Last night RTE aired “Taking Back Control” a documentary that sheds light on the impact of coercive control and the experience of one very brave lady, Nicola Hanney.
Nicola, the former partner of the jailed garda who carried out this campaign of psychological abuse and control, has spoken publicly for the first time about the abuse and control she suffered while battling stage four cancer. Nicola’s story is a testament to the resilience and courage that exist in the face of unimaginable coercive control. Her decision to step out of the shadows and share her harrowing experiences in the documentary “Taking Back Control” is nothing short of heroic. Despite battling a terminal illness, Nicola found the strength within herself to confront the abuse and psychological torment inflicted upon her in every conceivable way.
What makes Nicola’s bravery even more profound is her motivation, the unwavering love for her son. Faced with the terrifying prospect that her abuser, a supposed pillar of society and a Garda who had taken an oath to serve and protect, might gain custody of her child, Nicola fought tooth and nail to shield her family from such a grim fate. The threats she received from her abuser underscore the depth of the darkness she confronted, highlighting the insidious nature of coercive control.
The documentary, skilfully crafted by Trevor Birney and produced by Fine Point Films Ltd, serves as a powerful tool to spark conversations about coercive control. It sheds light on the nuances of this form of abuse, differentiating it from other types, and explores the challenges victims face in escaping such situations.
The film delves into the legal landscape post the 2019 amendments to the Domestic Violence Act, prompting viewers to consider how abusers manipulate positions of power and trust to maintain their control.
Nicola’s hope, by sharing her painful journey, is to educate others about the early signs of unhealthy relationships, offering a lifeline to those who may not recognise coercive control but feel that something isn’t right. Her story becomes a beacon for victims, urging them to break free from the shackles of silence and seek help before it’s too late.
As viewers we are reminded never to question why a woman stays in an abusive situation. Nicola, living every mother’s nightmare, fought for her life and the safety of her child, the most precious thing in the world to her. The documentary encourages a shift in perspective, emphasising the importance of supporting friends enduring abuse rather than judging their decisions.
In the closing moments of the documentary, Nicola’s friend Niamh articulates a poignant message of hope and perseverance. The plea to hang in there for a friend resonates, assuring that one day, freedom from the abuser will arrive, allowing the survivor to rediscover their true self.
The hope remains that the justice system and agencies like TUSLA will safeguard Nicola and others from further harm, denying access to those who weaponize power and trust for malicious ends. Nicola’s bravery, amplified through this documentary, becomes a catalyst for change, illuminating the path toward empathy, understanding, and a collective commitment to ending the cycle of coercive control.
Watch full documentary HERE
If you are experiencing coercive control or domestic violence, or any form of gender based violence and abuse please reach out to HERE or call 1800 341 900.
Call An Garda Siochana website HERE or call 999 / 112.