Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Forensic Mental Health Counseling



First Advisor or Mentor

Chitra Raghavan

Second Reader

Shuki Cohen

Third Advisor

Abbie Tuller


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.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.