Coercive Control ~ When Intimate Partners Bully and Bulldoze

Dr. Jeanne King, PhD. 06/09/2021

Bullies and abusers have a way of bulldozing their way right through the “ask.” They know what they want and nothing is going to get in their way. Sound familiar?

It may start with an apparent pitch that looks like this, “I think we should…”

At first, you may not be certain whether the pitch invites your opinion or is the introduction to the bulldozing effort to follow. You seek to comprehend their suggestion/request, and before you can process it—much less formulate your reply—their eagerness percolates.

Bully Bulldoze Beginnings

You can feel its cascading momentum over your genuine personal preference relative to their request/suggestion. All of your energy attaches to the over-powering insistence and persistence of their “ask.”

In processing it, you lose sight of your own answer to their original question. Before you know it, your focus is exclusively on containing their campaign.

The quest can be so overbearing that you forget to even factor the nuances of their original question. Things that you may normally consider in making most decisions fall to the wayside. There simply is no room for your consideration of implications and consequences.

Pseudo Bulldoze Break

So you buy for time and attempt to pull back out from the mirage of influence and bullish control. Initially this feels good because you have created an intermission for yourself. So you think. You may even believe that in this pause you can return to the business of your own life.

But sure as the day is long, they resurface in email, text and voicemail. And suddenly, you realize that there is no intermission. You are not allowed a break, because God forbid in this sacred space, you could come to your senses.

The chase is on again, but this time layered with manipulation and mind games to seduce your compliance. When you resist engaging, you are scolded and battered. The whippings you get in your effort to hold your own can be so over the top that you begin to break from within.

Bulldozing Over the Top

If you have been in this dynamic for long enough, you may see the pattern and know the importance of your reaching within and demanding escape. You may create your absence so as to regroup and tend to your own life.

Sure enough, the moment your promised return arrives, the chase is on again. Then, if you haven’t re-engaged in the bully party immediately upon this expected return, there will be battering over that as well. Before you know it—in their bulldozing effort—you are flooded with punishment, demands and threats for compliance. In severe cases, you could be met with crippling coercion and violent threats against your life.

You may be drawn to reach for support from others outside of the bully dynamic. Beware as you do, the bully may very well pollute your support network. From here, you may feel as though you are sinking. Don’t give in. Instead, find your clear “no” and detach. Disengage for your survival and find the lesson that this bully has taught you.

If you are in an abusive relationship with an intimate partner, sibling or friend, take a hard and fast look at the dynamics of battering behavior. The sooner you do, the more likely you will break this dangerous cycle of abuse.

For information on domestic abuse, visit

For personal help with your own relationship, visit

Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and couples worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.

© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

One response to “Coercive Control ~ When Intimate Partners Bully and Bulldoze”

  1. Ma says:

    Yes I can see this in my relationship with my partner. It is a conundrum because at times it seems like there is closeness and love but this gets diluted by the constant anger and aggression. I find that I am continuously doubting myself and questioning my needs.

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