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Unveiling Post-Separation Abuse and Coercive Control: Top 10 Signs and What You Can Do About It



coercive control

Navigating life after a separation or divorce can be emotionally challenging, but what happens when the challenges extend beyond the legal proceedings? Post-separation abuse and coercive control are often overlooked aspects of ending a relationship, yet they can have profound and lasting effects on one's well-being and ability to care for the children. 


Here are the top 10 signs of post-separation abuse and coercive control:

  1. Monitoring and Surveillance: One of the earliest signs of post-separation abuse is the obsessive monitoring and surveillance of their co-parent’s activities. This can manifest in constant texts, calls, or emails, tracking their movements, or even installing spyware on their devices or location tracking on the kids’ electronics. They will also use Facetime as an opportunity to see around the other parent’s home. 

  2. Threats and Intimidation: Abusers may use threats and intimidation to maintain control over their ex-partner, often making covert or explicit threats of violence, harm to themselves, or taking legal action to manipulate and instill fear. They make these threats to silence their victims and guilt them into submission. 

  3. Isolation from Support Networks: Coercive control often involves isolating the victim from their friends, family, and support networks. Abusers may undermine relationships, spread rumors, or restrict access to communication channels to prevent the victim from seeking help.

  4. Financial Abuse: Financial abuse is another common tactic used by abusers to exert control. This may involve withholding financial resources, sabotaging employment opportunities, or coercing the co-parent into financial dependency.

  5. Gaslighting and Manipulation: They will use gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation aimed at making their co-parent doubt their perceptions, memories, and sanity. Abusers may deny or minimize their abusive behavior, blame the victim, or distort reality to undermine their confidence and sense of reality.

  6. Weaponizing Children: Abusers may continue to exert control over their ex-partner through coercive weaponization of the children. They will use the kids as pawn in order to exert dominance over their coparent or to inflict pain by withholding the children. They will also deny or neglect the children’s basic needs forcing the coparent to go out of their way to buy all the children’s clothing, maintain health appointments, or sustain their education and extracurricular/social development. 

  7. Stalking and Harassment: Stalking and harassment are serious forms of post-separation abuse that can escalate into dangerous situations. This may involve following their co-parent, showing up uninvited, sending excessive messages, or engaging in online or in-person harassment and slandering of their co-parent to those within the community, mutual friends, or family. 

  8. Parental Alienation: The coercive coparent may engage in parental alienation tactics to undermine the other parent’s relationship with their children. This may include badmouthing the mom/dad to the children, manipulating visitation schedules, infringing on the other parent’s time, or withholding access to the children or vacations with the other parent as a form of punishment.

  9. Emotional and Psychological Abuse: Emotional abuse is pervasive in post-separation abuse and can take many forms, including verbal attacks, belittling, humiliation, and controlling behavior aimed at diminishing their co-parent’s self-worth and autonomy. Years of emotional and psychological coercion often leave co-parents with PTSD and in a constant state of trauma response. 

  10. Legal Abuse: Abusers may weaponize the legal system as a means of furthering their control and harassment. This can involve filing frivolous lawsuits, making false accusations, or using court proceedings to intimidate and exhaust their coparent financially and emotionally until they give up. Rarely, do they want to attend mediation and come to a fair resolution. 


coercive control


What Are The Next Steps: 

If you recognize any of these signs in your own situation or that of someone you know, it's crucial to take action to protect yourself or offer support. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Reach out for Support: Don't hesitate to seek support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can offer guidance and assistance and are well-versed in coercive control. To set up a consult, click here.

  • Document the Abuse: Keep detailed records of all abusive incidents, including dates, times, and specific behaviors. This documentation can be valuable evidence if legal action becomes necessary.

  • Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with the coercive coparent and communicate with them assertively and confidently. Limit communication to written only for co-parenting during your “business days and hours of availability”.  For more on co-parenting boundaries check out our book, BOUNDARY BADASS.

  • Seek Legal Assistance: If you're experiencing post-separation abuse, consider consulting with a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence or coercive control to explore legal options for protection.

  • Practice Self-Care: Prioritize daily self-care and mental health support to cope with the emotional toll of post-separation abuse. This may involve therapy, support groups, or other wellness practices.

  • Educate Yourself: Educate yourself about post-separation abuse and coercive control to better understand your situation and identify strategies for staying safe, emotionally regulated, and protecting yourself and children. 

Post-separation abuse and coercive control are serious issues that can have profound and lasting effects on survivors. By recognizing the signs and taking proactive steps to protect yourself or support others, you can break free from the cycle of abuse and reclaim your autonomy and well-being. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you navigate this challenging journey toward healing and empowerment.

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