7. Advice for male victims of
coercive control

Mothers of Sons is urging all male victims of coercive control to consider reporting this behaviour to police. The feminist campaign is seeking to deny that women can control their partners in this way. We need men to come forward to show how many men are also victims. 

We know that it is a big ask for a man to have the courage to front a police station to make a complaint. If you would like to make this move and need support, please contact us. 

What you should know

falsely accused of a crime

It isn’t easy for a male victim of coercive control to prove what’s been happening. Coercive control involves mainly nonphysical abuse tactic and doesn’t leave behind bruises, black eyes, broken bones or other injuries that could be photographed and used as evidence later. There are seldom police reports or medical documents associated with coercive control.

Coercive behaviour is a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that can also include:

  • Repeatedly putting you down by telling you that you are worthless.

  • Threats to cut you off from your children.

  • Controlling or monitoring your money or earnings.

  • Running up debts for which you are responsible.

  • Threats to drag you through the courts.

  • Intentionally undermining your role as a partner, spouse or parent.

But see here for more detailed information revealed by research from the University of Central Lancashire which shows the unique ways men suffer as victims. 

Preparing to make a complaint

If you suspect you are a victim of Coercive Control learn about the legislation in your State or Territory to understand the seriousness of this crime. As we have explained, currently only Tasmania has laws criminalizing coercive control in place, but in NSW and Qld the legislation has been put on hold until police and the judiciary are trained to target men. We’ll update this page as this situation changes.

If you are in a coercive relationship, it is worth gathering evidence so you are well equipped for when the time comes for you to take action.  

Here’s some advice about preparing yourself to make an official complaint as a victim of coercive control (note that laws surrounding what is admissible as evidence vary by state):

  • Get a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist to compile a report you can use to document the toll on your mental health of your partner’s emotional abuse. 

  • Keep a log or journal of all abusive incidents—the date, time, location, description of what happened, what was said or threatened, if there were any witnesses, if you sustained any injuries, if the abuser damaged any property, if police were called, etc. 

  • Make sure to keep this log in a safe place where the abuser can’t find it, such as your place of employment, a friend’s house or even by renting your own safety deposit box.

  • Divulge to a trusted support person. If you have a trusted family member, friend or co-worker, tell them when incidents happen. A report made to them may be admissible as evidence later on.

  • Smartphone apps are also available to help you safely record incidents of domestic violence including phone calls, background audio and images.

  • Take pictures of your home in disarray after an incident of domestic violence, including any objects broken.  

  • Take screenshots of threatening text or social media messages, or repeated or relentless messages that demonstrate stalking.

Consider contacting a lawyer and start to research the appropriate government or non-government agencies who might be able to support you through your ordeal. We know you are unlikely to find much support in the community but we need to document how these agencies are treating male victims so please contact us with your reports. 

Before you report to police
  • If possible, seek legal professional advice first.

  • Read the legislation to make sure you have the evidence to support your claim. 

  • Bring all original evidence along with copies.

When you make a report
  • Go to a police station in person and consider police station “shopping” if you do not get an adequate response or the support you need.
  • Consider discreetly using your phone to record the police interaction.  Recording is legal in most states of Australia as long as you are a party to the conversation. 
    Some states require the recording to be to protect your lawful interests too or other criteria – these would generally be fulfilled in this situation.  However, do not record or attempt to record a conversation that you are not a party to – such as if you leave the room, then your phone should not be recording.  Heavy penalties and imprisonment can apply if you do. 
    Try to insist your interaction is conducted in an interview room with CCTV and sound recording. That recording can be applied for and used in evidence.
  • Bring a witness to take detailed notes, including the names, rank of the police who dealt with you and how they acted and responded.
  • Consider attending with a lawyer.

Read more advice in Part 8 – Advice for falsely accused men.