Young People’s Understanding Of Coercive Control In Northern Ireland

Susan Lagdon, Lucia Klencakova, Dirk Schubotz, Ciaran Shannon, Mark Tully, Cherie Armour, Julie-Ann Jordan

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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Purpose: Coercive control and related research have progressed significantly in the past number of years, with an ever-growing evidence base adding to its construct. However, currently there is a lack of evidence on young people’s knowledge and understanding of coercive control.
Methods: We included a module of questions in the 2020 Northern Ireland Young Life and Life and Times survey (n = 2,069) with the aim of capturing baseline measurable data on understanding of coercive control within intimate relationships among 16-year olds.
Results: Only 16% (n =325) of respondents had heard of the term coercive control and knew what it meant. Findings also revealed that females, compared to males, were less likely to have heard of coercive control. When the victim being subjected to the behaviours was portrayed as female as opposed to male there was stronger recognition of the associated risks, need for support, and the seriousness of the situation.
Conclusion: Our study findings call to question young people’s knowledge of unhealthy intimate relationship behaviours beyond blatant and deliberate acts of harm such as those described in the coercive control scenarios. Gender disparities in awareness of coercive control across the study sample also give cause for concern given the increased risk of intimate partner violence among women and girls as well as lower reporting and help seeking among male victims. Results solidify the necessity for dedicated preventative and intervention efforts which focus on intimate relationships and reflect the diverse needs and experiences of young people. Supporting young people to act on their own behalf is an important step change to empowerment within their own intimate relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-545
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 12 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The current project was funded by HSC R&D Division Public Health Agency.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Coercive Control
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Young People


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