you with my message:

‘Make choices and decisions that will create peace in your

heart’


Much love Lis


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