This blog is a continuation of last week’s Coercive Control blog. I feel that this topic is important to cover thoroughly, particularly the invisible signs that can often be seen as non-threatening in the beginning. One such seemingly innocent example is when a partner suddenly wants to combine individual social media accounts into one. This isn’t to say that all couples with combined social media accounts are under the control of a spouse because I have many friends with accounts like this. What I’m talking about is when a spouse or partner suddenly convinces the other partner that they don’t need their own account with an intent behind the suggestion to gain more and more control over their partner. This also helps to aid with the isolation of the partner as discussed in last week’s blog. As you’ll recall this widely used isolation technique begins with comments such as “She isn’t a good friend to you” or “He only calls when he wants something.” They will use a similar rationalization when convincing his or her partner to delete the personal social media account. With the account being a joint account, the controller can see every private message, search, and engagement. As you’ll recall, The Howard’s Journal piece noted three reference points that are subtle and “invisible” ways an abuser gains control: Grooming, Coercive Behavior, and Victim’s Responses. I’ll pick up with reference point 2: Coercive Behavior. As you will see the joint social media accounts also very much falls under this reference point.
The article describes coercive demands as “the product of a relationship between demands, credible threats, and surveillance.” The survivors interviewed stated the demands came in all shapes and forms, big and small, but all demands had one common denominator: pervasive. The abuser controlled everything from what the victim ate, how she dressed, how she answered the phone, how the world perceived her, every facet of her life no matter how mundane they are to most of us. You can see how the sudden suggestion of combining social media accounts can easily put the abuser in even more control of the victim. Another fact the researchers discovered from the victims’ interviews was that the coercive demands were woven seamlessly into the daily lives of the victim. One example was when a woman knew that her husband would demand dinner when he decided to arrive home, but would never give her any advance notice as to the time or what he wanted to eat. Therefore, the demands were woven into her day-to-day routine of knowing he would demand whatever his heart desired for dinner and she was expected to have the ingredients and know-how to cook the meal. In order for her to be fully prepared for his dinner expectations, this coercive demand carried throughout her entire day to include grocery shopping to assure she had the ingredients as well as being available to him to cook the meal regardless of how time intensive it was.
Additionally, all victims noted some sort of surveillance was present. In the beginning, it can seem innocent and almost loving such as continuous phone calls to “check on him or her.” The onslaught of endless technology gives abusers almost unlimited control over a victim from tracking to admin access to all email and social media accounts.
Hickey and Hull Law Partners specializes in family law and helping victims break free from the abuse through the right legal avenues. We also specialize in parental alienation. When a parent uses a child to intentionally alienate the other parent, it certainly falls into the coercive control category. More often than not, a parent using the parental alienation tactic has exhibited these behaviors prior to alienation. The alienation is their last attempt at controlling the victim.
Check back next week for the final blog in this series that will cover the last reference point: Victims’ Responses. If you are a victim of coercive control, contact Hickey and Hull Law Partners to set up a consultation, 479.434.2414 (River Valley) or 479.802.6560 (Northwest Arkansas). We can help you begin the legal process to help avoid giving your partner any further control, particularly the power of alienating you from your children.
Please note as a reminder, I have made references that the victim is a female. I am not singling one gender out over the other as abuse can happen in all relationships. In fact, I had just finished loading my groceries in the car the other day and watched a female slap her male partner for no apparent reason. The article I have referenced in these blogs interviewed female abuse victims only. Therefore, if I am referencing the article, I am quoting or stating as to how the respondents were interviewed and/or their answers.