Hidden Mental Health Harm in Intimate Relationships

4 Detrimental Effects of Coercive Control

Posted Jan 19, 2017

Coercive control, also called psychological abuse, is elusive, destructive, and often overlooked. Whether you’re concerned about your intimate relationship or helping someone you suspect is abused, it’s important to know the signs of coercive control.

During their lifetime, 4 in 10 women and 4 in 10 men endure at least one type of coercive control by an intimate partner.

Psychological aggression includes threatening and angry gestures, degrading remarks, insults, humiliation, and coercive control.

Psychological abuse is far more detrimental than physical abuse because it’s hard to recognize and often doesn't get identified.

A partner may use psychological abuse in an intimate relationship to gain power and control over the other. The process is slow and insidious while coercive tactics don't always reveal the hurtful impact that’s taking place.  It's necessary to look at the effects on the unsuspecting targeted person to recognize what is happening.

4 Detrimental Effects of Coercive Control

1.  Psychological abuse impacts your psyche and sense of wellbeing to the same extent as physical abuse.

Psychological abuse creates hidden injuries that can affect your life dramatically because they target your thoughts, feelings, and perception. Yet, someone suffering from coercive control may not realize the cause is abuse from an intimate partner.

2.  Psychological abuse causes a serious decline in mental health.

Even subtle psychological abuse (undermining and discounting)—without overt psychological abuse (dominating, demeaning) or physical violence—can be traumatizing. Mental health conditions include profound fear, depression, anxiety, low-self esteem, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

3.  Psychologically abused people score lower on self-efficacy. In other words, a person's ability to feel empowered in making a difference in their relationship or life than for those who are not abused.

Those affected are in a unhealthy mental state and often do not seek help or leave an abusive relationship.

4.  Psychologically abused people tend to erroneously blame themselves for the abuse they endure. However, this situation is a smokescreen used by the abuser to keep the abused unaware of what is happening to them.

Feelings of low self-esteem and poor self-worth caused or exacerbated by a partner’s psychological abuse make it more likely that they will attribute the abuse they receive to their own personal faults. The abused are less apt to see a problem with the relationship or their partner. 

Coercive control or psychological abuse in intimate relationships too often the hurtful component of a troubling relationship. As we enter 2017, many of my future posts will be dedicated to raising awareness about this important topic and opening up the pathway for recovery to those in need.

© Carol A Lambert