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Mental Health Relationships

It’s Time For A Refresher On Coercive Control

I’m a little late to the party.

Last night a good friend and I were hanging out and asked each other, “What is all of this fuss about the Jonah Hill text messages to his ex?”

At first, the words on the page didn’t sink in, He seemed to be setting his boundaries, and I suppose it made sense… until I read them.

“No surfing with men… but that’s her job, right?”

“No hanging out with friends from “wilder days of the past?” Most of us met our friends in college; imagine if you couldn’t see anyone you shared those memories with.

The list went on and on, but ultimately, it was a reminder that none of us are immune to coercive control, and in this case, it was disguised using the word “boundaries,” which, when used correctly, are incredibly healthy.

Yet once again, something healthy has been weaponized as a form of manipulation.

Let’s get right into it. What are four subtle examples of coercive control, and how can you protect yourself?

Isolating you from as many outside forces as possible

When surrounded by healthy and loving individuals who want what’s best for you, it becomes harder for an abuser to control and manipulate you.

Therefore the solution becomes apparent in their mind, whether consciously or subconsciously. It would be best if you were isolated.

Most victims have the same story, where they slowly lose touch with their friends and even family. The abuser finds reasons they shouldn’t be in touch with their social network and slowly but surely cages them.

This form of control is incredibly beneficial for them because it ensures that no one in your network is opening up your eyes to their toxic/abusive behavior.

Monitoring you under the guise of “safety”

Dinah is a young woman that recently moved in with her boyfriend. Within a few days, she began to notice something strange.

There were cameras in every room of the house.

We aren’t just referring to a ring camera outside to see who’s at the front door. We are talking about cameras in every room Dinah entered, where her boyfriend could tune in anytime to spy on her and hear what she was saying.

One day she was frustrated and muttered something under her breath about how she always had to cook dinner, and the next thing she knew, her boyfriend was screaming at her. His reaction revealed what she had suspected; he constantly listened to her and her conversations.

No matter what, your partner does not have the right to invade every moment of your privacy or monitor your every move. That’s a prison cell, not a relationship.

Dictating what a victim can and cannot do with their body

What profession could you assume someone wears a bathing suit quite regularly?

Let’s pretend you are dating a model and a surf instructor, and you tell them they can’t wear a bathing suit.

As ludicrous as it sounds, this is precisely what Jonah Hill requested of his ex Sarah, as a “boundary.”

Image via newsweek

No one has any right to tell you what you can or cannot wear. A healthy partner would encourage you to wear whatever makes you feel your best without judgment or jealousy.

Intimacy is utilized as a weapon.

If you want something from a partner you know they aren’t comfortable with. How could you get it?

Make them believe it was their idea, or promise them you want to try it once.

What may start out as a one-time experience may become more commonplace, or new demands may be brought into the bedroom which can further violate a sense of personal autonomy or boundaries.” — Psychology Today

The abuser utilizes coercive control to get the victim to fulfill their desires. The victim is manipulated and pushed past their comfortable sexual boundaries. By the time they realize they have been used, their partner wants to continue the behavior that they were never comfortable with in the first place.

Ultimately, regardless of what celebrity news is surfacing or what your opinion is, there is a straightforward truth.

Controlling behavior is not healthy, nor is it an indicator of love. Control and jealousy are the first signs of abuse, and a simple glance at the string of text messages between Jonah and his ex shows that Sarah was a victim of coercive control.

These examples of relationships are in the limelight, but typically this happens under the surface. It isn’t until the end of a relationship that we find out what our friends suffered through or what we experienced ourselves. There is so much shame around abuse, and we often don’t even realize it’s happening until we are removed and far from the situation.

Sharing our stories and educating future generations and the people around us is the only way that we will be equipped to protect ourselves from this type of manipulation.

Carrie Wynn



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