Coercive control in the workplace
Have you ever felt undermined, upset or fearful of a team member in your workplace? Bullying and harassment isn't always easy to identify or define. If you're worried and need some direction about behaviour you have observed in your workplace, read this helpful article below, written by Wellbalance team member Amanda.
Coercive control is a pattern of manipulative behaviours that create an unequal power dynamic within a relationship. The use of coercive control allows for one person in a relationship to dominate and control the autonomy of the other. Coercive control looks different in each relationship but is often subtle, non-physical and difficult to describe or identify by those who are most affected by it.
Coercive control is often discussed in the context of Family and Domestic violence as research has begun to highlight the role coercive control often plays in intimate partner violence.
Common coercive tactics perpetrated in the context of Family Violence include:
While we mostly think of coercive control occurring within personal relationships and within the home environment, coercive control can also occur within professional relationships and in the workplace.
Workplace coercive control occurs when an employee is the intentional target of coercive tactics. Coercive tactics are utilised purposefully to exploit or dominate the employee, create dependency or damage the employee’s reputation and standing within their workplace, work sector and/ or community.
These are some examples of coercive control tactics within a workplace:
Workplace coercive control negatively impacts an employee’s emotional and psychological wellbeing, autonomy and capacity to excel or succeed in their role.
What should you do if you are experiencing coercive control in the workplace?
Document your experience, by noting the date and time, who was involved, what occurred and the impact the incident had on your wellbeing and work practice.
Compile evidence. If possible, it is important to include evidence in your documentation. Evidence can include photos and copies of emails and messages. Coercive control can be subtle, but it is also a pattern. Evidence can help to make that pattern visible.
Report incidents of coercion to an appropriate resource like Human Resources, your manager or management team.
Look after your emotional and mental wellbeing by engaging in therapeutic supports and sharing your experience with people you trust.
Written by Wellbalance team member Amanda Conway, 2022
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