How social workers can identify coercive and controlling behaviour

Community Care Inform’s guide to identifying coercive and controlling behaviour is now available as a free download to support all practitioners

Credit: Daniel Coulmann/fotolia

By Kate Snowdon

Coercive and controlling behaviour is a feature of domestic abuse and gender-based violence, issues that have risen to the top of the social work agenda during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lockdowns and rising unemployment have forced more people indoors, with less access to support, creating situations where coercive and controlling behaviour is more likely to go unchecked.

In order to support the practitioners working with people in these difficult situations, and to thank all social workers for their incredible work, Community Care is making a number of specialist resources freely available. As of today, all social workers have access to Community Care Inform’s quick guide on how to identify coercive and controlling behaviour, written by Kate Butterby for Inform Children and Inform Adults. The guide is available as a free, downloadable PDF to help social workers support people both experiencing and perpetrating coercive and controlling behaviours.

The guide briefly explores what coercive and controlling behaviour looks like, and when it occurs, with specific sections on threats and humiliation, financial abuse, surveillance and deprivation. It also discusses the specifics of abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships and the effects of coercive control on children. It contains a number of practice tips that may help you and your practice.

Click here to download the guide to identifying coercive and controlling behaviour.

What’s in the guide?

The guide is written by Kate Butterby, who is a post-doctoral research associate at Durham University. Kate conducts research into child abuse and neglect, violence and abuse, and has previously worked on research into same-sex partner abuse. The guide includes:

  • An understanding of what coercive and controlling behaviour is, and why perpetrators use it.
  • The impact that coercive control has on people experiencing or witnessing it, particularly children and people in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • How to spot the signs of coercive control, and what to do next.

The guide considers key evidence, policy, guidance and law to ensure the most relevant information on the topic of coercive and controlling behaviour.

Click here to download the guide on how to identify coercive and controlling behaviour.

More from Community Care Inform

Community Care Inform Children and Community Care Inform Adults provide online resources for subscribing social workers and social care professionals. If you have a licence through your employer or institution, you might also find the links below particularly useful at this time.

Self-care and Covid-19: podcast and transcript

Use of self and emotional intelligence: quick guide for practice educators

Managing fear in social work

Fear and social work: podcast and transcript

Loneliness and isolation during the pandemic: podcast and transcript

Not sure if you have a licence?

A large number of local authorities and universities work with us so do ask your manager, principal social worker or learning and development team if you have access, or contact our helpdesk by email or phone (0203 915 9444). You can also enquire about new subscriptions.

You can read extracts from other Community Care Inform resources here.

More from Community Care

One Response to How social workers can identify coercive and controlling behaviour

  1. Carol April 24, 2021 at 1:44 pm #

    I know that social workers have to look at things from a child’s perspective and focus on the welfare of a child but in 2021 it is still shocking how some professionals ‘still don’t get’ victims situations where there is coercive and controlling behaviour.

    A person may be in a ‘toxic’ relationship but that doesn’t always mean that they are ‘toxic and should take blame.

    There has to be more training on this type of abuse because victims are afraid to speak out. They are fearful of the abuser but another fear is that they, the victim in all this, will be judged by social workers as putting their child at risk and will eventually lose their child into care.