Coercive control and domestic abuse: breaking the cycle

I am by no means an avid TV watcher, let alone a soaps fan, but the conversation around Coronation Street and its Geoff and Yasmeen domestic abuse and coercive control storyline can’t be avoided. The soap is putting domestic abuse and coercive control into the limelight and is making viewers increasingly aware of the issues faced by many, which can only help to raise awareness in a positive way.

To those who find watching this distressing, it’s important to understand that this portrayal is a well researched, accurate reflection of lived experience for many women and men who are subject to domestic abuse. The difference is that in reality, their experiences of this type of behaviour and abuse don’t end when the famous theme tune plays and the credits roll.

This storyline in particular, which has been slowly building over recent months, has intensified recently and the mainstream national press is now giving it the attention it deserves. I have seen very public criticism of the storyline, with some calling it “gratuitous” to use domestic abuse for entertainment, but I would have to disagree.

If the story helps people to recognise some of the behaviours, if it helps someone reach out to a friend or relative as they have similar experiences, if it strikes a chord for a friend or neighbour who may suspect someone they know is a victim of coercive control and domestic abuse, that can only be a positive thing. Awareness is a powerful tool. It can lead to action, and that action may be the first step for someone who needs to break an abusive cycle.

What help is available?

If you are in a similar positon to Yasmeen or feel that you are being subject to coercive control or domestic abuse, help is available. The hardest step to take is often the first one, admitting you need support or help to live free from harmful behaviour.

Locally in the Liverpool City Region there are many domestic abuse charities which can support survivors of domestic abuse. I would also encourage people to find a safe way to make contact with a specialist domestic abuse solicitor who can advise on legal options to protect you. Those options can include obtaining an injunction (non molestation order) to prevent the perpetrator of abuse from contacting you, obtaining occupation orders so that you can enjoy peaceful occupation of your home to the exclusion of the perpetrator, and signposting you to specialist services which can support you through your journey.

It is also important to understand that coercive control is now a criminal offence. Coronation Street and the actors portraying Yasmeen and Geoff aren’t afraid to tackle this issue head on, and experience dictates that this storyline will become darker and Geoff’s behaviour more abusive and controlling as it develops, but that need not be the case for anyone watching it or reading this blog.

Quite often, people aren’t aware that the experiences they are having are a legal issue, but coercive control and domestic abuse are specialist areas of the law, for which specialist advice should be sought.

At MSB, we have three Resolution accredited domestic abuse specialist family lawyers who can discuss your options with you. Protection from domestic abuse is always within scope of legal aid, so we will assess your financial eligibility to access legal aid, ensuring you can get the help you need, whatever your circumstances.

If you need support or advice, get in touch.