When it comes to discord in marriages, everyone is likely to agree that domestic violence makes the top of the list for reasons to get out. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Depending on the type of domestic violence you or a loved one is subjected to, it can be terribly difficult to just pack up and leave. Some varieties don’t even take the form of physical abuse, making them tougher to recognize.
Coercive control is one of those forms of abusive behavior that can trap someone in an unhealthy marriage. Divorce under ordinary circumstances can be difficult but when you factor in a level of domestic abuse it can often become a contested divorce because the abusive spouse doesn’t want to let you go.
Common signs of coercive control
There tend to be more female than male victims of coercive control, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous for men. Any victim should feel safe when seeking help regardless of gender. Helping those who are being subjected to this form of abuse means educating them on the signs that they are being victimized by their spouse. The below signs will give you a good overview of exactly what coercive control is.
Watch out for a spouse who:
- Isolates you from your family, friends, and colleagues to make it more difficult to share what’s happening in your life so that you can seek help.
- Keeps constant tabs on what you’re doing by installing cameras or listening devices.
- Limits where you can go alone, and even follows you to make sure you don’t break any rules your spouse has set.
- Gaslights you regularly to keep you mentally off balance through manipulative tactics.
- Verbally abuses you and you begin to adopt negative feelings about yourself as a result of those derogatory comments or names.
- Limits your financial freedom by withholding all debit or credit cards, passwords to accounts, hiding assets and tracking every dime you spend.
- Wants a traditional marriage in the sense that stereotypical gender roles are fulfilled where the man works and makes the decisions while the woman is the subservient caretaker.
- Turns your children against you by disregarding your parental authority, talking badly about you and allowing them to treat you with disrespect.
- Makes your healthcare decisions, including when you can seek care and for what conditions.
- Controls your eating, sleeping, exercise, and other necessary functions.
- Makes jealous accusations because you spend even a short amount of time engaging with anyone else in an effort to manipulate you into cutting yourself off from everyone.
- Becomes demanding and controlling in the bedroom, even going as far as to force you into having children as a means to effect deeper control by threatening them.
Many of these actions are reinforced through threats of violence, if not violence itself.
Protecting yourself once you leave
Making the choice to leave and following through is the hardest part of escaping an abusive spouse. You may have a valid fear that once you leave the abuse will continue even from a distance. You have a right to start your life over without interference from your soon-to-be ex. One way you may be able to put a stop to the harassment and psychological hold he or she has over you is by seeking an order of protection.
The purpose of an order of protection is to stop any activity that is violent or that you perceive as threatening to you and/or your children.
We can help you prove coercive control as part of a domestic violence ground for divorce through emails, text messages, voicemail messages, and even a detailed diary you have maintained describing the behavior of your spouse. You do not have to continue living your life in fear.
The compassionate Maryville family law attorneys at Shepherd & Long, P.C. are here to protect your right to move on even when your abusive spouse doesn’t want to let go. We work with abuse survivors across East Tennessee to provide as seamless a divorce process as possible. Schedule your free consultation today by calling a member of our caring legal team at 865-982-8060, or we invite you to complete our contact form.