Intimate partner violence, separation and ongoing abuse: mothers experiences of coercive control pre and post separation

A/Prof Silke Meyer1

1Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Coercive control has long been identified as a gendered form of domestic and family violence. Most experiences of coercive control have been examined in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV). With the majority of IPV victims identifying as mothers in national and international prevalence studies, it is unsurprising that most women reporting experiences of coercive control also identify as mothers. We examine experiences of coercive control in a diverse national survey sample. The survey was completed by 1392 participants. Of these, 947 identified as female with experiences of coercive control by a current or former partner. One in five of female victim survivors of coercive control further identified as mothers. This presentation unpacks the experiences of survey participants identifying as female and examines qualitative similarities and differences in the experiences of coercive control among mothers and women without children. While mothers and women without children share similar experiences across a range of controlling tactics used by an intimate (ex)partner, mothers’ experiences of coercive control or often prolonged. Mutual children often create obligations for ongoing contact with the abusive parent along with a platform for ongoing post separation abuse. Findings raise critical implications for family law and family welfare responses to mothers and children affected by coercive control.


Silke Meyer is the Deputy Director of the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre and an Associate Professor in Criminology. Her research centres on different aspects of domestic and family violence, including women and children’s safety and wellbeing, men’s accountability in their role as perpetrators and fathers, experiences specific to Indigenous communities and the nature and role of service responses.


Dec 08 2021