It is not enough to combat the physical violence that is a concrete indication of control in some cases. It is the control itself that so deeply marks, deprives, and dehumanizes.
I will post from this paper [HTML] by Evan Stark for a few days.
Coercive control is a model of abuse that attempts to encompass the range of strategies employed to dominate individual women in personal life. Alternately referred to as coerced persuasion; conjugal, patriarchal or intimate terrorism; emotional or psychological abuse; indirect abuse; or emotional torture, it describes an ongoing pattern of sexual mastery by which abusive partners, almost exclusively males, interweave repeated physical abuse with three equally important tactics: intimidation, isolation, and control.
The easiest way to understand coercive control is to contrast it to the widespread equation of partner abuse with “domestic violence.” Domestic violence laws and most research in the field take an incident-specific focus and weigh the severity of abuse by the level of force used or injury inflicted what I call a “calculus of harms.” In marked contrast, the coercive control model relies on evidence that most battered women who seek help experience coercion as “ongoing” rather than as merely “repeated” and that the main marker of these assaults is their frequency or even their “routine” nature rather than their severity, a fact that gives abuse a “cumulative” effect found in no other assault crime. Physical harm and psychological trauma remain important in the coercive control model. But its theory of harms replaces the violation of physical integrity with an emphasis on violations of “liberty” that entail the deprivation of rights and resources essential to personhood and citizenship. In this view, the psychological language of victimization and dependence is replaced by the political language of domination, resistance, and subordination. . In the coercive control model, what men do to women is less important than what they prevent women from doing for themselves. In the forensic context where I work, women’s right to use whatever means are available to liberate themselves from coercive control derives from the right afforded to all persons to free themselves from tyranny not from the proximate physical or psychological means used to do this
The domestic violence model emphasizes the familial, cultural, interpersonal and psychological roots of abusive behavior. The coercive control model views the dynamics in abusive relationships from the vantage of the historical struggle for women’s liberation and men’s efforts to preserve their traditional privileges in personal life in the face of this struggle. The incredible strides women have made towards full equality, particularly since the l960’s, have been widely documented. These gains make it increasingly difficult for men to ensure women’s obedience and dependence through violence alone. In the face of this reality, millions of men have expanded their oppressive repertoire to include a range of constraints on women’s autonomy formerly imposed by law, religion, and women’s exclusion from the economic, cultural and political mainstream, in essence trying to construct a “patriarchy in miniature” in each individual relationship, the course of malevolent conduct known as coercive control. Although the aim of this conspicuous form of subjugation is to quash, offset or coopt women’s social gains (taking the money they earn, for instance), this strategy relies for success on the persistent inequalities based on sex that remain, including the huge gap in job opportunities and earnings that continues to advantage men.
Coercive Control by Evan Stark