Featuring Kirk Chisholm LMSW, CASAC, RevCore’s Clinical Director
Q: I’ve recently entered a new relationship, and things are moving quickly. While I feel cared for, some behaviors are making me uneasy. My partner often checks in on me, wants to know where I am, and discourages me from spending time with my friends. Am I overthinking it, or should I be concerned?
A: Your question strikes at the heart of something many people overlook: coercive control. This form of domestic abuse can be incredibly subtle, often masquerading as concern or love. The truth is, love should make you feel free, not confined. Let’s look at some red flags that indicate coercive control so you can better assess your situation:
1. Excessive checking-in
If your partner constantly wants to know where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with, that’s a red flag. While it’s natural to check in with a loved one, there’s a line where it crosses into invasive monitoring.
2. Social media surveillance
Does your partner insist on having your social media passwords, or do they monitor who you interact with online? This level of surveillance is not healthy.
3. Criticizing your friends and family
A coercive controller will often try to isolate you from your support network by criticizing the people close to you. They may even tell you that your friends and family aren’t good for you.
4. Discouraging social outings
If your partner tries to keep you away from social events or makes you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with others, that’s another red flag.
This involves making you doubt your own perceptions or memories. If your partner denies things that you know happened or makes you question your own judgment, that’s gaslighting.
6. Constant criticism
If your partner undermines your self-esteem by continually pointing out your faults, they’re exerting a form of emotional control over you.
7. Financial control
Whether it’s controlling your joint finances without your consent or discouraging you from work or educational opportunities, financial manipulation is another form of coercive control.
8. Emotional blackmail
Phrases like “If you loved me, you would…” are manipulative tactics designed to guilt you into doing things you might not be comfortable with.
Trust your gut. If you’re picking up on behaviors that make you feel restricted or diminished, it’s worth taking a closer look. Coercive control often starts small and escalates. Please consider speaking with a professional to help you navigate this tricky situation.
*Disclaimer: This blog post is intended as a general guide and should not replace professional advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing coercive control or any form of abuse, seek help from qualified professionals.
RevCore’s team of providers is here to support those who are suffering from domestic violence. Contact us at (212) 966-9537 or reach out at www.revcorerecovery.com.