“Listen to me, his behaviour is erratic and I’m really worried for our safety…”Help-seeking in the context of coercive control

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages35
JournalCriminology and Criminal Justice
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2020
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This article explores 12 female victim-survivors’ experiences of seeking protection from criminal justice agencies in Dyfed-Powys, an area in Wales. The discussion draws on rich qualitative data, from a series of narrative interviews held in 2015, which offers new insights into how coercive and controlling behaviours influence ‘help-seeking’. The findings suggest that for 12 women, deemed to be high risk (SafeLives, 2014), the experience of actively engaging with criminal justice agencies, served to instil in them a sense that they were alone at the most dangerous period in their help-seeking journey, namely the juncture of leaving, without formal protection (Abrahams, 1994). Under-enforcement by justice agents resulted in what Stubbs (2016) terms ‘non-feasance’: a process whereby women are unable to access protection from the law, thus potentially increasing the propensity for lethal violence.


  • Domestic abuse, coercive control, intimate partner abuse, police, criminal justice