Navigating a divorce in Colorado can be challenging, especially when domestic violence or coercive control are involved. Understanding the definitions, differences, and similarities between these two forms of abuse is crucial for anyone going through a divorce under these circumstances. This article aims to clarify these concepts and their relevance to divorce proceedings in Colorado.

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. It encompasses a range of behaviors, including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and economic control.

Physical Violence

This involves the use of physical force against a partner, which can result in injury or harm. It’s the most recognizable form of domestic violence.

Sexual Abuse

This includes any sexual acts performed without consent, including marital rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse involves tactics to undermine a partner’s sense of self-worth, including constant criticism, name-calling, and manipulation.

Economic Control

Economic abuse involves controlling a partner’s access to financial resources, thereby limiting their ability to support themselves and forcing them to depend on the abuser.

Defining Coercive Control

Coercive control is a strategic form of ongoing oppression and terrorism used to instill fear. Unlike domestic violence, which often involves physical abuse, coercive control is more about the psychological aspects of control, including:


Cutting off the victim from support systems like friends and family.

Monitoring and Surveillance

Constantly keeping tabs on the victim’s whereabouts and communications.

Micro-regulation of Daily Life

Dictating every aspect of the victim’s daily activities.

Intimidation and Threats

Using threats or intimidation to control the victim’s actions and decisions.

Comparing and Contrasting Domestic Violence and Coercive Control

While both domestic violence and coercive control are forms of abuse within relationships, they differ in their manifestations and impacts.

Physical vs. Psychological

Domestic violence often includes physical abuse, while coercive control is predominantly psychological, focusing on controlling the victim’s mental and emotional state.

Legal Recognition

In Colorado, domestic violence is more readily recognized and defined in legal terms, compared to coercive control, which can be more challenging to prove in court due to its subtle and often non-physical nature.

Impact on Divorce

Both forms of abuse significantly impact divorce proceedings. Victims may face challenges in advocating for themselves, fear for their safety, and struggle with the decision-making process.

Divorce in Colorado with Domestic Violence or Coercive Control

In cases of divorce where domestic violence or coercive control is present, Colorado law provides certain protections and considerations:

Restraining Orders

Victims can seek protection orders to ensure their safety and the safety of their children.

Custody and Visitation

Courts will consider the presence of abuse when determining custody and visitation rights, prioritizing the safety and well-being of the children.

Property and Financial Considerations

The economic impact of abuse can be considered when dividing assets and determining spousal support.


Understanding the nuances between domestic violence and coercive control is crucial for anyone going through a divorce in Colorado under these circumstances. Recognizing the signs, understanding the legal implications, and seeking appropriate support and protection are key steps in navigating this challenging situation. It’s essential for victims to seek legal and psychological support to ensure their rights and well-being are protected during the divorce process.