🚩Red flags are hard to spot and
even harder to escape.
From controlling behaviors to something just feeling a bit ‘off’, the red flags of domestic violence and coercive control present themselves in different ways for different people. When we can spot the red flags, we can help stop domestic violence in our own relationship or someone else’s.
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WHERE YOU ARE
If you’ve spotted any of these red flags in your relationship, learn more about COERCIVE CONTROL
Understanding coercive control
Coercive control is sometimes difficult to identify, but being able to recognize it is vital to understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Coercive control is behavior which is ongoing and persistent, through which a partner tries to undermine the other person’s independence, confidence, sense of safety or ability to seek help.
Coercive control can make you feel fearful and anxious. It is sometimes called domestic terrorism.
WHAT COERCIVE CONTROL LOOKS LIKE
Sometimes it feels like everybody and everything is trying to control us. It begins with children being told what to do by their parents, and then their teachers and friends. As an adult, social media is full of people and businesses telling you to do this or that, wear this, vote for this, eat this and don’t eat that.
Some of this advice you will accept. Some you will seek out. Some you will ignore or reject. And that’s all healthy and normal.
What is not healthy is when advice or recommendations come with threats, and make you feel fearful if you don’t comply.
In a relationship, this is called coercive control.
If advice turns into directions with threats, and if this makes you feel fearful or anxious, take care, as this can be coercive control in action.
WHAT DOES COERCIVE CONTROL LOOK LIKE?
Coercive control can take many forms, including:
Women can endure years of coercive control without recognizing this as abuse. But the absence of physical violence does not mean the absence of abuse.
The trauma, fear and anxiety experienced by women who experience coercive control can take years to get over, and can have significant impacts on children who witness or are subject to this behavior.
Sadly, abusers typically follow a pattern — they repeat abusive behaviors over time and with multiple partners — and abuse almost always escalates.
Controlling your access to technology is a common indicator of coercive control. If you’re worried about your partner’s reaction to your website searches and other online activity, see this helpful article on how to be eSafe.
Technology safety tips
HOW TO DECIDE IF YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS HEALTHY
It’s always good to examine your relationship and make sure it’s still working for you, whether you are just starting out or years into it.
A healthy relationship can look like different things for different people, depending on what your likes and dislikes are and what types of boundaries you want to set.
Relationship needs can also change over time—who you were at 20 years is likely not the same version of you at 40 years.
Healthy relationships change as people change.
What makes a relationship healthy?
A powerful tool to identify coercive control is a check list of ‘red flags’ – signs that your relationship is unhealthy.
Red flags may include a tendency for one partner to make all the decisions and tell the other what to do, what to wear and who to spend time with.
Dishonesty, physical abuse, disrespect, intimidation, sexual abuse, dependence and hostility are all red flags that coercive control is being exerted in a relationship.
Healthy vs unhealthy relationships
As well as red flags, it’s useful to think about ‘green flags’ in a relationship – signs that your relationship is healthy.
Here are some green flags that women have identified – but note that the presence of a green flag doesn’t negate a red flag, and shouldn’t be used to excuse an abusive partner.
Domestic Violence - Specifics
What Domestic Violence Is and What It Is Not
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence are interchangeable terms defined as a pattern of behavior used by an abuser to gain and maintain control over their partner. Basically, it’s all about power and control.
The abuse can take several different forms:
Physical, Psychological, Sexual, Emotional, Economic and often in combinations of these.
Abuse incorporates actions and threats of actions used to influence and intimidate another person. If your partner uses words or actions with the intent to frighten, manipulate, terrorize or intimidate you, you are likely in a domestic violence situation.
It doesn’t matter if you’re married, common law married, living together or dating… It doesn’t matter your race, gender, age, religion, financial status… Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re in a domestic violence situation, think on these.
If your partner:
The Top Trait of An Abuser
The majority of abusers are narcissists. There are two types: overt and covert.
An OVERT narcissist is:
A COVERT narcissist is:
Covert Narcissists have a (4) stage cycle:
Where the individual views a person as all good or all bad. They act like they are so in love for a time, often fantasizing a person as perfection but lose interest when that person’s character shatters their perfect image.
Reduction of worth or importance. A covert narcissist will devalue a person when their perfect idea of that person is ruined. They will use actions and words to devalue a person’s sense of self.
The stage where they repeat steps one and two.
Leave you and/or the relationship, looking for a new, shiny thing to play with. All in all, they treat people like toys, objects that can be used then thrown away.
A Narcissist’s Triggers:
Anything perceived as disrespectful
Ignoring them or making them feel unheard
Difference in opinion and/or personal preferences like an outfit, a meal, music, etc.
Any words or behavior that threatens their ego
Bringing shame to them in any way
Exposing their flaws or failures, shattering their illusion of superiority
Domestic Violence is Not
Narcissism is the top trait of abusers. However, here recently, the word narcissist or narcissism has been used way too loosely. It is important that we learn the true signs of narcissism. A big part of that learning process is knowing what narcissism is not.
People who are self-absorbed or have a big ego may often be characterized as narcissistic. Though irritating, a person being self-centered is not narcissism. There is a thin line but the difference is what drives them. A narcissist is mostly driven by insecurity and low self esteem. An egotist is driven by a need to declare their superiority, but may never cross the line of physical abuse. For this reason, all narcissists are egotists but not all egotists are narcissists.
At times people who have been hurt so much hide behind narcissistic tendencies, demanding others affirm their ideals. They use the idea as a shield from their imperfect self and the depression and low self-esteem that comes along with a disorder called D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder). A person of faith would describe these separate personalities as demon possession, which should not be discounted.
Narcissism can be adaptive (helpful) or maladaptive (unhelpful). In other words, it can either be a trait or a disorder. As a trait, a person may display the desire for romantic admiration from a partner, or they may hold a proud attitude on the job, or show entitled behavior in their home but nowhere else. It is common and widespread …