So little is understood about coercive control, which was not even recognised as a form of abuse until it became illegal under the 2015 Serious Crimes Act.
The new Domestic Abuse Bill seeks to define it as: Behaviour that isolates the victim from support, limiting freedoms, making the victim feel bad, or responsible, and impacting their health and well-being.
In reality it is very hidden and can be covert and hard to identify. How do you evidence “he gave me that look and I knew I was in trouble”?
In a case in Manchester Magistrates Court this week father and son, Salamat and Abbas Khan, were both found guilty of coercively controlling two of Khan’s daughters and his wife Zahida Begum.
Two older daughters had be ostracised from the family by the men for marrying the men they chose to. Salamat Khan had declared them “dead to the family” and was determined that Madina and Maryha would not be allowed any opportunity to do they same.
The two young women were kept as prisoners in the family home, forced to work as unpaid domestic servants, never allowed contact with the outside word.
The men insisted that property in the women’s names be transferred to them. Partly for control but also so that Abbas could satisfy immigration regulations to bring his wife to the UK from Pakistan.
The men will shortly be sentenced to custody and/or a fine as opposed to the maximum 5 years imprisonment if they had been convicted in the Crown Court.
What this case gives us is an assurance that coercive control, provided it is properly identified and understood, will be treated as the criminal act that it is. In this case the abuse was more obvious that most.
Blog by Cris McCurley, Partner