We have the definition for coercive control, in the wheel of power and control, but we are too afraid to use it, because we are afraid that victims will be arrested. We are afraid of the narrative and reality that abusers have created through the use of coercive control.
We are helpless when it comes to stopping abusers who use coercive control, because Coercive Control is not defined in our current statutes.
Because the definitions of coercive control are not included in the statutes, law enforcement officers cannot make arrests; judicial officers cannot assign sentences; and victims and their children continue in the cycle of domestic violence.
A victim can show physical abuse, because physical abuse has a definition.
A victim cannot show verbal or emotional abuse because neither verbal nor emotional abuse have definitions.
Here’s the good news: They are defined. They are defined as coercive control.
Too often, victims refuse to press charges against abusers — because of coercive control. Victims’ realities are changed because the abusers control their victim’s realities: Victims feel guilty and/or they are shamed when their abusers are arrested. So victims cry and ask the judge to release their abuser. These victims become known as “frequent flyers”, are shamed by society, and the cycle continues.
Or the victims speak up, but their abusers are able to use coercive control to give their victims just enough doubt in themselves, so that the Victims appear to be lying — or to be crazy — to law enforcement and/or judicial officials.
Most victims do not speak up. Most victims are too busy trying to survive. Most victims are being convinced– coerced — into believing temporarily that there is no problem — until the cycle starts again in their lives, and into the next generation — Some children grow up to be abusers.
Many victims are unable to contribute fully in completing their responsibilities. They walk on eggshells. They are distracted. They lose focus. They cannot parent their children. They can be explosive in their emotions, as a result of keeping everything inside, and releasing everything when anyone will listen.
I understand that victims, not abusers, have been arrested. I believe that additional education about abuse, especially coercive control, will empower law enforcement officers, judicial officials, and victims. If coercive control is in the statutes, the number of victims who are arrested will lessen, because victims will have a voice.
As you read this, another child cries themselves to sleep, confused and exhausted at the emotional maltreatment that they are witnessing and experiencing. Another victim contemplates suicide, but is left feeling guilty that they would abandon their survivor.
We must not let fear hold us back from doing the right thing. Coercive Control is a crime and must be stopped.