The Spartan Initiative

Let’s Talk About Coercive Control: Comments About How To Dress

smiling woman in jean jacket and dress

What many people won’t realise is that when an intimate partner starts to comment on how one should dress, it is a form of coercive control. While it is a large part of female domestic violence cases, it does happen to men, too.

As per Mamamia, an abusive partner will criticise the clothing choices of the victim. For example, Hannah Clarke was a victim of this tactic by her husband, Rowan Baxter. She was not allowed to wear shorts, the colour pink, and she had to cover up if she was wearing a bikini, but not on the beach.

Spice Girls alumni Mel B told Cosmopolitan in 2021 that she was the victim of domestic abuse from her ex-husband, Stephen Belafonte. She says that one of the things that he criticised was the way she dressed. As per Mel, it started as small. But the coercive control she experienced – she didn’t call it this – only got worse as time went on.

Stop And Question If Your Partner Is Using Coercive Control If They’re Telling You How To Dress

Having a partner dictate what you can and cannot wear can grind the victim down over time. It becomes a control tactic that the perpetrator can use. It also has to be clothing. Furthermore, it can include other aspects of appearance, such as how one styles their hair or whether a person can wear make-up or have piercings.

If you’re in a relationship and your partner is telling you how to dress, stop and ask yourself: are they using coercive control? If the answer is yes, seek help in the safest way possible. Moreover, if you get the route of the problem early, something can be done about it. However, do not go into the fight on your own. Some domestic violence situations can turn violent very quickly.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!