Would you notice the red flags to being murdered by your family member? With the devastating statistics of women being killed every week in Australia, politicians Anne Aly MP and Linda Burney MP discuss with AMUST the importance of educating communities on Coercive Control.

It seem obvious, but there is an extreme lack of education and awareness for people to be aware of what behaviours indicate red flags. What can be misconstrued as love or “normal”, can actually be extreme jealousy, abuse and control.

Coercive control is the silent abuse that can be hard to prove which can cause domestic abuse to escalate and make victims’ chances of escape more difficult. 

“Coercive control is not just one behaviour, it’s a compound. It’s multiple things, checking your phone and isolation,” Dr Anne Aly, said.

It is usually a pattern of behaviours, which over time the person experiencing coercive control usually feels like they are held hostage or they have no control over their life from a social, financial, sexual, emotional and many other perspectives. 

“Normalisation of certain behaviours, targeted messaging and core message needs to be what’s normal and acceptable and what’s not. That’s where we can often get entangled,” said Dr Anne Aly. 

“There needs to be lines in the sand with behaviour and patterns of behaviour. We can’t get into the quagmire into ‘that’s a normal part of your culture, so that’s okay’,” she said. 

The most devastating for the Muslim community is where social interaction is so important, the isolation from family and friends.

Ms Linda Burney MP said that coercive control doesn’t discriminate and has the ability to lead to physical abuse. 

“Coercive control, prevalent across all communities, it can be a pre-cursor to physical violence, it is disempowering and there’s support out there and its unacceptable,” Ms Linda Burney said.

Perpetrators may hold basic human rights away from the person being abused. This can slowly degrade them psychologically and may result in them being harmed physically. 

In Australia, coercive control is not yet criminalised however there are calls from multi-partisan federal alliance that is led by Labor MP Dr Anne Aly, Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Liberal MP Dr Fiona Martin to outlaw this form of domestic violence.

The group is calling for the understanding and criminalisation of coercive control in Australia.  

Women’s Safety NSW surveyed 72 domestic and family violence survivors to which 97% said they had experienced ‘psychological control and manipulation’ in their relationship. 

Therefore it is incumbent upon us all as a community to teach men and women about coercive control, creating awareness and education should they find themselves in that situation.

Labor MP Dr Anne Aly has experienced domestic violence first hand being a domestic violence survivor herself, she is a domestic violence advocate and recognises the cultural hurdles along with the cultural pressures faced by women of ethnically diverse backgrounds that experience domestic violence. 

Traditionally, people associate domestic violence with exclusively with physical violence, however it goes beyond that. In arabic cultures, domestic violence still remains a taboo topic which often gets kicked to the curb. 

‘Gheera’, an Arabic term which means protective jealousy and can be a beautiful portrayal of care for your partner. Unfortunately, this concept can also be spiritually abused by perpetrators to justify their ability and power to control, manipulate and intimidate others.

Often Muslim women fall victim to this disturbing behaviour by their husbands who misuse the concept of gheera to abuse her mentally and physically by isolating her from the world and even use technology against her. 

Dr Anne Aly said that she has witnessed this in other communities who were afraid to talk about issues of coercive control within particular cultures or religions, as they were afraid it would bring a bad spotlight upon them.

No doubt Muslims and migrant communities have had to face a lot of discrimination and stereotypes of oppression. However, this should not be a deterrent to recognise the issues within the community, as saving women’s lives and their safety of their children is more important that getting a poor reputation. 

E-Abuse

Other forms of coercive control is by electronic abuse (E-Abuse), that is part of coercive control behaviours that we need to tackle. More difficult to tackle aside from education and awareness, unless you are really quite literate, you don’t know.

There’s lines to be drawn when mobile apps can be used to track where women are going to follow and harm them.

“Applications are being used by perpertrators, app on phone or ipad without knowing it, so movements can be traced. It’s a terrible problem,” said Ms Linda Burney.

She said that more awareness on coercive behaviors is vital. 

“Its about public education and awareness on cyber security,” Ms Burney concluded.

Australia has a lot to do to catch up on using strategic understanding of culturally-sensitive psychology of coercive control in order to save lives. And having an awareness and understanding of how technology interplays with control is a matter of life and death.