What is controlling behaviour?

Controlling behaviour is a wide reaching form of abuse and, as control is at the heart of all domestic abuse, it overlaps with many other categories, especially sexual abuse and financial abuse.

Controlling behaviour often creeps unnoticed into a relationship, as initially it can appear to be caring and romantic.  For instance, a controlling man or woman may choose something from a menu for their partner – which could be seen as a romantic gesture, however, if someone always insists on choosing, whether their partner likes the choice or not, this is no longer healthy and is a sign of controlling, domineering behaviour.

The question of what is controlling behaviour can be hard to answer. Much of it can be put down to personality traits. However it can over step the mark and become abusive. Some examples of what a controlling man or woman may do include:


  • Not allowing their partner to go out
  • Forbidding contact with friends and family
  • Controlling what they wear
  • Controlling what they eat
  • Constant texting and calling
  • Constantly checking on where the victim is, what they are doing and who they are with
  • Making all the plans without discussion


Threats are a common method of controlling a man or woman in an abusive relationship. Threats are typically to harm their victim or their family, including threats to kill or to take the children away. They may also threaten to harm themselves.

If you think you are experiencing controlling behaviour, please seek help – GET HELP NOW

If you are worried you are controlling a partner or family member, please seek help – ADVICE FOR PERPETRATORS.