I came upon a few news articles this week on the subject of coercive control - they had been prompted by the sentencing of Jordan Worth, a British 22-year-old graduate who pleaded guilty to controlling or coercive behaviour within an intimate relationship, wounding with intent and causing grievous bodily harm.
Worth had subjected their long-term partner to a list of abusive behaviours which included scalding them with hot water - culminating in hospitalisation - causing injury with a knife and striking them with blunt objects. As for the coercion - Worth had isolated their partner from their friends and family and exercised control of many areas of their life. The partner was told what to wear, where they could sleep (being banned from their bed for some months), and controlled communication by taking over their Facebook account.
This may or may not surprise you - but Jordan Worth is a woman. Her partner is male. He lived under these conditions in their relationship for over a year. He was described as "ten days away from death" when medics and police intervened. She is the first British woman to be convicted of this crime since its recognition in 2015.
Many of us will know someone who has at one time described some of these abuses of intimacy and power within a relationship - though hopefully few who have experienced such extreme abuse as this. I wish I could say that hearing about these kinds of things was unusual for me as a private therapist. But it's not. Most often I hear about them after the fact - much after, usually years - when the victim has somehow released themselves from the relationship and the toxic erosion of their self-esteem. And it can take some years for that to repair, particularly outside of therapy.
While I am pleased that it seems that male victims are beginning to be taken seriously when reporting crimes of physical and emotional violence against them - it does not hearten me to hear of this kind of story. Not for the victim, nor for the perpetrator. Jordan Worth has received a sentence of seven and a half years for the abuse that she subjected her partner to (whom I won't name on my blog). That's two lives which have been severely damaged. For her partner, unfortunately, it may affect him psychologically for the rest of his life.
If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control in a relationship the time to act is now. To re-create connections with friends and family - to reach out to those from whom we might have become isolated. To allow them to ground us and ensure that the version of reality that we subscribe to is not the creation of someone who might not have the best intentions for us. To allow them to remind us that we are lovable and loved.
You can read more about this instance of coercive control here:
To get help with a coercive relationship speak to friends and family about your situation - or contact a therapist who is experienced in dealing with relationship issues. In severe instances, it is advisable to involve the police.
If this is something that affects you, and you would like to discuss further in therapy then you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your first free 10-minute phone consultation where everything we discuss is confidential, and you can decide whether to book an introductory session.
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.