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Coercive control and the Longevity of Court Proceedings

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Following Blogs 1, 2, 3, and 4, which discussed 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 address another key issue. As always, my intention is to leave us all with something to ponder within the complexities of Coercive Control.

The key issue affecting reporting is the longevity of court proceedings for coercive control. Making the decision to report and progress with a case of coercive and controlling behavior is an extremely difficult choice. This difficulty becomes even more pronounced when faced with the reality of how long the court proceedings in these cases can take. I am not merely referring to the proceedings themselves; it's when these proceedings are manipulated by the abuser, which inevitably adds further time, serving as a planned tactic by the abuser to maintain control over the victim and to have contact in every aspect of their life.

The incredible women I have worked with frequently express their despair at having to go to court repeatedly, re-traumatizing themselves, enduring hours of cross-examination in the courtroom, feeling as though they must continually defend their position while also safeguarding their children. We are all human beings who seek peace in our hearts, so making a decision like this requires immense courage and strength, especially when the outcome may favor the perpetrator, granting them court-ordered access to the children, regardless of how unsafe this contact might be.

Cases such as these can take years to resolve, and in many circumstances, the end result may be the opposite of what the protective parent was seeking. It is extremely challenging for people to comprehend the emotional, psychological, and physical toll of going through this process—the effects on the body and mind, the sleep deprivation, anxiety, worry, stress, and ill health—all directly related to the proceedings of coercive control. The strength required to endure this process can be inconceivable. This is why many women make the difficult decision to not pursue a coercive controlling conviction. The stress of the entire ordeal can sometimes be too much to bear, especially when attempting to safeguard and protect their children as the primary caregiver. There is often great struggle; they may become angry and react in ways that seem out of character. It's essential for all of us to understand that individuals subjected to coercive control, a complete violation of their human rights, can act irrationally and seem confused. However, this does not mean they deserve the abuse they have endured; it's more of a reaction to that abuse. It certainly doesn't imply that they are incapable of caring for their children. Nonetheless, those subjected to coercive control often recognize these aspects within themselves, and they don't want to be this person. They realize that the process of getting a conviction is too much to bear, taking too much from their soul and beginning to change them as a person. They may decide not to pursue the process, which, in turn, can drastically affect the conviction rates.

Before I conclude, I want to emphasize this point: Those protective parents who are fighting to safeguard their children and keep them safe from abuse are some of the strongest human beings alive. Please share this message with someone, or even tell it to yourself.

Until next time, 'Make choices and decisions that will create peace in your heart.'

Much love, Lis

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