Public understanding of controlling or coercive behaviour

Do the majority of the public recognise abusive controlling and coercive behaviours? Research shows that many instances of the offence remain unreported and this project is designed to develop a deeper understanding of these offences and the public's perception of them. 

Manipulation large


Research background 

Coercive and controlling behaviours were introduced into the UK definition of domestic violence in 2015. This is defined as; “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality” (Home Office, 2015). Since its implementation, recorded offences have steadily increased; in the year ending March 2018, 9,053 were recorded (ONS, 2018). When observing Crown Prosecution Service statistics, there were 5 offences where prosecution commenced in the year ending March 2016, this increased to 309 offences in the year ending March 2017, and they increased to 906 offences in the year ending March 2018 (ONS, 2019). However, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg, as many incidents remain unreported or unrecognised.

Research aims 

The project aims to explore and further understand coercive and controlling behaviours, by exploring public understanding and experiences of coercive and controlling behaviours. The research will investigate this through a series of mixed methods studies, utilising both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Projected outcomes 

It is hoped that the research will provide comprehensive insights into coercive and controlling behaviours, specifically focusing on how people understand and make sense of these. These, might, in turn, help inform current policy and practice.

This project is ongoing.