domestic abuse support knowsley sefton

Domestic Abuse Campaign launches to Spot the Signs of Controlling Behaviour

Press Release

Controlling money, always criticising and being purposely isolated from friends and family are just some of the examples being highlighted as ‘coercive control’ in a new campaign on Domestic Abuse to be launched across Knowsley and Sefton on 23rd July 2018.

‘Escape the Control’, which is being run jointly by Knowsley and Sefton Councils, aims to help people understand how extreme controlling behaviour is Domestic Abuse and what signs to look out for, if concerned about friends or family.

Coercive control is an act, or a pattern of acts such as threats, humiliation and intimidation that is used to punish or frighten the victim. This can include things like controlling where they go and what they do, or exaggerated expressions of love such as they ‘can’t live without you’. In 2015, coercive control became a crime in England and Wales, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine.

Posters and leaflets explaining the signs to look out for will be available from next week in GP and Health Centres, Leisure Centres, Dentists, Hairdressers and many more everyday locations where victims and those worried about others can access them without having to go through official channels.

‘Escape the Control’ will also be featured across buses, taxis and fire engines in Knowsley and Sefton directing people to more information on the Escape the Control website.

Councillor Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods for Knowsley Borough Council says:

“Insight from Knowsley and Sefton indicates that although anyone can experience domestic abuse irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, the majority of cases are amongst women under 35. We need to ensure that people understand that extreme controlling behaviour such as telling what you can and can’t eat, or what you can or can’t wear, is domestic abuse and where they can find more information and support.”

Domestic Abuse is an issue which affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men, accounting for 16% of all violent crime, with more repeat victims than any other crime. (British Crime Survey).

Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, Trish Hardy, says:

“The number of people accessing domestic abuse support services continues to increase, with the number of high-risk clients being supported increasing by 63% between 2013/14 and 2014/15. Extreme controlling behaviour or coercive control often begins very slowly and can be hard to understand. We want people to be aware of the signs, both for themselves and for friends and family and to know what to do in that situation.”

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside Emily Spurrell says:

“I welcome this new campaign to highlight the signs of controlling behaviour and how individuals can help themselves or others. Everyone has the right to live free of fear. If you are unreasonably under suspicion from your partner or a member of your family to the point where you are unable to remain in contact with your circle of friends; if you are constantly questioned about who you were talking to or who you were texting; perhaps you have no access to money, even the money you earn. This is coercive control which is domestic abuse and that is a crime. Merseyside Police take coercive control extremely seriously and would urge anyone with concerns to report it.”

Dr Emma Katz, Lecturer in Childhood and Youth at Liverpool Hope University, has carried out in-depth research into the impact of coercive control. She says:

“Coercive control is at the core of a lot of cases of domestic abuse. The perpetrator uses coercive and controlling behaviours to gain all the privileges, freedoms, power and rights in the relationship, while leaving the victim with none. They want the victim’s life to become all about pleasing the perpetrator and doing what the perpetrator wants. Due to the fact that perpetrators are extremely clever at excusing, minimising, justifying and denying their behaviour, the partner or family member may have little understanding of domestic abuse and may not realise that they are experiencing it.”

More information about the Escape the Control Campaign is available at: or you can follow the campaign at:, and hashtag #escapethecontrol

For further information and available interviews contact

Notes to Editors:

You can find more information including a leaflet explaining what coercive control is and the signs to look out for at

Dr Emma Katz, Liverpool Hope University lists six facts about Coercive Control:

1. Rather than arising from conflict or stress, coercive control is used to suppress
potential conflicts and stop challenges to perpetrators’ authority (Stark, 2007).

2. Although some perpetrators use physical violence frequently, others use little or
none; instead preferring to maintain dominance over their partner through
psychological abuse and the control of time, movement and activities (Westmarland
and Kelly, 2013; Johnson, 2008). Physical violence can be seen as a tactic of last
resort for perpetrators as it is more likely to draw attention to their abuse.

3. Victims/survivors experience coercive control-based domestic abuse as ongoing and
cumulative, not as separate ‘episodes’ or ‘incidents’ (Morris, 2009; Stark, 2007,

4. Perpetrators of coercive control engage in minimising, denying and blaming others
for their abusive behaviours (Lehmann et al., 2012).

5. Perpetrators often claim to be the real victim in the relationship (Bancroft et al.,
2012; Morris, 2009) and can present themselves as charming and heroic (Morris,
2009; Stark, 2007).

6. Perpetrators often have a highly inflated sense of entitlement: they believe their needs come first and that their partner and children should make pleasing them
their priority (Bancroft, 2002).