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Domestic Violence

Coercive Control

Domestic abuse comes in many forms. When it takes the form of a long-term campaign of control, humiliation, isolation and fear, it is called ‘coercive control’.

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Coercive control is now a criminal offence and domestic abusers can be fined, imprisoned or given other penalties if they are prosecuted and found guilty in court. Family law solicitors can also help you take civil action for protection against coercive control behaviours.

If you are experiencing coercive control, you can seek civil protection even if you do not want to support criminal charges (or the charges have been dropped, e.g. because the police say they haven’t got enough evidence).

At Crisp & Co, our friendly and supportive domestic abuse solicitors can provide legal advice and help you apply to family court for protection against an abusive partner, former partner or relative. Our service covers:

  • Non Molestation Orders/Injunctions – to keep the abusive person away from you
  • Occupation Orders – to exclude the abuser from your home
  • Prohibited Steps Orders – to keep your children safe
  • Divorce and civil partnership dissolution petitions
  • Advice for leaving an abusive partner when you are not married or in a civil partnership
  • Other advice about keeping you and/or your children safe

We are also here to provide emotional support if the abuser is subject to a coercive control prosecution and can guide towards other valuable support services to help you get through this difficult time.

Our team are Family Law Advanced accredited by the Law Society – this means that we are qualified to take on the most complex and stressful family law matters, such as those involving coercive control.

Get in touch with our domestic abuse solicitors

To have a chat with a member of our team about how we can help, all you have to do is give us a call on 020 8017 8962 or fill in our simple online enquiry form.

We are discreet and will keep anything you tell us confidential. This means that we won’t discuss anything you say with anyone else unless you give us your express permission, for example, when applying for a protective court order.

What is coercive control?

Coercive control is when someone you are personally connected to – such as a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend or family member – keep on behaving in a way that makes you feel controlled, scared, humiliated, isolated and/or threatened.

Rather than isolated incidents, coercive control is a pattern of behaviour. It can often be hard to spot because each incident by itself may be ‘small’ but it feeds into a larger pattern of domestic violence.

Coercive control doesn’t just cover physical violence, it can also include acts of emotional, verbal, financial and sexual abuse. Tech abuse – where someone uses technology to control, frighten or isolate you, such as confiscating your phone or sending people photos of you – is also common.

Coercive control can affect any person of any age, sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religious belief or any other personal characteristic.

Coercive control checklist

Spot the signs of coercive control – the following are examples of coercive control behaviours.

Remember – you don’t need to tick every item off this list for it to be coercive control. If you feel controlled, scared, isolated and/or threatened, you can seek legal protection.

  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear and who you meet or talk to
  • Isolating you from your friends and family
  • Threatening to hurt you and/or your children
  • Controlling your money, such as limiting how much money you can have, taking over your bank accounts and telling you how you can spend it
  • Verbal abuse,  such as shouting, calling you names and criticising you
  • Damaging your home or belongings
  • Jealous behaviours, such as intense paranoia, being possessive and accusing you of cheating
  • Blackmailing you, such as threatening to reveal personal information or report you to the police
  • Sharing sexually intimate photos or videos without your consent (revenge porn)
  • Forcing you to do things you don’t want to do, such as sexual activity or criminal activity
  • Tracking you, such as using mobile devices and spyware to monitor and control who you talk to, where you go and what you do

Is coercive control a crime?

Coercive control is now a criminal offence and anyone responsible can be prosecuted and potentially put in prison for up to 5 years.

You can go through criminal and civil proceedings at the same time. So, it is possible to get legal protection if the abusive person is currently out of custody because they are on bail or only being investigated for the crime of coercive control.

You can also get civil protection even if you don’t want to support criminal action against the abusive person or they cannot be prosecuted (for example, because the police say there is not enough evidence to charge them).

We understand that it can be very frustrating and distressing to be told that criminal action under coercive control law is not possible. We encourage you to get in touch to discuss your civil options as obtaining protective orders are usually easier to get than prosecution.

How can our coercive control solicitors help?

If you are experiencing or have experienced coercive control from a partner, former partner or relative, we can provide a wide range of advice and support, for obtaining protective court orders to getting a divorce.


Our expertise includes:

Non Molestation Orders / Injunctions

Non Molestation Order (also known as an Injunction or a Restraining Order) can stop an abusive person from threatening, harassing or even contacting you and your children (if you have any).

If the abuser breaches the Injunction, you can call the police and get them arrested.

You can get an Injunction even if the police have said that they cannot prosecute the abuser. This is because you do not need to provide as much evidence in civil cases as in criminal ones.

We can help you apply for an Injunction, including gathering evidence and completing all the legal forms.

We can also provide advice about getting an Emergency Non Molestation Order (or Emergency Injunction) where you need protection straight away. With this type of Order, the abuser is not notified until it is in place. Only then do they have a chance to object to it, but by then the protection is in place.

Occupation Orders

An Occupation Order can stop an abuser from living in or coming near your home. With this Order, you can exclude the abuser even if you used to live together and/or they have an interest in the home (e.g. their name is on the tenancy agreement or legal title).

Like an Injunction, if the abuser breaches the Occupation Order, you can call the police and get them arrested.

We can provide advice about obtaining and Occupation Order and handle the entire process on your behalf.

Protecting children from coercive control

We can provide immediate practical advice about protecting children from an abusive parent. We know how upsetting it can be to share parental responsibility with someone who has subjected to coercive control. Fortunately, if it is the best thing for your children’s welfare, the family courts can limit an abusive parent’s access. We can provide advice about a wide range of children law matters, including:

  • Obtaining a Child Arrangements Order which sets out:
    • Where your children should live
    • How much contact the abusive parent is allowed to have (if any)
    • How contact should take place (e.g. the court may only allow supervised contact)
  • Obtaining a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the abusive person from doing certain things, such as forbidding them from picking the children up from school or taking them out of your care

Divorce and civil partnership dissolution

We can help you get a divorce or civil partnership dissolution to leave an abusive partner and move on with your life. As well as guiding you through the divorce process, we can help you work out financial matters (such as dividing your savings and transferring property) and sort out arrangements for children.

Cohabitation advice

If you and your partner are not married, we can provide clear, simple advice about your legal rights. This includes helping you sort out who owns what and ensuring you are able to leave the relationship with all the money and property that you own and are entitled to.

Unmarried couples do not have automatic property rights for property they do not legally own. However, it is sometimes possible to make a claim anyway â€â€Å“ for example, if your partner’s name is on the legal title to your home but you have made mortgage payments, looked after the home or paid the bills over the years.

For more information, visit our Cohabitation page and scroll down to the Cohabitation dispute resolution section.

Get in touch with our friendly domestic abuse solicitors

To have a chat with a member of our team about how we can help, all you have to do is give us a call on 0203 857 9885 or fill in our simple online enquiry form.

We are discreet and will keep anything you tell us confidential. This means that we won’t discuss anything you say with anyone else unless you give us your express permission, for example, when applying for a protective court order.