Overall there is very little research into coercive control without violence (Crossman et al. 2016), and even less specific research into how children experience coercive controlling behaviours only, when living with domestic violence perpetrated by one caregiver to another (usually their father/father-figure against their mother). To illustrate, Callaghan et al. (2015) state:
[T]here is limited research that engages either with children’s lived experience of violence, or more specifically with their experience of psychological abuse and coercive control in family relationships affected by domestic violence.
The majority of research on children and domestic violence tends to focus on children’s exposure to physical violence (Katz 2016), and in the majority of cases emotional abuse co-occurs with physical abuse. Additionally, very few studies of the impact of domestic violence on children control for the effect of co-occurring child abuse (Wolfe et al. 2003), so in many cases it is not possible to identify the effects of a specific form of domestic violence, for example to measure the impact of coercive control specifically. Where studies do not differentiate between emotional and physical abuse, we have not been able to include these studies as they do not isolate the effect of witnessing and experiencing non-physical violence/abuse.
Where research has been conducted into the impact of coercive and controlling behaviour, the methods for analysing and understanding instances and examples of experiences are often not classified using a theoretical framework (for example Johnson’s (2008) framework of intimate partner violence). This means that there is no standard approach to operationalising or measuring coercive control, which limits comparisons and generalisability across studies (Hardesty et al. 2015). This means it can be challenging for practitioners to use evidence to inform their assessments.
However, we have identified some key publications and sources of knowledge that seek to identify and explain the impact of coercive control on young people, where these effects are described specifically. This is in response to the specific information need relating to this Outline.