Coercive control victimisation: A rapid review of frequency, risk factors and impact


Coercive control is the ongoing and repetitive use of behaviours or strategies (including physical and non-physical violence) to control a current or ex-intimate partner and make them feel inferior to, and dependent on, the perpetrator. This presentation outlines the findings and implications from an evidence synthesis of the frequency, risk factors and impacts of coercive control victimisation. Findings are based on a rapid literature review of 13 international studies published 2012-2022. At the time of writing, the peer-reviewed quantitative research evidence on coercive control victimisation and how it applies to the Australian context had not previously been synthesised. Differences in definitions of coercive control and research design mean there is a wide range of frequency figures reported across studies (4-100% across clinical samples and 8-25% in general population samples). The evidence about risk factors for coercive control victimisation is inconclusive. A broad number of risk factors have been identified but they vary between studies. Where risk factors have been assessed across more than one study, the findings about their significance are inconsistent. Mental health outcomes are the most frequently researched impact factors among women; studies generally found that coercive control victimisation decreased women’s mental health and wellbeing. Other studied impacts included decreases in decision making abilities, family health and wellbeing, as well as increases in physical injury, emotional injury and taking time off paid work. The presentation will conclude with a summary of potential implications from the review findings for practice with women and families, research and policy.


MacDonald, J. B., Willoughby, M., Gartoulla, P., Cotton, E., March, E., Strawa, C. (2024). Coercive control victimisation: A rapid review of frequency, risk factors and impact. Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, 11–14 June. Melbourne, Australia. (Paper)