There are many methods of manipulation. Coercive control can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, spiritual, cultural, verbal or financial. Here is a breakdown of the most common types of abuse.
Physical abuse is usually the final stage, not the starting point, of coercive control. It happens when someone strikes or physically restrains another person, but also includes painful pinching, squeezing forcefully, and pushing or shoving.
Sexual abuse occurs when a person is forced to take part in any sexual activity. Genital mutilation and enforced abortion are extreme forms of sexual abuse. Legally, any unwanted sexually motivated touch is an assault, but an assault may take the form of verbal sexual harassment (such as catcalls) and/or enforced social roles, as well as any doctrinal assertion that either gender is inherently superior.
Emotional abuse happens when someone says or does something to make another person feel stupid or worthless. Anyone can make a rude or hostile comment, but emotional abusers consistently, deliberately and systematically belittle other people.
Psychological abuse occurs when someone uses threats and intimidation, causing fear in order to gain control of someone. Psychological abuse is common in abusive relationships and toxic groups. “Gaslighting” is a common form of psychological abuse where the victim is tricked into believing that they have mental difficulties.
Spiritual or religious abuse occurs when someone uses an individual’s spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate or control them. In religious cults, this means the manipulation of doctrine to cause fear and dependency, where the leadership’s least whim is treated as if it were a divine decree.
Cultural abuse happens when an individual’s culture or religion imposes harmful practices, such as the painful and debilitating foot-binding suffered for centuries by the women of China. Even today, many people go without proper medical treatment due to the anti-scientific views of their cultural or religious groups.
Verbal abuse occurs when someone uses written or spoken language to threaten, intimidate or otherwise undermine another person. Verbal abuse can have lasting emotional and even physiological effects.
Financial abuse occurs when someone controls an individual’s financial resources without the person’s consent, or misuses those resources. Predatory individuals and destructive groups use undue influence to take control of their victims’ financial resources.
Neglect occurs when someone fails in their responsibility to provide care or assistance to another. Predatory people strip away the assets of a victim, and then abandon them. They have no concern for either young or old. A culture of neglect has been found in some care homes for the elderly, in children’s homes, prisons and mental hospitals.
Bullying is the foundation of all coercive control. While the problem is now recognized in schools, much more needs to be done to eliminate bullying from business and home environments. Bullying usually consists of verbal abuse, but can easily escalate to abuse, and leads to a feeling of helplessness for those who are bullied.