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A healthy relationship does not include control or manipulation

4 minute read
A healthy relationship does not include control or manipulation

Published by Grace Mcgachy at 6:00am 14th February 2020. (Updated at 9:30am 14th February 2020)

Being in love does not include being controlled, manipulated or abused. 

That is the message we are hearing from Woking domestic abuse charity Your Sanctuary this Valentine's Day. 

In 2018 to 2019 Surrey Police recorded 380 coercive control offences.

What is coercive control and is it illegal?

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical.

Coercive control – introduced as a new offence in 2015 – is behaviour used by an abuser to harm, punish, or frighten their victim, and can include assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation.

Some common examples are:

  • Isolating victims from friends and family
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring what you do online
  • Controlling your everyday life; where you can go, who you can see. what you can wear etc
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you are worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising victims
  • Controlling your finances

CEO of Your Sanctuary Fiamma Panther told Eagle for many of the people they support the emotional abuse suffered is worse than the physical: 

"The women that do come forward and the women that are referred to us, almost all of them say that actually whilst the physical abuse is horrible, the bruises heal and the cuts heal.

"But what goes on in their head, what's happened to them in terms of losing, really their whole sense of who they are takes the longest to recover from.

"And for many they don't ever fully recover." 

M's Story

Your Sanctuary first began working with M in the spring of 2019, she was quite insecure, had low self-esteem, and was reluctant to talk about the abuse she had suffered.

"From our first meeting it was clear that M had been severely impacted by the long term emotional, physical and sexual abuse she had experienced since she was a young person at the hands of her current partner.

She presented as softly spoken and very reluctant to talk about what had happened.

Over the next few sessions we began to explore the different obstacles that she felt blocked her from finding a way to lift herself and her children out of the situation.

We started to look at how she viewed herself / consent, how she coped with the incidents that would happen, how to take a step back and recognise the cycle of abuse, her finances, her sexual health, how to help parent her children through the family life, how to reach out to those that looked to support her and most of all what she wanted from the future.

Through addressing these various aspects of her life we were able to slowly build her confidence in her own decision making and grow her self-esteem."

domestic abuse

Towards the end of 2019 M. found the strength and courage to end the relationship.

M and her children had been able to stay in the family home with her now-ex-partner on bail conditions.

She had sorted Universal Credit, reorganised all the bills in her name, was engaging with the police and was looking forward to Christmas with just her and the children.

She felt confident that she never wanted to resume the relationship ever again.

"This was a good time to try and explore how she could move forward from just surviving to thriving.

We explained that the way we do this is to look at the various “branches” of her life to see if there is a way to help build her skills.

By doing this we helped her move her life in a direction that brought her happiness and fulfilment, in addition to the safety she’d work so hard for."

If you are a victim of domestic abuse - or suspect someone else is - there are plenty of services that can help. 

Call the Your Sanctuary, Surrey Against Domestic Abuse helpline on 01483 776822.

In an emergency always dial 999.