Coercive Methods For Enforcing Compliance


Abusers use a variety of techniques in order to coerce others into behaving the way they want.
In 1956 the psychologist Albert Biderman developed a framework for understanding the methods foreign armies used to extract false confessions from prisoners of war. Psychologists now believe that abusers in many different situations use the same methods to achieve control over their victims. For example, victims of domestic violence or childhood abuse often report having experienced similar treatment. These methods include:

  1. Isolation
  2. Monopolization of perception
  3. Induced exhaustion / debilitation
  4. Threats
  5. Occasional indulgences
  6. Demonstrating 'omnipotence' and 'omniscience'
  7. Degredation
  8. Enforcing trivial demands

This information sheet gives details of methods of coercive control used by abusers. A checklist allows clients to see what methods of control they were subject to. These can be used as helpful starting points for therapeutic conversations.

Coercive Methods For Enforcing Compliance

Key references:

  • Biderman, A. D. (1957). Communist attempts to elicit false confessions from Air Force prisoners of war. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 33(9), 616-625