Coercive Control

coercive control

Content Warning: Sociology. Language. Misogyny.

I miss teaching so I’m going to use this thread as my classroom. I want to discuss a term I dislike versus a term I prefer. I dislike the term domestic violence. I prefer coercive control. Here’s why.

I became a battered woman after a man trapped me in what some people euphemistically term a “relationship.” I reject that euphemism because it implies that he and I engaged in a consensual romance. That was not the case. My batterer prevented me from fleeing by using threats, violence, surveillance, stalking, and micro-regulating my day-to-day life. For three years, an “or else” proviso hung over me. It hangs over every battered woman: Stay or this man may kill you.

The threat of femicide hangs over every battered woman.

In this US, men murder four female partners a day and men often kill after a woman flees. If we follow the headlines, we’ll notice that these misogynists frequently have two letters in front of their “romantic” status: ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, ex-fiancé…

Forensic sociologist Evan Stark argues that the domestic violence model fails to capture the true scope of harm perpetrated by batterers. The DV model focuses on discrete acts of violence, a punch here, a slap there, a threat here.

This model obscures the totality of the crime, ignoring the *effect* of the batterer’s actions, the *environment* he engineers. That environment is a cage tailor-made for the battered woman. Stark argues that instead of looking at what batterers do to women, we ought to consider what batterers *take* from women. They take our freedom. They create a hostage-like situation that they *force* us to endure.

Enter coercive control. Coercive control re-frames the battering of women as a liberty crime.

The batterer’s aim isn’t to inflict occasional violence during “interpersonal conflict.” The batterer’s aim, and make no mistake, coercive control is a *gendered* crime facilitated by male privilege, is the total domination of another human being.

Coercive control results in the subjugation of women in private life and it involves a technology of its own. I’ll be discussing this technology in a follow up thread.

This post originally appeared as a thread on Twitter. Click below to read the original thread and any comments.