Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Forensic Mental Health Counseling
First Advisor or Mentor
The present study utilized the coercive control framework to systematically assess coercion in cults. Former cult members (N=52) of various groups (e.g., psychological & self-help related) were interviewed via telephone for 1.5 to 3 hours. The sample was 67.31% female, 67.31% Caucasian, and 63.46% American; age ranged from 24-68 years old. An existing codebook was used by multiple coders with high intercoder reliability (89.66%). Coercive control tactics were present in all 52 narratives. Manipulation, intimidation, and microregulation were the tactics most frequently utilized. Sexual coercion/abuse, deprivation, and degradation were used least. Data also provided coercive subtactics specific to cults but rarely noted in sex trafficking or intimate partner violence settings allowing for a nuanced understanding of abuse. Findings suggest the coercive control framework can be reliably used to assess how power imbalances are created and maintained in cults to entrap members. This is the first application of coercion control to cultic study of its kind, with strong implications for improved communication between cult researchers.
Feliciano, Sarah E., "An Application of the Coercive Control Framework to Cults" (2023). CUNY Academic Works.