Coercive Relationships: What They Are and How To Help Someone Who is In One


By: Isabella Carson

Many people know someone who is stuck in a controlling and abusive relationship. The abuse may not be physical but the verbal and mental abuse is still there. Their partner will talk down to them, isolate them, and coerce them to do whatever they want. In between these periods of abuse they will show affection so that they can string the person along and keep them around. If you know someone in a relationship like this you must be very careful about what you say as you could make the situation even worse. Here are some ways to help a friend stuck in a controlling relationship from Dr. Lisa Aronson Fontes:

1. Do not tell them what to do: Never tell the victim of a controlling relationship what to do. You do not know what the true inside of the home is like and you could compromise their safety even if you are just trying to help.

2. Listen: When your friend talks about their emotions and what is happening with them do not criticize them or judge them. Listen to them and express your concern. Let them know that you are there for them.

3. Ask: Ask your friend how you can help them. Do not promise things that you cannot do for them. Even small favors such as babysitting children or giving them a place to stay for a few nights can be extremely helpful.

4. Materials: There are a lot of reading materials out there that describe abusive relationships and help to get the victims out. If your friend has a safe place that they can keep these materials give them some to look over.

5. Advice: Even though you may mean well you must be very careful about the advice that you give someone in a coercive relationship. For example if you tell them to call the police or get a restraining order you may think you are giving them the right advice but this could make things much worse. Often times when the authorities are brought into a situation like this the abusive party will turn to violence because they are angry that they are no longer in control.

6. Professional Help: When all else fails suggest that professional help is in order. If they are able to suggest some therapists in the area that they can go to. A professional may be able to give them good tips on how to get out of the relationship.


Leave A Reply