To put an end to the idea of ​​the “couple chicane”

“Family drama. Couple’s fight. Marital conflict that escalated. Groups that help women want us to stop using these expressions that deflect the violence they experience, minimize it — and sometimes cover it up. To better reflect all the facets of assaults, the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victims de violence conjugale highlights the notion of « coercive control », creating tools on this theme intended for those involved in the judicial community to help them better identify this last to intervene.

« The ‘domestic violence’, I did not recognize myself in that, » said a survivor, Brigitte Méthot. Her ex-husband didn’t « beat » her, she says, « and I thought domestic violence was just physical. »

“Coercive control,” on the other hand, describes what she went through, she explains.

At the time, “if I had heard those words, I might have lit up,” said the woman who suffered psychological, sexual and financial violence in particular.

It was a ticking time bomb and I didn’t know when it was going to explode.

Mme Méthot came to testify on Tuesday at an information session organized for the media by the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victims de violence conjugale.

“Coercive control is better off being named. It can ‘ring bells’ for many women” and encourage them to seek help.

Words are important, and here, the goal is to reach as many victims as possible, in addition to changing the perception of domestic violence among the actors of the justice system that they will encounter in their efforts, explained Annick Brazeau, Executive Director of Pour Elles des Deux Vallées shelter, located in Outaouais. She says she has seen many women come into shelters and say, « I’m not sure it’s domestic violence, he didn’t hit me. » »

The term « coercive control » is an « umbrella term », covering the different forms of domestic violence (psychological, economic, sexual, etc.), which are experienced « in a continuum » of acts and words, argued Ms.e Karine Barrette, project manager for the Regroupement, in particular that aimed at improving judicial practice to increase the safety of women.

It is not just « an event » that defines violence, adds the lawyer. « It sets in gradually and insidiously, » says Methot.

The expression thus reflects the progressive taking of control to dominate the woman, the efforts to isolate her from the resources of help and those around her, to deprive her of her autonomy and her self-esteem, adds Ms.e Barrette.

“People have to stop seeing it as a couple’s fight. »


The Regroupement, which has 47 shelters, has created a series of tools, including small booklets, to help the various players in the justice system recognize coercive control. “Because some of its manifestations are less visible,” it reads.

One is for the police — including examples of “attacker tactics”. Another is for criminal and family law attorneys, and another is for the immigration industry. All have the theme: “Understanding, identifying and intervening in the face of coercive control”. A booklet focuses on the concept of the “homicidal risk preacher” – and therefore feminicides, said Ms.e Barrette.

The small guides have been put online and are therefore freely available to anyone who needs them.

They report the main manifestations of coercive control, such as threatening to run away with the children, preventing the woman from working or going out unaccompanied, restricting access to the computer and bank account, reading her messages, dictating her schedule and threatening to kill her.

He wasn’t beating me, repeats Mme Méthot, “but I was afraid he would kill me the same way”. “It was a ticking time bomb and I didn’t know when it was going to explode. »

Those who are behind this toolbox project want many other eyes in the system to consult them, such as social workers, psychologists, health workers and judges.

Need help ? If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call the SOS violence conjugale hotline at 1 800 363-9010. Men with violent behavior can contact the À coeur d’homme network, which supports the prevention of domestic and family violence, at 1 877 660-7799.

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