Coercive control is a crime. If you think you're experiencing it, you can report it to the police or get a court order to protect yourself or both.
You don't have to try and get a conviction to get protection. You can get protection through a court order.
If found guilty in a criminal trial, a convicted person could spend up to 5 years in prison or pay a fine or both.
They could also be convicted and sentenced for other connected crimes, such as assault (for physical attacks), sexual assault, or criminal damage.
Getting a conviction
For your abuser to be convicted of coercive control:
- their behaviour must have had a serious effect on you
- they must have done it repeatedly (at least two times) or continuously
- they must have known or should have known it would have a serious effect on you
- they must be 'personally connected' to you – that means as a partner, ex or a relative
If the abuser isn't personally connected – such as a neighbour, friend, stranger or colleague – you may be able to get protection under Harassment laws instead.
A serious effect could be something that caused you:
- to fear violence at least twice
- serious alarm or distress that makes you change your day-to-day life
Changes to your day-to-day life could include:
- how or when you see friends or family
- how and when you work or study
- a decline in your physical or mental health
- how you live at home, such as having to protect yourself or your children
Someone can only be convicted of coercive or controlling behaviour happening after 29 December 2015, the date when the law came into force.