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Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports

Updated: Apr 17

Domestic and family violence (DFV) remains a pervasive issue, predominantly impacting women and children. Among the behaviors associated with DFV perpetration, coercive control stands out as a particularly insidious form of abuse.


Defined as a pattern of behaviors aimed at harming, punishing, or frightening a victim, coercive control encompasses various forms of abuse, from emotional to social and financial manipulation. In this paper, we delve into the analysis of DFV police reports to explore the prevalence of coercive control behaviors, shedding light on their distribution by age and sex.


Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports
Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports

Methods

One study utilized an adapted rule-based text mining method to identify 48 coercive control-related behaviors from a dataset of 406,196 DFV reports involving a single person of interest (POI) and a single victim recorded by the NSW Police Force between 2009 and 2020.


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Results

Analysis revealed that 223,778 (54.6%) DFV events contained at least one identifiable coercive control behavior. The most common behaviors observed were verbal abuse (38.9%) and property damage (30.0%), while financial (3.2%) and social abuse (0.4%) were less frequently reported. Interestingly, no significant differences were found in the proportion of DFV events between male and female POIs or victims.


Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports
Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports

In terms of age distribution, DFV events involving the oldest POI group (≥ 65 years) exhibited a higher prevalence of verbal abuse (38.0%), while those involving the youngest POI group reported the highest proportion of property damage incidents (45.5%). Among victims, the youngest age group (< 18 years old) experienced a higher prevalence of verbal abuse (37.3%), whereas victims aged 18-24 reported more instances of harassment through phone calls and text messages (3.1% and 2.4%, respectively).


Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports
Unveiling Coercive Control: Insights from Domestic and Family Violence Police Reports

The analysis underscores the richness of police data in capturing various behaviors associated with coercive control across different age groups and sexes. While text mining proved effective in identifying such behaviors, the underreporting of social and financial abuse highlights the need for enhanced police training to recognize and address these forms of manipulation during DFV interventions.


Gaining deeper insights into the prevalence and distribution of coercive control behaviors, we can better inform prevention and intervention strategies aimed at combating DFV and promoting safer communities for all.


Violence Prevention and Self Defense Resources

The Center for Violence Prevention and Self Defense (CVPSD) is a non profit 501(C)(3) with a mission to stop violence by educating at-risk people and empower them with the skills needed to protect themselves by providing online and live training. 


Through workshops and seminars we educate participants about violence prevention and guide them on assessing risk factors while establishing boundaries in relationships. Additionally practical self defense classes equip people with hands on skills and effective strategies to prevent and intervene in cases of assault. CVPSD reaches individuals and communities through partnerships with schools and other nonprofits, community groups, as well as classes for the public.

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