The Silent Chains | Coercive Control and the Women It Silences

I am successful. I have climbed the corporate ladder, defied societal expectations, and built a life I am proud of. Yet, for many years, I carried a secret shame, a burden that chipped away at my self-worth and spirit – I was a victim of coercive control.

Coercive control, often the "hidden side" of domestic abuse, is a systematic and insidious form of psychological manipulation used to gain power and dominance over a partner. Unlike physical abuse, it leaves no visible scars, making it difficult to identify and even harder to leave.

The Insidious Creep of Control

It doesn't start dramatically. It begins with subtle tactics like excessive monitoring of your phone, constant criticism disguised as "concern," or subtle guilt-tripping to isolate you from friends and family. Over time, these seemingly innocuous actions create a web of control, slowly eroding your sense of self-confidence and autonomy.

I remember feeling constantly on edge, walking on eggshells around my partner, second-guessing every decision, and apologising for things I hadn't done. My once vibrant social life dwindled, replaced by an intense focus on managing his moods and keeping the peace.

Breaking Down the Barriers: Why Wealth Doesn't Equal Protection

The myth that coercive control only affects vulnerable individuals is deeply concerning. It's a misconception that often silences the stories of successful and seemingly independent women like myself. We are often perceived as having the resources and support to escape, leading to a dangerous invisibility when we experience this form of abuse.

The reality is, wealth provides no shield against this insidious form of manipulation. The abuser may exploit our achievements, twisting them into justifications for control. They may use financial dependence as a weapon, threatening to cut off access to shared resources or isolate us from professional networks.

This perception of "having it all" can also lead to societal blame and victim-shaming. The question, "Why didn't you just leave?" ignores the complex dynamics of coercive control and the significant emotional manipulation that makes it incredibly difficult to break free.

Professional Examples: Shattering the Myth

The reality is, coercive control transcends socioeconomic boundaries. Here are just a few examples:

  • The CEO: Imagine a high-powered female executive whose partner constantly undermines her professional decisions, subtly implying she wouldn't be successful without him.
  • The Doctor: Consider a brilliant doctor whose partner controls her finances, dictates her schedule, and isolates her from colleagues, diminishing her sense of agency and professional identity.
  • The Entrepreneur: Picture a thriving entrepreneur whose partner constantly criticizes her business ideas, leaving her questioning her capabilities and stifling her entrepreneurial spirit.

Breaking the Silence, Reclaiming Our Voices

Sharing my story is not about dwelling on the past, but about empowering others. It's a call to action to recognise the insidious nature of coercive control, regardless of wealth or social status.

If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing this hidden form of abuse, please know you are not alone. There are resources and support available.

Together, let's break the silence and empower ourselves and others to reclaim their lives and thrive.

A huge win in the Queensland Courts today:

Queensland has become only the second jurisdiction in Australia to criminalise coercive control.

The landmark legislation passed in state parliament on Wednesday, more than four years after the tragic deaths of Hannah Clarke and her young children.

I can only imagine, how Hannah's parents are feeling right now...what amazing people to put themselves out there and continue the fight for criminalisation..I honour their strength.

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