#thisiscoercivecontrol

You can share your own experience of coercive control or domestic abuse anonymously here on this site.

This site is inspired by viewers of Open Clasp Theatre Company’s play ‘Rattle Snake’.

It is based on real life stories of women who have faced and survived coercive controlling domestic abuse.

The women had been silenced, not believed or legally gagged. This play gives them a voice.

We want this site to give you a voice.

Share your own experience of coercive control or domestic abuse anonymously here (if you don’t want to share your name, please write Anon). Your story will stand alongside others.

Scroll down for information about staying safe online and support.

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8 entries.
KIM
I was working with families in crisis, I was a professional, I was equipped to deal with all levels of crisis. I was also controlled and abused! How did it start? The little suggestions, “Don’t wear that, wear this, I like you better in that.” “Don’t go out tonight, lets have a quiet night in.” In time enough i was not seeing my friends, I was hiding behind clothes that left me feeling frumpy, unattractive but that was better than reprimands and negative comments. I was living a life of two half’s, the calm, in control work me and the... Read more
I was working with families in crisis, I was a professional, I was equipped to deal with all levels of crisis. I was also controlled and abused!
How did it start? The little suggestions, “Don’t wear that, wear this, I like you better in that.”
“Don’t go out tonight, lets have a quiet night in.”
In time enough i was not seeing my friends, I was hiding behind clothes that left me feeling frumpy, unattractive but that was better than reprimands and negative comments.
I was living a life of two half’s, the calm, in control work me and the terrified of getting it wrong, waiting with baited breathe me.
I learnt to make dinner better, ironed his shirts the way he liked them to be done, made sure his every need was catered for . Where did it leave me? Feeling useless, less than a woman or wife should ever be. I questioned my every move or thought.
Should i take a stand and tell him where to go? Don’t be daft If I did things right in the first place he would be happy, would still love me, would find me attractive. He doesn’t mean the things he says, i get him angry, it is my fault!
STOP!
NONE OF THESE LIES ARE TRUE!
These are the warped reality of someone who uses coercive control for this own ends.I am not going to begiin to try and figure out buy . All I need to know is it was never my fault! What ever I did was always going to be wrong!
I do not need to share the details of my story, it is a story that is told time and time again across the world.
What i do want to tell is you can leave, you can move on and you heal.
If you are planning to leave please get help, create a safety plan. Your safety is paramount.
Does a rattlesnake ever change its bite? I was listening to a song called “the snake” by Al Wilson over Christmas after watching Rattle Snake online. I also had an encounter (no surprise) with my very own snake on Christmas and day after Boxing Day with police involvement again! The story was almost a mirror reflection of my life. The song brought the play very much into stark focus for me as sadly in my case the rattlesnake managed to slither away after biting repeatedly, merely slithering into retreat to avoid capture, more so biding time before striking again. This... Read more
Does a rattlesnake ever change its bite?
I was listening to a song called “the snake” by Al Wilson over Christmas after watching Rattle Snake online. I also had an encounter (no surprise) with my very own snake on Christmas and day after Boxing Day with police involvement again!
The story was almost a mirror reflection of my life. The song brought the play very much into stark focus for me as sadly in my case the rattlesnake managed to slither away after biting repeatedly, merely slithering into retreat to avoid capture, more so biding time before striking again.
This has been the almost melodic way of life for the last seven years since splitting from my ex, advancing and retreating in some sick contemporary dance.
I refuse to retreat completely as then he has the power, however, I feign retreat at times in hope to draw the snake into the open, which sometimes happens and the emergency services can protect us once more. Not for long though as I know this just becomes a period of hibernation for the snake until temperatures are best suited to their needs.
Seven long years of him showing up outside my parents house which is miles and miles away from anyone he knows, sending changes of bank details to my home of accounts I know nothing about, contacting and disrupting my work by making false complaints, reporting me to HMRC for tax fraud which has always been proven to be false but they have to investigate, alongside the social media outbursts and the odd message off people I don’t know calling me awful things because of my terrible behaviour towards a lovely man.
Getting back to the song, it occurred to me that I am not this snakes only victim, there are others before and after me, some remarried and still getting “bitten” by the same snake 17years down the line, myself it’s 7years and for the ones after approximately 7months. You see the pattern!
The knowledge that said snake has mental health issues, in this day and age people sympathise with that but the type he has and is driven by gives him a penchant for striking at those close to him that he sees as vulnerable and yet still nothing has done.
Conditions of court that are actually used by him as a cloak of nefarious anonymity rather than a means to prevent future bad behaviour, always the table turned on the vulnerable. Even the polices hands are tied and gagged so they cannot protect potential victims.
As per the song, the lady takes in a frozen snake, nurtures it back to health for the snake to bite her with its fangs of venom. Upon saying to the snake I looked after you and you bit me for the snake to reply, but you knew I was a snake when you took me in. It gives pause to reason, a leopard can’t change its spots and a snake that has repeatedly bitten has no willing to change when no real consequences have ever be felt for biting.
At which point can we protect ourselves months and years down the line from the recurring pest that blights our lives so badly.
Quite simply, we can’t. The system couldn’t cope, the judicial system is so flawed it cannot deal with emotional abuse no matter the amount of supporting evidence that can be proven. Until the fundamentals of the law are changed and the ability for the CPS to charge cases this story will be just like mine, and the people before and after me, just another fandango replicated in many households with masses of unwilling dancers across the world.
Kerry
If anyone had of said to me that I would end up in a controlling relationship, I would have laughed in their face. I didn’t (and to a point, still don’t) consider the myself to be the type of person that would end up in abusive or controlling relationship. Of course, now I realise that not only can it happen to absolutely everyone, it does actually happen to people of all ages, all genders and social classes. The problem is that everything we have ever been told about abusive relationships and abusers themselves is completely wrong. The fact is that... Read more
If anyone had of said to me that I would end up in a controlling relationship, I would have laughed in their face. I didn’t (and to a point, still don’t) consider the myself to be the type of person that would end up in abusive or controlling relationship. Of course, now I realise that not only can it happen to absolutely everyone, it does actually happen to people of all ages, all genders and social classes. The problem is that everything we have ever been told about abusive relationships and abusers themselves is completely wrong. The fact is that when I first met my ex he was everything you wouldn’t expect an abuser to be- he was so kind, so caring, so soft really. He was everything that you expect a ‘Really Nice Bloke’ to be. That wasn’t how he turned out to be. I can’t put my finger on when things started to go wrong, looking back red flags started appearing but I conditioned myself (or more precisely- was conditioned by him) to brush them aside. All I know is that I went from an outgoing, outspoken woman to someone who was hiding in the bathroom silently reprimanding themselves that they had asked for a sky subscription to be cancelled while he tried to kick the door down. Even when I left (or had the police remove him from the house) I still wouldn’t have said that the relationship was massively abusive. It’s only when I look back on things that I am amazed about the things that happened. In some ways the coercive control was worse than any of the violence that I suffered. Not only did the constant questioning of myself and the walking on eggshells make my life a misery, it kept me trapped. Coercive control is like a blind fold- it stops you from seeing how dangerous things are and how bad things could really get. I was lucky- I managed to get out, it sickens me to think how easily I could still be there.
Mary
Death Death comes to us all in the end. It can also take many guises. The death of a relative The death of a relationship The death of a friendship It may be through illness ,choice or suddenly with no warning. In the end a death is the finality. They stand and weep into the white handkerchiefs once used to call a truce. They stand over the grave and weep for you . Or watch you slip through velvet curtains. They tears fall ,Their apologies should have come sooner. They are weeping for their mistake. Kindness directed at the feet... Read more
Death

Death comes to us all in the end.
It can also take many guises.
The death of a relative
The death of a relationship
The death of a friendship
It may be through illness ,choice or suddenly with no warning.

In the end a death is the finality.
They stand and weep into the white handkerchiefs once used to call a truce.
They stand over the grave and weep for you .
Or watch you slip through velvet curtains.
They tears fall ,Their apologies should have come sooner.
They are weeping for their mistake.
Kindness directed at the feet of predators.Skulking in the darkness in the dead of night .There is no place to run and no place to hide .
You’ve experienced the madness and the black eyes that appear when the angry monster comes from the rear.
Escape it ,be free ! Do it for your daughter and not for me .


A missed opportunity but now it’s too late.
Too late to call you.
Too late to drop in for five minutes.
Too late to send messages or hug you.
Too late .It’s all just too late.
Value truth,friendship,those who truly loved and cared because one day it will be too late.

Find the person that is you before it’s too late.

“She’s been ok “are the words that ring out but the beast lurks within and you have no doubt .
One wrong move and it’s there in front
Calling out those names again .
You bitch ,cunt !
Walk away now whilst you are able .
Speak the truth lay your cards on the table .

Those black eyes may on you appear as a reminder for you to simply adhere.
Run and don’t walk .As far as you can go .
Don’t look back .Go forward with all that you are able and leave the cards where they belong just lying on the table .
I got sucked in. She saw me coming a mile off. Charmed me, bought me gifts, spoke of a future together. Little did I know about the mental health problems, drinking etc before it was too late and I was in it! Feeling responsible like everything was my responsibility, like everything was my fault. I felt sorry for her, so I overlooked the lies and put it down to ‘what she had been through’ not thinking about what I was going through! Constantly apologising, cancelling my plans, putting my life on hold. But when she was on top form I... Read more
I got sucked in. She saw me coming a mile off. Charmed me, bought me gifts, spoke of a future together. Little did I know about the mental health problems, drinking etc before it was too late and I was in it! Feeling responsible like everything was my responsibility, like everything was my fault. I felt sorry for her, so I overlooked the lies and put it down to ‘what she had been through’ not thinking about what I was going through! Constantly apologising, cancelling my plans, putting my life on hold. But when she was on top form I was disregarded! I didn't matter. If I spoke up I was punished ‘ignored for days, phone calls ignored, no intimacy, nothing!’ But in the next breath I was the only one who understood her! I have never felt so worthless, so unloved! Yet I was called needy. I give all that I could give, I took all that I could take. Yet I was the bad guy. I longed for the moments when she was nice. I loved that person. But it never lasted. I had a constant pain in my gut. Constant fight, or flight. Not knowing what to do for the best. I went back time and time again! I felt like a fool. I feel like a fool. Im still trying to heal
Anon
I was in 2 abusive relationships, the 2nd being coercive on so many levels. I was convinced that I deserved to be treated that way, I defended them, made excuses for them...... Even now, over 15 years since the last one finished there are times that they might as well be alongside me. Sometimes things just run too deep. There are days which is an uphill battle to outrun them but I am determined to not let them win.....
I was in 2 abusive relationships, the 2nd being coercive on so many levels. I was convinced that I deserved to be treated that way, I defended them, made excuses for them......
Even now, over 15 years since the last one finished there are times that they might as well be alongside me. Sometimes things just run too deep.
There are days which is an uphill battle to outrun them but I am determined to not let them win.....
Anon
I have for the past six months tried to help my ex partner who has been in an abusive ,coercive relationship .She has been held prisoner ,battered,verbally abused and stalked all in the past six months .I have witnessed this and tried to help but around a month ago she invited this woman back into her home again . I don’t know what else to do .She doesn’t see the danger she and her daughter are in .It saddens me that she doesn’t feel strong enough to walk away despite all the help she has right beside her .I am... Read more
I have for the past six months tried to help my ex partner who has been in an abusive ,coercive relationship .She has been held prisoner ,battered,verbally abused and stalked all in the past six months .I have witnessed this and tried to help but around a month ago she invited this woman back into her home again .
I don’t know what else to do .She doesn’t see the danger she and her daughter are in .It saddens me that she doesn’t feel strong enough to walk away despite all the help she has right beside her .I am at a loss as to what to do .
This woman has used every manipulative technique she can and displayed behavior that is truly horrific,obsessive and bordering on dangerous.

It’s sad to watch somebody in the clutches of this type of behavior and nothing anyone’s says will work .
Anon
I watched a much loved family member suffer for years as the result of an abusive and controlling relationship. She never recovered. She found the strength to leave him. He continued to use children, police and the community against her. She was left with nothing in the end. She died too young. He made sure she didn’t have guardianship of her son. He continued to be ‘there’ in our small community. In the pub, at the school, in our lives. The trauma she lived with was too great. Services all treated her as if she had a mental illness. She... Read more
I watched a much loved family member suffer for years as the result of an abusive and controlling relationship. She never recovered. She found the strength to leave him. He continued to use children, police and the community against her. She was left with nothing in the end. She died too young. He made sure she didn’t have guardianship of her son. He continued to be ‘there’ in our small community. In the pub, at the school, in our lives. The trauma she lived with was too great. Services all treated her as if she had a mental illness. She was committed. She was set up in sheltered accommodation. She was treated as ‘drunk’ and ‘mad’. She was my friend. The child that survives her carries the trauma of losing a mother, of having no justice and continues to be prey for that man. He has gone on to have 3 more relationships and 3 more children. The community know what he is. How do family members who have watched someone be destroyed like that carry on?

“Working with Open Clasp has been, life changing, empowering and has given me a voice when mine had been taken. I now have hope for the future and a voice and know I am protected for that voice by an amazing company changing the world one play at a time.”

Support

For information on keeping yourself safe online, please visit the Women’s Aid information page.

National Domestic Violence Helpline
24 hour support service for women.
0800 200247

Karma Nirvana
A UK charity that supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and Honour Based Abuse.
0800 5999247

Freephone Rape Crisis England & Wales
Provides support and services for women & girls who’ve experienced sexual violence.
0800 8029999

Galop
LGBT+ anti-violence charity.
o800 9995428

Childline
Free, confidential support service for under 19 year olds.
0800 1111