Domestic abuse doesn’t always mean physical abuse—it can also be psychological. Coercive control involves the use of abusive tactics like gaslighting, isolation, and humiliation to control or manipulate someone. Abusers may prevent their partner from seeing their friends, for instance, or controlling different elements of their life, such as what they wear.
As you can imagine, coercive control can have severe impacts on a person’s emotional and mental health. Community service workers have the important opportunity to walk alongside these individuals, intervene in crisis situations, and create a strategy to help them with their situation.
However, coercive control can be hard to detect—especially if your client has been manipulated to believe they deserve it—so it’s important to understand what controlling relationships look like, and how you can support your clients.
After CSW Training, You Can Help Clients Identify a Controlling Relationship
The first step in helping clients deal with controlling relationships is helping them recognize that their partner’s behaviour is, in fact, abusive. Your clients’ partners may have tried to convince them that their constant criticism is justified, and may have gaslighted your client into thinking they’re crazy for thinking otherwise.
While constructive criticism is a part of any relationship, if your client’s partner constantly critiques their interests, financial choices, decisions at work, and even wardrobe selections, there is likely something more at play.
In a controlling relationship, these critiques are not mere suggestions—they are psychological tactics that abusers use to control their partner’s decisions and actions. As a community service worker, you can help your client discern these abusive comments.
Encourage Clients to Create Community and Avoid Isolation
In a controlling relationship, abusers often try to isolate their partners because the less contact their partner has with others, the more likely they are to believe the abuser’s lies. Abusers may prevent their partners from seeing friends and family by acting jealous, spreading rumors, or even forbidding them from seeing other people.
In community service worker college, you will learn that there are different ways you can help your clients escape isolation without causing tension with their partner. Oftentimes, those experiencing coercive control will be wary of leaving home, but simple activities like going on a walk, attending religious services, and even shopping can help your client experience freedom. You can also encourage your clients to connect with friends and family through phone calls, texts, and emails—but keep in mind that these messages may be monitored by their partner.
Counteract Gaslighting After Community Service Worker School
By definition, gaslighting is the act of manipulating a person by making them question their thoughts, memories, and even sanity. A gaslighting partner may try to convince your client of events that never actually happened or blame them for things they did not do, for instance.
Community service workers play an imperative role in these situations. After CSW training, you can become the voice of reason in the lives of people whose understanding of reality has been distorted by affirming their perspective and helping them recognize their partner’s attempts at gaslighting them.
Is community service worker school for you?
Find out by contacting Medix College today!