Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship (Paperback) book cover

Invisible Chains

Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship

By Lisa Aronson Fontes

© 2015 – Guilford Press

220 pages

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When you are showered with attention, it can feel incredibly romantic and can blind you to hints of problems ahead. But what happens when attentiveness becomes domination? In some relationships, the desire to control leads to jealousy, threats, micromanaging--even physical violence. If you or someone you care about are trapped in a web of coercive control, this book provides answers, hope, and a way out. Lisa Aronson Fontes draws on both professional expertise and personal experience to help you:

*Recognize controlling behaviors of all kinds.

*Understand why this destructive pattern occurs.

*Determine whether you are in danger and if your partner can change.

*Protect yourself and your kids.

*Find the support and resources you need.

*Take action to improve or end your relationship.

*Regain your freedom and independence.


"I wish I'd had this book in my youth, when I was the victim of coercion that whittled away at my self-esteem. This book should be in every women's center, police station, and therapist's office. It cuts through the jargon, gets to the heart of the matter, and provides tools of liberation."--Magdalena Gómez, author of Shameless Woman
"The first comprehensive guide to overcoming coercive control. Dr. Fontes provides simple tools to assess your own or a loved one's relationship and offers practical steps to getting free, illustrated with real-life stories. The writing is sharp and evocative and the research is impeccable. A path-breaking work."--Evan Stark, PhD, MSW, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs
"Dr. Fontes makes the dynamics of coercive control understandable to everyone. In plain language and with clear examples, she describes the tactics of domineering individuals and their effects on victims. Dr. Fontes is particularly thoughtful about including diverse couples and families. After reading this book, no one will be able to ask, 'Why does she stay?'"--Juan Carlos Areán, Director, National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities
"This book reveals hidden dimensions behind relationships where one partner is controlled by the other. Dr. Fontes explains the dynamics of coercive control and deciphers the pattern so we can all understand it. Read this book and reclaim your life."--Rabbi Efraim Eisen, marriage, family, and child therapist, Amherst, Massachusetts
"This book is gripping and nuanced. It will be extremely helpful to anyone grappling with issues of coercive control. As a therapist with decades of experience, and a person who has been in coercive relationships, I learned a great deal. The stories of women and men from wide-ranging backgrounds pulled me in deeply. Complex, profound ideas are expressed in easy-to-read language. A 'must-have' resource!"--Janine Roberts, EdD, past president, American Family Therapy Academy
"Fontes's writing is clear and vividly illustrated with real-life stories from her decades of work helping abuse victims become survivors. Invisible Chains is a hopeful book that shows a way out of coercive control relationships and illustrates the promise of healing and recovery."--Jeffrey L. Edleson, PhD, Dean and Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley
"This powerful and informative resource delivers essential information in a nonjudgmental and sensitive manner. People who work in the legal and criminal justice systems need this book to help keep victims and their children safe. The book is easy to read, but in no way simplistic. I will be placing a copy of this book in our office library as a resource for our attorneys and advocates."--Ismael R. Ozanne, Dane County District Attorney, Madison, Wisconsin

Table of Contents

About This Book 
I. What Is Coercive Control?        
1. Introduction to Coercive Control 
2. Controlling Behaviors
II. Why Coercive Control Happens        
3. Why Some Men Control Their Partners in This Way
4. Why Some Women Get and Stay Involved   
III. Coercive Control In Specific Populations         
5. Different Gender Arrangements and Coercive Control   
6. Teenage Victims of Coercive Control
IV. Ending Coercive Control
7. Are You Being Victimized?
8. Are You Staying? Expecting Change?
9. Ending the Relationship
10. Feeling Like Yourself Again: Recovering from Coercive Control
11. If Someone You Care About Is Being Victimized by Coercive Control
12. Conclusion

About the Author

Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, has a doctorate in counseling psychology and has worked in the areas of child abuse, violence against women, and challenging family issues for over 25 years. A professor, researcher, and popular conference speaker, she teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She survived a relationship that included coercive control and stalking.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Abuse / Domestic Partner Abuse