Stuff You Should Know - Coercive Control, the Invisible Basis of Abuse

Episode Date: June 11, 2024

When we think of an abused spouse we tend to think of horrific physical or emotional violence. But over the last decade or so, it’s become clear that’s only a symptom – that domestic abuse is in... fact an all-consuming form of interpersonal terrorism. See for privacy information.

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Starting point is 00:00:30 or wherever you get your podcasts. The Black Effect presents Family Therapy, and I'm your host, Elliot Connick. Jay is the woman in this dynamic who is currently co-parenting two young boys with her former partner, David. David, he is a leader. He just don't want to leave me. Well, how do you lead a woman?
Starting point is 00:00:47 How do you lead in a relationship? Like, what's the blue part? David, you just asked the most important question. Listen to Family Therapy on the Black Effect Podcast Network, iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to Stuff You Should Know, a production of iHeartRadio. Hey and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh and there's Chuck and Jerry's here too and this is
Starting point is 00:01:18 Stuff You Should Know, the podcast. That's right. Big trigger warning just straight from the jump here because this is about a form of domestic violence more specifically intimate partner violence. Mm-hmm. And it's a tough one so trigger warning. Yeah the reason that it's worth specifying the difference between domestic violence and intimate partner violence is that domestic violence, like you could have a kid who beats up a parent, that's still domestic violence. Intimate partner violence is specifically between two people, same sex, different sex, non-binary, in a relationship where one abuses the other. That's intimate partner violence.
Starting point is 00:02:09 And it almost always includes actual physical violence. Yeah. Or, as we'll see, where they both abuse each other, which is not as typical, obviously. It may be a myth as well. We'll get to that later. Okay. Yeah. So, um, what we're talking about is not just intimate partner violence or domestic violence, but a specific kind of, um, of domestic abuse that for a while just kind of seemed like its own thing, but it seems like as more and more research gets built upon it, um, this thing that we're going to talk about,
Starting point is 00:02:45 coercive control, is actually the basis for a lot of the domestic violence or wife battering that it was long called. That it's actually, what's actually going on beneath the surface and that the actual beatings and the actual rapes inside the home are symptoms or just the most obvious parts or factors in this larger thing which is called coercive control where one partner essentially controls the other partner's life. And that's generally what we're talking about today.
Starting point is 00:03:19 Yeah, and the word coercion means persuasion through threat. So in this case, coercive control is controlling that partner generally through threat. And then, you know, we'll see there's a host of sort of components to all this. But actual violence is almost always a part of it. Not necessarily, 100% always, but a lot of times that violence is part of a, like you said, like a larger plan to use the threat of that violence for control. Right. Or the violence itself, for sure.
Starting point is 00:03:57 Yeah. So our understanding of coercion in general dates back to just after the Korean War. And I remember us discussing this in the brainwashing episode, but there was a whole thing where some POWs appeared to be, to turn collaborators with the Chinese and Korean captors. And it was chalked up to brainwashing that they had been brainwashed, which must mean that they
Starting point is 00:04:23 probably were pretty weak mindedminded to begin with. So give them a break. And there was a social scientist named Albert Bitterman who was not satisfied by that answer and he started studying what tactics the Korean and Chinese captors had used on the POWs to get them to seem to collaborate. And what he found was that they used tactics that he came to kind of break out into what constitutes coercion, how somebody could make someone act against their will, seemingly under their own will, and without just using physical violence.
Starting point is 00:05:04 And he came up with a whole list of stuff, actually. Yeah, and again, just to point out, his whole jam was this is not brainwashing. This is something entirely different. And I think, and I agree with him, I think he thought he was making it more, almost easier to believe believe because brainwashing sounds so kind of out there.
Starting point is 00:05:29 It kind of just conjures to mind like people that literally don't have control of their mind anymore where he's like, hey, coercion can kind of happen to anyone because your brain's not being taken over. And like you said, he came out with this chart of coercion and was like, you know, the Chinese and Korean captors are doing this.
Starting point is 00:05:51 It's not like in World War II with Germany and Japan when actual physical torture was, you know, sort of the main component. In this case, and again, there is some violence, but it's more these tactics and the threat of violence that get someone under your sort of spell in a way. Yeah, because threatening violence, when you're violent with somebody,
Starting point is 00:06:18 there's an end to it. There's a point that the person knows is going to, it's going to come to an end. So now this thing that they've been worried about is actually happening, and that point that the person knows is going to, it's going to come to an end. So now this thing that they've been worried about is actually happening and that means that the end is coming soon too. The threat of violence, there is no end to it. It's always around the corner.
Starting point is 00:06:34 So it can generate like real anxiety in ways that actual violence can't. Yeah. That's just part of it. Another part of it is isolation, monopolization of perception, like keeping people in a room with the lights on 24 hours a day. Um, it just has all sorts of weird effects on people. Uh, it also helps to restrict information.
Starting point is 00:06:57 So they are completely isolated and have no contact or way to get information from outside of their captivity. Those are just a couple of them. Yeah. The list goes on with humiliation, any kind of degrading punishment, stripping people naked, no privacy, not allowed to take care of their bodies and, you know, go to the bathroom in a normal hygienic way or bathe themselves to basically kind of turn people into animals and break them down so they don't resist.
Starting point is 00:07:33 Exhaustion, of course, is one of them. You know, these long interrogations, you know, limiting food, limiting sleep, obviously. So all of this stuff is sort of working them hard. All of this stuff is gonna weaken their ability to resist the coercion. Yeah, and the one that gets me the most is the most despicable of all, or occasional indulgences.
Starting point is 00:07:55 Yeah, I knew you were gonna say that. Because not only does it, it almost like creates like an affinity for the captor in the mind of the POW who's being mistreated Suddenly there's like this generosity that they can latch on to me like yes people there is goodness still in the world But the reason that they're doing that is because it keeps you from getting used to being yes treated man Isn't that just the most despicable thing you can imagine? Yeah, because what that says is that a human being could potentially get so used to that abuse, coercive abuse and physical abuse, that they're not going to talk.
Starting point is 00:08:33 So throw them a bone every now and then, and it just shakes up their mental sort of processes, so they don't get used to it. Yeah, and it makes all abuse after that, that much more effective continuously. There's also demonstrating omnipotence, which I guess just revealing information that they wouldn't guess that you had would be pretty shocking and would also make you feel like, well, there's no, no way to hide anything from these people. They know everything. And then another one was trivial rules.
Starting point is 00:09:04 Did you see that one? Yeah, so I mean, that's, I mean, that can be just any mundane thing, like you, you know, you answer after we knock this many times, or you approach the door in a certain way, just any kind of little trivial rule. And again, it's just about control. Right. And it creates a habit of complying in the subject too, right? So if you put all this together, Bitterman is widely considered to have
Starting point is 00:09:35 essentially identified the techniques of coercion that anybody could use on anyone else. And in fact, the US government apparently used Bitterman's tactics as a playbook at Guantanamo Bay. I'm sure elsewhere as well that we just don't know about at the moment. And there was also this kind of weird thread that also came about a couple decades after Bitterman's research in the 50s.
Starting point is 00:10:03 Starting in the 70s, the, like the women's movement, like we've talked about, really started to gain steam, right? And one of the things that a huge focus was the plight of women who were physically abused by their husbands, battered women, that's what they called them at the time back in the 70s. And one of the things that, that scholars,
Starting point is 00:10:24 feminist scholars in particular at the time back in the seventies. And one of the things that, that scholars, feminist scholars in particular at the time noticed was that there were real parallels between the tactics that Bitterman had identified of coercion used against POWs in the Korean war and reports of how women were treated in the home when they were victims of domestic abuse. And it became clear that these coercion tactics had kind of been adopted unconsciously by
Starting point is 00:10:51 men who abused their wives. And that in a very roundabout way for decades later laid the groundwork for our idea of coercive control. Yeah, I mean, I mean you grew up, you were a little younger than me, but in the 70s and 80s, the notion of, you know, like you said, what they call it at the time, the battered woman, the battered wife was a real, it was really on the radar. I remember when I was a kid, there were movies, there was this, it just scared the crap out of me, not to get too personal with my family, but I've talked a little bit before about having a not-so-great childhood, and just the awareness of that and fighting in the house all combined to just terrify me when I was a kid.
Starting point is 00:11:40 I remember there was, and I looked it up today because I was like, man, I remember there was a TV movie with the guy from MASH that just terrified me. And I looked it up. Which guy from MASH? Honeycutt. So I looked it up. It was an NBC TV movie called Battered.
Starting point is 00:11:57 And it was three sort of stories. Mike Farrell was one of them. Like the nicest guy ever on MASH, played an abusive husband. And it just told each of these stories. And it was, I remember this coming on and it just like, it was awful for a young kid to watch that while also sort of living in a household of yelling and fighting and stuff like that. So it was just, it was a big part of the national landscape if like a kid is hearing about this stuff all the time
Starting point is 00:12:27 via TV movies Another one that came out was obviously the burning bed Which was it's a big case that we're gonna talk about now because it was I mean the movie It was a landmark TV movie, but the the case that it was based on also a landmark case in a lot of ways Yeah one. I'm really sorry that you experienced that as a kid, that's awful. Oh, thanks. And two, yes, the burning bed was a huge, huge deal.
Starting point is 00:12:54 It changed everything. Like this was 1984 that the TV movie came out. I think the book came out in 1980. And the whole thing was based on the experience of a woman who throughout the 70s suffered tremendously at the hands of her husband and then ex-husband who continued to abuse her even after they were divorced. The woman's name was Francine Hughes. Her husband and then ex-husband's name was Mickey Hughes.
Starting point is 00:13:21 And he did everything. He beat her, he raped her, he controlled her. The story itself is actually, you could do an entire episode on it easily. It was just so horrible that this happened. And it so captured the attention of America, thanks to the book and then to the TV movie. It really kind of helped move forward this awareness of just how bad the lives of battered women were. Because it was not a secret that there were
Starting point is 00:13:51 women who were beaten by their husbands in America. Um, I think it was outlawed in the United States first by Alabama in 1871, by 1920, every state has had outlawed, um, wife abuse in the home, right? Yeah. But in the courts, that wasn't enforced. It was very frequently not enforced. And in general, American culture viewed, um,
Starting point is 00:14:15 wife battering, spousal abuse as a private family matter. As long as it happened behind closed doors and your, you know, your wife didn't show up to work if you let her have a job with black eyes, people were probably going to look the other way. Even if you ended up in court over it, criminal court over it, you were still probably going to get off because it was a family matter. And I saw, just real quick, I saw a quote that a writer named Erin Blakemore for I think found. There was a New York City councilman in 1976 named Leon Katz who said,
Starting point is 00:14:52 are we to break up a marriage simply because a man beats his wife? That was the attitude at the time. This is what the feminist movement was up against and circling back to the burning bed, it helped a lot. Yeah, big time. You know, you mentioned in case people are confused about how or why he continued to abuse her after their divorce.
Starting point is 00:15:13 This is over a 13-year period, but they divorced in 1971. He got in a bad car accident and she let him move back into the house and suffered six more years of abuse. He, and this guy was a despicable human being. If all of this abuse wasn't enough, and we're talking, and this is stuff that'll come out, you know, as clear examples, of course, of control, like not just the physical violence,
Starting point is 00:15:41 but threatening her life. She, he made her drop out of secretarial school, burn her books the night of the final incident. And this seems to be a common thing as far as tying in historical, cultural, at the time, domestic roles of like, you know, the wife cooks for the husband and takes care of the kids and this and that. He like destroyed the dinner, threw it on the floor, made her clean it up, made her cook it again, that kind of thing.
Starting point is 00:16:10 And then, in another incident, strangled his daughter's kitten in front of her. Oh, so he actually did. He didn't just threaten to. No, no, no. He did. So, a despicable human to the point where after that final night where she was raped one final time, he passed out drunk, and she set his bed on fire, which is why it's called the burning bed.
Starting point is 00:16:36 And Farrah Fawcett got a lot of acclaim for taking on like a really serious role in portraying Francine Hughes to the great Paul Lamatt's despicable Mickey Hughes. I had not heard of him. I didn't bother to look him up. Who is he? What did he do? Oh, he was a great actor in the 70s. He was in a lot of stuff.
Starting point is 00:16:57 Okay, I didn't recognize him. Yeah, you remember Melvin and Howard, the Jonathan Dimmy movie about the true story of when the guy picked up Howard Hughes as a hitchhiker? No. He was Melvin. And he was in a lot of stuff. Paul Melvin.
Starting point is 00:17:13 Pretty big guy in the 70s and 80s. Okay. I got to see that movie. I've never heard of that. Well, it's not what you think. It's not a fun road trip in the tradition of road trip? No, no, no. It's a very good movie,? In the tradition of road trip?
Starting point is 00:17:26 No, no, no. It's a very good movie, but that's a very small part of it. Anyway, just a couple of more quick points. Just of how reprehensible this case was. When the cops came, that night, they didn't arrest him. And in front of the cops, they later testified, the police said that in front of them, he said, it's over for you because you called the police. In front of the cops and they still didn't arrest him. And after she killed him, she drove straight to the police station and confessed.
Starting point is 00:17:56 Right. And we should say they had kids. And the first thing she did was get the kids out of the house and then go back in and set the bed on fire, set the bedroom on fire around him. So yeah, there was, yeah, the, the, the impact that the book and then the TV movie had and spreading awareness is like really hard to overestimate.
Starting point is 00:18:14 Um, but the, it had another really significant impact too in the courts. Cause remember we said that the courts would just kind of be like, yeah, sorry, you shouldn't have burned dinner. I mean, that's just what women do. You cook dinner and you do it right. Or else who knows what your husband's going to
Starting point is 00:18:31 do kind of thing, right? And this, this, this case that, um, Francine Hughes actually went through when she turned herself into the police and was charged with first degree murder. Um, she got off just because she used a temporary insanity defense. Right.
Starting point is 00:18:48 I think that that was what it took for a jury to be like, okay, fine. We'll let you, we'll let you off. We'll buy that, but we can only buy that because it doesn't matter what else he did to you. All we know about is the physical abuse that happened from time to time. And yeah, that sucks, but is it enough to kill a
Starting point is 00:19:04 man and, um, she had to use temporary insanity and shortly after that I think because of that case a psychologist named Lenore Walker started studying women who had killed their abusers and found that there were a lot of similarities between them and she came up with a concept called battered women syndrome. And essentially it sought to explain how a woman put in a position of being abused could reasonably kill her abuser, even if the abuser's not in the act right then
Starting point is 00:19:38 of committing violence against them. And it laid a really great legal groundwork for a lot of women to follow who did kill their abuser because this had kind of been established like this is a thing and that ultimately kind of came out of the Francine Hughes case. Yeah and she you know she got off on temporary insanity but also may have only gotten off on temporary insanity because of the incredible groundswell of support from, you know, obviously largely women protesting outside the court.
Starting point is 00:20:11 I mean, it was a very well-known case and a very big deal. And it was not one that could just be sort of dealt with as usual because there were hundreds and hundreds of women outside the court every day with signs like demanding acquittal for Francine Hughes. So it was just sort of one of those moments in time in history that changed everything because people spoke up. So that whole, the syndrome really gets a lot of people. Woman's gets a lot of people too. There's some issues with the concept of battered women's syndrome in that it basically says you have to be the kind of woman who is submissive and passive and
Starting point is 00:20:50 your husband's still beating you up. You're still cooking dinner correctly and your husband's still beating you up. It calls for like a certain kind of perfect victim for juries to accept battered women's syndrome defense. And some people are like, okay, we need something that's like more gender neutral. And essentially says any reasonable person would kill their abuser given these circumstances. And so battered women's syndrome has kind of evolved over time and the circumstances that have kind of been laid as the groundwork for
Starting point is 00:21:22 that reasonable woman to kill her abuser, a reasonable person to kill her abuser, was coercive control. Yeah, and within that Lenore Walker sort of groundwork that she laid, one of the big things that she focused on was something called learned helplessness. And that is this concept that, hey, they have learned to be helpless. They probably didn't go into this relationship, or not necessarily went into this relationship like that, but through the tactics of coercive control,
Starting point is 00:21:53 AKA torture, when looked at in a military setting, they have learned to be helpless, and maybe the only option is to set their bed on fire. Yeah, but that's also a good example of how other communities like black communities, like black women in particular, are left out of that battered women's tenure because again, it requires them, the victim to be perfect,
Starting point is 00:22:17 white, submissive, middle class typically. And if you're a black woman, culturally speaking, in America, you're viewed as much stronger, physically, emotionally you're a black woman, culturally speaking in America, you're viewed as much stronger physically, emotionally than a white woman of that description. And so it'd be tough for you to use battered women's syndrome because maybe you didn't learn learned helplessness and that's a part of it. Maybe you do seem like you you wouldn't put up with much guff so you killed the guy. Who knows? It's just that battered women syndrome was much more limiting.
Starting point is 00:22:48 And then one of the things that coercive control does is really kind of spread it out. And it takes the woman out, and it takes the syndrome out and says, this happens a lot. And it's a pattern that can result in the abuser being killed by the abused. And that's a reasonable response to that kind of treatment.
Starting point is 00:23:07 Yeah. Should we take a break? Yeah, for sure. All right. We'll be right back with more on coercive control. We're serving the whole story. Be Chopa. Christina Aguilera. Xtina. Just to name a few. We're serving the whole story. From rags to riches. And all the tea in between.
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Starting point is 00:26:29 making sure that your partner doesn't have autonomy by controlling them. And he wrote a book in 2007 called Coercive Control, colon, of course, the entrapment of women in personal life. Evan Stark has done some pretty great work in 1979, started getting into domestic violence work along with his wife, who was a physician named Ann Flitcraft, who worked at Yale New Haven Hospital and noticed in the 70s that way more women were coming into the ER that had been beaten up by their partner than the statistics typically had indicated. I think it was supposedly like one in 20 and she said it's actually more like one in four. 06 Yeah, that was another way that I think society
Starting point is 00:27:23 lived with itself and being complicit in allowing domestic abuse. It was pretty rare. And Flickrath was like, no, 25% of women who come into the ER were beaten by their husbands or sent there by their husbands, right? So in addition to kind of supporting the women's movement at the time and their assertions that this was a big deal and we need to do something about it and it's really widespread.
Starting point is 00:27:51 Flickrath's research inspired her husband to kind of go off and do this parallel work, I guess, where he tried to figure out how to explain how a woman could kill her husband and it not be because she's crazy or because she was a perfect victim. So he started looking into, like they did some side research together, and they found something that people hadn't really realized before, that in addition to women reporting being beaten, they also reported this whole kind of cluster of other mistreatment at the hands of their spouse. And they kind of followed a pattern, and those patterns really resembled the coercion that Albert Bitterman had identified back in the 50s. Yeah, I mean, it was kind of Bitterman plus almost, because in the context of a domestic partnership or marriage or whatever and not a POW.
Starting point is 00:28:49 Yeah. And again, this is in the 1970s and early 80s when the culture of how you partner and what partners are responsible for was a lot different than it is now. So this is in context of back then. I mean, even 10 years ago, Chuck. Oh yeah, for sure. But especially in the late 70s and early 80s, it was, as far as coercive control goes, things, again, like dinner.
Starting point is 00:29:17 Are my clothes ready? Are they ironed properly? Have you cared for the kids in the right way? And not just like, oh, I'm watching, but like you said, even the perfect dinner could be made and that's thrown on the floor. It's all about controlling and manipulating and that threat of physical violence
Starting point is 00:29:39 that is peppered in along the way to kind of hold that weight. Yeah, and the fact that at the way to, you know, to kind of hold that weight. Yeah. And the fact that, um, at the time, especially American culture viewed those roles as specifically for women, then a man being upset when dinner wasn't made correctly, I mean, that's not, that didn't strike anybody as completely abnormal. That wasn't like a, Hey, hey, what's going on here kind of thing. And that helped reinforce these patterns of domestic abuse that included coercion, like constant criticism and nagging that led to dehumanization, the humiliation that having your dinner
Starting point is 00:30:17 thrown on the floor being made to clean it up and then recook it creates in the person. This is the stuff that Evan Stark really started to tease out from the battered women literature and created like this whole body of, of research that. It's weird. The way that I saw it was he took this kind of like little germ that grew out of like a, a flower that was in the midst of blossoming and found that that germ led to actually the foundation
Starting point is 00:30:45 that the flower was growing out of. You just confused me. Was it confusing? So the women's movement was making a headway with the battered wives awareness movement, right? That's the flower blossoming. And then Evan Stark comes along and is looking at that and he notices there's a little piston or something or a stamen. Can never remember what's what.
Starting point is 00:31:07 Pistol. Sure. And that's growing, not a piston, a pistol, right? And that's growing out of that flower. And that pistol is coercive control. And as he started to follow it, he realized that actually that's not just this little part of the flower. This is the thing, the substance
Starting point is 00:31:25 that the flower is growing from. That coercive control is really what's going on in the vast majority of domestic abuse cases. The battering that can bring the cops to the house, that's just what we witnessed. That's just what pops its head up in the public sphere. Behind closed doors, it's even worse than any of us even imagined.
Starting point is 00:31:46 Yeah, and what this all led to is basically, the long and the short was they were saying, you shouldn't have to show bruises to have someone believe that you're being abused because there's all kinds of abuse. A woman, at the time, and I'm sure this still goes on sometimes, but at the time, like, if you were an abused partner in a relationship and you had children, they may take your kids away as the victim slash survivor because the kids witnessed this stuff
Starting point is 00:32:21 and they might be in foster care. So, this was sort of a normal thing at the time and they were saying like, no, you don't have to show bruises. The partner doesn't necessarily have to have mental health problems and lose their children. So in 1990, Stark opened a forensic social work practice where he would go in and testify in court on behalf of these women and say, you know, and sort of preach this gospel basically on behalf of these women saying you can't take their kids away. There was, I believe, 15 women in New York that had their kids placed in foster care that he testified for and one of them actually murdered her abusive husband.
Starting point is 00:33:05 So he was really doing some pretty astounding work. Yeah, imagine, Chuck, like you have to plead insanity or temporary insanity so that you don't get the electric chair or the gas chamber. But then they're like, okay, but you're crazy. So you can't have your kids anymore because your husband abused you. That's the hand you ended up being dealt in life. Yeah. And I mean, once they started diving into the research, they found that 60 to 80%
Starting point is 00:33:33 of women who look for assistance because of violence in the household have experienced coercive control. So 20 to 40% is just physical violence, but up to 80 percent is like controlling and manipulating their lives. You know, like they make movies about this stuff now. I don't know how this became a movie plot, but I feel like I've seen half a dozen movies where there's some sicko guy that like has detailed instructions written for their wife to follow to the T Over you know I can't think of any of them right now of course, but it's someone just recently I I can't think of any either right now. Yeah, I've just seen that as a plotline a lot lately And that's that's all coercive control of course in these movies. You know it's always a great hat like
Starting point is 00:34:27 Sleeping with the enemy that kind of thing. Yeah, but he was a physical abuser too? Oh yeah, for sure. And that's an old one. I feel like the newer ones have been more along the lines of these, what was it I just saw recently? But in the end, of course, there's always a good ending and that guy gets what's coming to him. Oh yeah.
Starting point is 00:34:44 Because it's a movie. So as Stark's research kind of gelled and solidified, like you said, in the 80s, 90s especially, up until I think 2007 when he published that book, like you said, he came up with basically signs and symptoms of coercive control as a form of domestic abuse. Um, and there is physical violence that is actually, um, not just a part of coercive control, but in relationships where, um, the husband dominates the wife through coercive control, the physical abuse that the woman suffers is actually worse than other kinds of, um, couple situations where physical abuse happens. than other kinds of couple situations where physical abuse happens.
Starting point is 00:35:25 So it's more frequent and it's worse, but you really wanna kind of limit that part because it can easily mislead you into being like, this is what we're focusing on, because that's what we did for decades. And it's like, no, there's focus on this, but also expand your focus to include all this other stuff as well. Yeah, some of this other stuff and again it'll sound a lot like what we detailed with torture
Starting point is 00:35:52 and the Korean War but isolation of course, that's a big one, isolating a partner or spouse from their family and their friends, controlling their comings and goings and social activities, spreading lies. Maybe, hey, we need to move to another state to like really isolate them. You can't go to this thing. You can't go to your book club. That kind of thing. Just, you know, isolation and constant monitoring.
Starting point is 00:36:21 And these days that can, that goes all the way to like you know cameras in different rooms of the house and spyware and GPS tracking and stuff like that. Yeah because the more people that your your abused spouse interacts with the higher the likelihood that they're they're going to be confronted with this idea that what they're being treated like is not okay and not normal. So if you limit their interactions, you can keep them more under your thumb. That's something that Stark identified. Also another way to control them is through restricting their finances, which is another
Starting point is 00:36:58 thing that was up until very recently very culturally supported as well. The man had the checkbook, right? In a lot of traditional families. The man had the credit card, the car was in the man's name, the house was in the husband's name. Like it was, that's just how it was. So it didn't seem particularly abnormal or a form of control, even though that's how it's used
Starting point is 00:37:21 a lot of times, where the man is able to keep his wife from running away because she doesn't have the money in some cases. Well, yeah, and also like, I have no credit, no bank account, no job, no job history, no car sometimes. It's really like, it's such a limiting thing that the very idea of leaving is scarier than staying in a, and of course this has got huge air quotes around it, but a stable situation as far as having a home above your head and being able to buy groceries and stuff like
Starting point is 00:38:01 that. Yeah, and the resources that are out there that are like, no, you don't have to have a car, you don't have to have a credit card, we'll come get you, we'll take care of you, we'll help you get on your feet, which I think was really well demonstrated in that movie or limited series made. I never saw that one.
Starting point is 00:38:21 What is her name? Margaret Qualley. Yes, oh, it's just amazing. Like, I name? Um, uh, Margaret Qualley. Yes. She, oh, it's just amazing. Like I just think about that every once in a while. It's just so good, but they did a good job of showing like how that actually works. The problem is, is if you're being constantly monitored, including your internet activity, if you go onto one of those sites, you're in trouble, you're going to
Starting point is 00:38:42 raise the, the attention of your abuser. And those sites actually, when you go onto them, like a domestic violence help site, they'll pop up, will come up immediately and say, hey, if your computer's being monitored, they can see that you're visiting the site, so be careful. So it's like just complete.
Starting point is 00:39:01 You can't escape. The places that can help you escape, you can't reach out to because you're being monitored. And then on top of it, and this is like a day-to-day thing, like your sleep, your eating, your whatever medications you take, whatever just basic things that people take care of themselves, this is controlled for you. Like your medicine's left out. This is what we're going to have for dinner. make sure it's cooked by six on the dot. We're gonna go to bed at this time,
Starting point is 00:39:29 and we're gonna have sex now, and you're just going to go along with it. That's another huge part sexual coercion is. Another one is humiliation, you know, we talked about that as far as the war torture, same deal, criticizing their appearance, making fun of them in front of other people, and then controlling how they look. You know, you don't wear this, don't
Starting point is 00:39:49 wear that. You have to wear what I say. You have to wear your hair like this, that kind of thing. Yeah, PUSS also, don't forget threats. Those are a big deal too. Not just the threat of violence, but also the threat of saying like, I'm going to get the kids. If you try to leave me, I'm taking the kids from you.'re coming with me like any kind of threat helps just kind of underpin this sense of of control or helplessness and so there's a another kind of separate thread of I guess research by a guy named a sociologist named Michael Johnson who identified the same thing as coercive
Starting point is 00:40:22 control but he said no I'm gonna call this intimate terrorism. And he said that there's basically just different kinds of domestic violence and coercive control is one of just a few of them. Yeah, I mean, you mentioned earlier, somebody getting abused in a situation, but it's not part of a larger abuse pattern. He defines that as situational couple violence,
Starting point is 00:40:46 whether it's one person hitting the other, both of them kind of going at it after usually consuming alcohol. It's a big component of a lot of this. And especially in the 70s, all those movies I've talked about, all those guys were all drunks as well. And that is a result of anger management skills, poor conflict revolution, still terrible but
Starting point is 00:41:10 not coercive control. And then the idea of violent resistance, which is the person being beaten ultimately will retaliate basically, either as retaliation, as payback, in an effort to resist being controlled or just to maintain their dignity. And in those situations, it's sort of like there is no other choice at this point other than to strike back. Right. That's the opposite, essentially, or the outcome of coercive control sometimes, I guess. That's what Farrah Fawcett did in The Burning Bed. Yes. There's also this
Starting point is 00:41:49 concept that you touched on way early in this episode about how it could be mutual, mutual violent control or mutual abuse and that's kind of a controversial topic because some people are like no by definition coercive control means one partner has power over the other partner. They can't have equal power over each other, even like seesawing power. It just doesn't work that way. And I think some people think it's a myth because what they're saying is you're seeing an abused person push back or fight back or defend themselves. And you're mistaking that for abuse when really they're responding to being abused. That doesn't make it mutual. That's a normal, rational response to being abused is to fight back. And I think that's why people who think it's a myth say it's a myth.
Starting point is 00:42:33 Yeah, for sure. Coercive control versus just sort of a situational violent episode or episodes. You're more likely, if it's coercive control, and this makes a lot of sense, of course, to suffer from mental health problems later on as a survivor than you would with just situational violence. When partners separate, it is actually likely to get worse. Yeah, that's crazy. Which, that was the case with The Burning Bed.
Starting point is 00:43:03 You know, they were divorced, he moved back in, and there were six more years of abuse, but separation is gonna threaten that sense of control, so a lot of times it will intensify, and that's when stalking behaviors pick up, obviously if they're not in the same household anymore. And coercive control, the violent episodes are usually more
Starting point is 00:43:26 serious and more frequent, which is what you alluded to earlier. Right. So Chuck, I say we take our second break and come back and talk about whether this whole thing is gender specific or not. All right, let's do it. We're serving the whole story. Harold G. La Bichota. Christina Aguilera. Xtina. Just to name a few. We're serving the whole story. From rags to riches. And all the tea in between. I'm Lilliana Vasquez.
Starting point is 00:44:14 And I'm Joseph Carrillo. And we're the host of Becoming an Icon Season 2. Guess who's back in a house. And we're bringing you even more stories behind the world's biggest stars in Latin music. Certified Latin royalty. Consider us your star sleuths, your cheese my besties, digging beneath los mejores exitos
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Starting point is 00:44:53 Hey, fam, I'm Simone Boyce. I'm Danielle Robay. And we're the hosts of The Bright Side, the daily podcast from Hello Sunshine that is guaranteed to light up your day. Every weekday, we bring you conversations with the culture makers who inspire us. Like our recent episode with legendary singer-songwriter and mental health advocate, Jewel. All of our hearts are destined to be broken at some point.
Starting point is 00:45:18 It's what we do with the pieces that make us extraordinary. And so it's each of our jobs to learn to become alchemists, to turn the poison into medicine. And we all have some kind of resource available to us. Listen to the Bright Side from Hello Sunshine on the iHeart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. My simple solution to the problem was remove people from the scene and help them feel safer. In response to attacks against Asian Americans, Maddie Park raised over $250,000 to donate cab rides to the Asian community. There is so much more work to be done.
Starting point is 00:46:04 We really need to come together and tackle this issue as a community. Support the Asian community. Learn how at Brought to you by Love Has No Labels and the Ad Council. So, there's just kind of a discussion or a debate about coercive control and whether it's gender specific and specifically meaning the husband dominates the wife. And researchers like Evan Stark, who coined the term coercive control, another sociologist named Kristen L. Anderson say, yes, that's absolutely how it is. Some of them may even allow, like it does in very rare instances, happen the opposite
Starting point is 00:46:55 way where the woman dominates the man. But for the most part, because of these social structures that coercive control takes advantage of to kind of hide in plain sight and seem normalish, that requires that it be a man dominating a woman. Yeah and Livia helped us with this and she did something that Livia rarely does which is sort of include her own speculation and I totally agree that when Stark was doing his work sort of in the late 70s and early 80s or through the 80s, things were different, dynamics were different, and women do have more access to institutional power these days and the idea of just sort of
Starting point is 00:47:38 traditional roles in the household are different these days. But from where Stark was coming from, I totally get where he would say essentially that like even if violence, like if a woman hits a man, it's very very rare for a woman to have the kind of economic control and financial control in the household, maybe a better job, she came into it with more money. She's the one that owns a house. I think that was just a lot more rare back then. Well, plus also Chuck, there's studies that show that even earning a higher income than your husband
Starting point is 00:48:13 not only doesn't protect you from domestic violence, it actually increases your risk. There's a 2021 Australia study that said that if you earn more than half of the household income, your risk of being a victim of domestic violence as a woman increases 35%. So yeah, it really kind of supports the idea that this whole thing is based on these gender norms of a man dominating a woman. Yeah, there's a sociologist named Kristin Anderson in 2009 wrote a paper that kind of supported that basically was
Starting point is 00:48:46 like one of the reasons that men might engage more in coercive control or maybe even exclusively is to devalue femininity and to boost up their own male ego. And in cases where, and this is in, you know, way before like 11 years before that when you cited, she was talking about the fact that when a woman earns more than her husband, that threatens a man's masculinity and that's when trouble happens. Yeah. So on the other hand, there are also studies that say, no, women actually do use coercive
Starting point is 00:49:19 control in some cases. It might not be as widespread and there might not be as much physical violence, but all of the other stuff like monitoring, isolating from support network, threats, humiliation, that is not on how nuanced a definition of coercive control you want to give, whether it's kind of gender specific or not. Yeah, and that 2022 study, just to be clear, was when they have found women who have been the perpetrator of intimate partner violence, in those situations they are more likely than their male counterparts to have used coercive control rather than physical abuse, which is a big distinction. It is for sure, but then one other thing that has come out of research too is that this can also occur in same-sex couples,
Starting point is 00:50:18 that one can dominate the other, which also kind of undermines the idea that it's gender specific. Yeah, for sure. So there's a big push to say, okay, we've got this whole domestic violence battered women's syndrome defense going. What about the women who don't show up to the ER with a broken arm or a black eye or something, but their lives are still completely controlled and just destroyed by their husbands, how do we get them out of those situations? And some people are like, well, let's figure out how to outlaw coercive control. And some places have, as a matter of fact.
Starting point is 00:50:56 Yeah, for sure. There have been some states that have passed some laws about coercive control, some countries that have taken action, and they all kind of work in myriad ways. In the UK, it is defined as a crime, which is great. In the United States, like California, they made it – this is interesting – they made it a civil violation as part of their – the family code of the state. So you can use it – it's less like a crime throw a person in jail and more use it civilly to
Starting point is 00:51:27 Get a restraining order maybe or if there's a custody dispute or something it can be used and we should draw a clear distinction here It's like it's obvious I think but this is not this has nothing to do with like BDSM Which is can involve? BDSM, which is can involve dominating someone very specific instructions and control on you know, sexual behaviors in the bedroom. That's a completely different thing than what we're talking about here. Yeah, because it's willing. There's no coercion involved even it's like simulated. Exactly.
Starting point is 00:52:01 Yeah, and Livia cited this California case that that where a woman was able to use coercive control, where she did not suffer any physical violence, but was controlled by her husband, like who gave her pages and pages of instructions on how to do everything from wash the dishes to. Those are the moves. Right. Exactly.
Starting point is 00:52:19 This guy actually did it, um, to what time she was to, to get, wake up and get out of bed. And every day at 8 30 PM, they had a standing appointment where he would go over how she guy actually did it, to what time she was to, to get, wake up and get out of bed. And every day at 8 30 PM, they had a standing appointment where he would go over how she did that day and there would be the threat of punishments or something like that. And I couldn't find what that, the punishments entailed, but that's how she lived.
Starting point is 00:52:37 And she finally escaped it by getting a restraining order based on that. And that was a huge, huge case that came out of California. And so other places are like, oh, we can do this. Other advocates are like, wait, wait, wait, we should be careful with this because there's already a history of abusers using anti-abuse laws against their victims. Like when the cops show up, very often the abusers are the more convincing of the two. And if you have a he said, she said, and you're a male cop who kind of thinks that, you know, a woman's place actually is in the home, you're probably going to believe
Starting point is 00:53:13 the abuser or in other cases, you're going to arrest both people just to be sure. So that means that a victim of abuse is likely to get arrested for being abused if the cops come out. And so because they have a history of already using the existing laws, coercive control is even harder. It's even squishier to prove or to see or witness. So it may be even likelier that a victim of abuse will end up going to jail because their abuser accused them of doing the abuse. Yeah, there was a case in Australia, sort of a really spot on example of how awful this can get when you're coming to the front door as a police officer. And there's something that's happened there.
Starting point is 00:54:01 This woman's name was Tamika Malaylee, a witty indigenous woman who was attacked by her partner, Mervyn Bell. Cops show up. She's trying to get the cops to talk to her father to try and like verify that this stuff is going on. The cops aren't listening. She's arguing with the cops and then allegedly spit on them or spit at them. And so they arrest her.
Starting point is 00:54:28 She goes into custody and while she was in custody, her partner kidnapped and killed her baby. Yeah. It caused a huge national reckoning about, you know, cops believing not just women, but especially marginalized women and women from marginalized communities who do not get the benefit of the doubt compared to say like a white woman in the same exact situation. And so that's another example of them being like, okay, should we really outlaw this stuff
Starting point is 00:54:54 and make it easier for the abuse to be arrested? But it's still, it seems to be up in the air, you know, which way to go. But I feel like people are going more toward outlawing coercive control than saying like, whoa, whoa, whoa, we shouldn't do that. Yeah. And, you know, criminalizing is one thing. A lot of the other things that researchers have pointed to that can help, you know, just an episode like this, for example, public awareness on stuff like this,
Starting point is 00:55:25 encouraging friends and family to sort of pay attention to that kind of thing, rather than just looking for bruises or whatever. Or being like, yeah, husbands get jealous. That's just what husbands do and explaining it away. Yeah, providing resources to help people, because we mentioned that that especially with coercive control a lot of times they're in situations where they will leave with nothing. So resources so people feel like they can leave with nothing and still survive is very,
Starting point is 00:55:55 very important. Yeah. And then improving women's position in society overall would help a lot if women were treated more equally, not just on paper but culturally as well that would solve a lot of these problems. Yeah for sure. So there has been some progress the the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was passed and since then domestic violence non-fatal domestic violence in the United States fell 63% and intimate partner homicides fell from 2,200 to 1,640 for female victims, 1,100 to 700 for male victims.
Starting point is 00:56:33 So there is, there is like, you know, progress being made, but there's still a long, long way to go, unfortunately. Yeah. And to be clear, that is cases of physical violence we don't we don't have studies like that on coercive control which is part of the problem. Yeah. You got anything else? Yeah you know we should encourage people there is a national domestic violence hotline it's open 24-7 in English and Spanish it's 1-800 or I guess just 800 these days,
Starting point is 00:57:06 shows how old I am. 799-7233. 800-799-7233. I can't imagine how hard it is to make that phone call. But if this episode speaks to your life in a specific way, then please seek help If this episode speaks to your life in a specific way, then please seek help and reach out to a friend or family member for help to help you pick up that phone if that's what it takes.
Starting point is 00:57:34 Agreed, Chuck, well put, and thanks for saying that too. Yeah, and whatever country you're in, most likely has some sort of hotline, so we can't list them all here, but but please look into that. Yeah If you want to know more about coercive control start reading about it on the internet There's a growing body of research about it and it's fascinating and repellent at the same time But hopefully it's going to improve lives across the board. And since I said that it's time for listener mail I'm gonna call this documentary recommendation for you, my friend. Oh, okay. I like this.
Starting point is 00:58:14 Hey guys, I've been listening for a long time. Love what you do. Never really thought I'd have a reason to email, but this felt to Kismet. It's kind of a fun coincidence. My roommate and I just watched the documentary The World Before Your Feet last night and in the movie, there's a lot of trash on the streets of New York. We were just curious about the trash issue and the whole situation. We'd both been to New York, but it had been a while, so we forgot how bad it was. Midway through that episode of Yours Now, and Josh said, I wish there was a way to see what was there.
Starting point is 00:58:43 I knew I had to write in because this is probably a documentary that he would enjoy nice In the doc Matt Green has a goal to walk every street in New York City In the doc he has followed around on parts of his journey by the documentarian and he tells stories about New York City and its history Throughout the journey he also writes comprehensive blog posts and in those posts he writes about New York's history and what buildings and spaces used to be. So whether you want to watch the doc or read the blog posts there's an answer to your curiosity. And that is again it's called The World Before Your Feet and that is from Tia. Thanks a lot Tia. I appreciate that. I will definitely go check that out. It is right up my alley Walking every street in New York, man. I'm still wrapping my head around that one. Pretty cool
Starting point is 00:59:34 Well, if you want to be like Tia and recommend a documentary, please do especially if it has nothing to do with ancient aliens You can wrap it up spank it on the bottom and send it off to Stuff You Should Know is a production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts, my heart radio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Hi, I'm Dani Shapiro, host of the hit podcast, Family Secrets. Imagine this, your parents sign away your childhood to an academic psychological study. And what about if your sister is very publicly tried, convicted, and sent to prison when really she was just telling her long-buried truths? These tough questions
Starting point is 01:00:25 are just a few that we'll be grappling with on our upcoming 10th season of Family Secrets. Listen to season 10 of Family Secrets on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. You may know Jackson Pollock, the painter famous for his iconic drip paintings. But what do you know about his wife, artist Lee Krasner? On Death of an Artist, Krasner and Pollock, the story of the artist who reset the market for American abstract painting, just maybe not the one you're thinking of. Listen to Death of an Artist, Krasner and Pollock on the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts,
Starting point is 01:01:01 or wherever you listen to podcasts. The Black Effect presents Family Therapy, and I'm your host, Elliot Conning. Jay is the woman in this dynamic who is currently co-parenting two young boys with her former partner, David. David, he is the leader. He just don't want to leave me. Well, how do you lead a woman? How do you lead in a relationship?
Starting point is 01:01:23 Like, what's the blue part? David, you just asked the most important question. Listen to Family Therapy on the Black Effect Podcast Network, iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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