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June 11, 2024 54 mins

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. 

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you Should Know, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh, and there's
Chuck and Jerry's here too, and this is Stuff you
should know the podcast.

Speaker 1 (00:18):
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, and it's a tough one. So
trigger warning.

Speaker 2 (00:39):
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

(01:00):
relationship where one abuses the other. That's intimate partner violence,
and it almost always includes actual physical violence.

Speaker 1 (01:09):
Yeah, or as we'll see, where they both abuse each other,
which is not as typical.

Speaker 2 (01:15):
Obviously it may be a myth as well. We'll get
to that later. Okay. Yeah, So what we're talking about
is not just intimate partner violence or domestic violence, but
a specific kind of domestic abuse that for a while
just kind of seemed like its own thing. But it

(01:36):
seems like as more and more research gets built upon it.
This thing that we're going to talk about, 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

(01:59):
home are symptoms or just the most obvious parts or
factors in this larger thing, which is called coerceive control,
where one partner essentially controls the other partner's life. And
that's generally what we're talking about today.

Speaker 1 (02:16):
Yeah, And the word coercion means, you know, persuasion through threat.
So in this case, coerceve control is controlling that partner
generally through 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.

(02:39):
Not necessarily 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.

Speaker 2 (02:51):
Right, or the violence itself for sure.

Speaker 1 (02:53):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (02:55):
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

(03:16):
up to brainwashing, that they had been brainwashed, which must
mean that they probably were pretty weak minded to begin with,
so give him a break. And there was a social
scientist named Albert Bitterman who was not satisfied by the answer,
and he started studying what tactics the Korean and Chinese
captors had used on the POWs to get them to

(03:39):
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 phys violence. And he came up with a

(04:02):
whole list of stuff.

Speaker 1 (04:03):
Actually, yeah, and you know, again just to point out,
like 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, because brainwashing sounds so kind

(04:24):
of out there when you it kind of just conjuous
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, and your 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,

(04:45):
the Chinese and Korean captors are doing this. It's not
like uh in World War Two with Germany in 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

(05:05):
that get someone under your sort of spell in a way.

Speaker 2 (05:10):
Yeah, because threatening violence, when you're violent with somebody, there's
an end to it. There's a point that the person
knows is 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. So it can generate like

(05:32):
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 twenty four hours a day. It just
has all sorts of weird effects on people. It also
helps to restrict information so they are completely isolated and

(05:57):
have no contact or way to get information from outside
of their captivity. Those are just a couple of them.

Speaker 1 (06:04):
Yeah, the list goes on with humiliation, any kind of
degrading punishment, you know, 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 and to

(06:25):
animals and break them down so they don't resist. 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 going to weaken their ability to resist
the coercion.

Speaker 2 (06:47):
Yeah, and the one that gets me the most is
the most despicable of all occasional indulgences. Yeah, I know
you're 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 onto and be like, yes, people,

(07:07):
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 mistreated. Man, isn't that just the
most despicable thing you can imagine?

Speaker 1 (07:18):
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. 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.

Speaker 2 (07:38):
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 way to hide anything from these people. They
know everything. And then another one was trivial rules. Did

(08:01):
you see that one?

Speaker 1 (08:02):
Yeah, So I mean that's I mean, that can be
just any mundane thing, like you know, you answer after
we knock this many times, or you approached the door
in a certain way, just any kind of little trivial rule.
And again it's just about control.

Speaker 2 (08:23):
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 essentially identified the techniques
of coercion that anybody could use on anyone else. And
in fact, the US government apparently used Betterman's tactics as

(08:43):
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 fifties.
Already in the seventies, the women's movement, like we've talked about,

(09:03):
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 call them at the time, back in the seventies.
And one of the things that scholars, feminist scholars in
particular at the time noticed was that there were real

(09:26):
parallels between the tactics that Bitterman had identified of coercion
used against POW's 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 men

(09:48):
who abused their wives, and that, in a very roundabout way,
for decades later, laid the groundwork for our idea of
coercive control.

Speaker 1 (09:58):
Yeah, I mean, I mean you grew up. You were
a little younger than me. But in the seventies and eighties,
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 there were movies,
there was this It just scared the crap out of me.

(10:20):
Not to get too personal with my family, but you know,
I've talked a little bit before about having a nuts
great childhood, and that just that the awareness of that
and fighting in the house all combined to just terrify me.
When I was a kid. 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

(10:42):
from mash that just terrified me. And I looked at
you from Honeycut, So I looked at it was an
NBC TV movie called Battered, and it was three sort
of stories. Mike Ferrell was one of them, like the
nicest guy ever on MAS played an abusive husband and

(11:02):
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 was 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

(11:23):
time via TV movies. Another one that came out was
obviously The Burning Bed, which was is a big case
that we're going to talk about now because it was
I mean, the movie it was a landmark TV movie,
but the case that it was based on also a
landmark case in a lot of ways.

Speaker 2 (11:40):
Yeah, One, I'm really sorry that you experienced that as
a kid. That's awful things. And two, yes, the Burning
Bed was a huge, huge deal. It changed everything. Like
this was nineteen eighty four that the TV movie came out.
I think the book came out in nineteen eighty and
the whole thing was based on the experience of a

(12:02):
woman who throughout the seventies 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. And he did everything like he beat her,
he raped her, he controlled her. The story itself is

(12:26):
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

(12:46):
secret that there were women who were beaten by their
husbands in America. I think it was outlawed in the
United States, first by Alabama in eighteen seventy one. By
nineteen twenty, every state has had outlawed wife abuse in
the home right, Yeah, but in the courts that wasn't enforced.

(13:07):
There was very frequently not enforced, and in general American
culture viewed wife battering spousal abuse as a private family matter.
As long as it happened buying closed doors and your
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

(13:29):
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 Aaron blakemore for
I think history dot Com found there was a New
York City councilman in nineteen seventy six named Leon Katz
who said, are we to break up a marriage simply

(13:50):
because a man beats his wife? Like that was the
attitude at the time. So this is what the feminist
movement was up against. And circling back to the burning
bed help a.

Speaker 1 (14:00):
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. This is over a thirteen
year period. But they divorced in nineteen seventy one, he
got in a bad car accident and she let him
move back into the house and suffered six more years

(14:20):
of abuse. 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, but threatening her life. She made her drop

(14:41):
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. In
this and that he like destroyed the dinner, threw it

(15:03):
on the floor, made her clean it up, made her
cook it again, that kind of thing. And then in
another incident, strangled his daughter's kitten in front of uh.

Speaker 2 (15:14):
He actually did. He didn't just threaten.

Speaker 1 (15:16):
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. And Fara Faucet got a lot
of acclaim for taking on like a really serious role

(15:37):
and portraying Francin and Hughes to the great Paul La
Matt's despicable Mickey Hughes.

Speaker 2 (15:45):
I had not heard of him. I didn't bother to
look him up. Who is he? What did he do?

Speaker 1 (15:50):
Oh? He was He was a great actor in the seventies.
He was in a lot of stuff.

Speaker 2 (15:53):
Okay, I didn't recognize him.

Speaker 1 (15:55):
Yeah, you remember Melvin and Howard Jonathan Demmy move about
the true story of the when the guy picked up
Howard Hughes as a hitchhiker. No, he was Melvin and
he was in a lot of stuff, Paulick guy in
the seventies and eighties.

Speaker 2 (16:12):
Okay, I got to see that movie. I've never heard
of that.

Speaker 1 (16:15):
Well, it's not what you think.

Speaker 2 (16:18):
It's not a fun road trip in that tradition of
road trip.

Speaker 1 (16:21):
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 they 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

(16:44):
of the cops and they still didn't arrest him. And
after she killed him, she drove straight to the police
station and confessed.

Speaker 2 (16:52):
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 or said the bedroom fire around him.
So yeah, there was. Yeah, the impact that the book
and then the TV movie had and spreading awareness is
like really hard to overestimate. But it had another really

(17:13):
significant impact too in the courts, because remember we said
that the course 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 gonna do kind
of thing. Right. And this, this case that Francine Hughes

(17:33):
actually went through when she turned herself into the police
and was charged with first degree murder, she got off
just because she used a temporary insanity defense. I think
that that was what it took for a jury to
be like, okay, fine, we'll 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

(17:56):
know about is the physical abuse that happened from time
to time, And yeah, that sucks, but is it enough
to kill a man and she had to use temporary insanity.
And shortly after that, I think because of that case,
a psychologist named Leonora Walker started studying women who had
killed their abusers and found that there were a lot

(18:16):
of similarities between them, and she came up with a
concept called battered Women's 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 abusers
not in the act right then of committing violence against them.

(18:37):
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 Francy Use case.

Speaker 1 (18:52):
Yeah, and she she got off on temporary insanity, but
also may have only gotten off on temporary insanity because
of the credible groundswell of support from you know, obviously
largely women protesting outside the court. I mean, it was
a very well known case and a very big deal,

(19:12):
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 Francy and Hughes. So it was
just sort of one of those moments in time and
history that changed everything because people spoke.

Speaker 2 (19:30):
Up so that the 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
and that it basically says you have to be the
kind of woman who is submissive and passive and your
husband's still beating you up. You're still cooking dinner correctly,
and your husband's still beating you up. It calls for

(19:53):
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,

(20:14):
and the circumstances that have kind of been laid. Is
the groundwork for that reasonable woman to kill her abuser
or reasonable person to kill her abuser was coercive control.

Speaker 1 (20:25):
Yeah, and within that Leonora Walker sort of groundwork that
she laid one of the big things that she focused
on with something called learned helplessness, and that is this
concept that, hey, they have they have learned to be helpless.
They probably didn't go into this relationship or not necessarily
went in to this relationship like that, but through the

(20:47):
tactics of coercive control a KA torture when looked at
in a military setting, they have learned to be helpless
and maybe the only option is to set their back
on fire.

Speaker 2 (21:01):
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 because again, it requires them,
the victim to be perfect white, submissive, middle class typically,
and if you're a black woman culturally speaking in America,

(21:21):
you're viewed is 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 wouldn't put up with much guff,
so you killed the guy who knows it's just that

(21:41):
battered women's syndrome was much more limiting. 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 abuse. Are being killed by the abuse, and that's
a reasonable response to that kind of treatment.

Speaker 1 (22:04):
Yeah, should we.

Speaker 2 (22:05):
Take a break, Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1 (22:08):
All right, we'll be right back with more on coercive control.

(22:38):
All right, So we've been throwing that word around a lot.
That term, rather coercive control, was actually coined by a
guy named Evan Stark, a sociologist, and again it's sort
of trying to highlight the idea that what's going on
is not just physical violence, but really just a deprivation

(22:59):
of freedom, making sure that your partner doesn't have autonomy
by controlling them. And he wrote a book in two
thousand and seven called Coercive Control colin of course, the
Entrapment of Women in Personal Life. Evan Stark has done
some pretty great work. In nineteen seventy nine started getting

(23:21):
into domestic violence work along with his wife, who was
a physician named Anne Flitcraft who worked at Yale New
Haven Hospital and noticed in the seventies that way more
women were coming into the er that had been beaten
up by their partner than the statistics typically had indicated.

(23:46):
I think it was supposedly like one in twenty and
she said it's actually more like one in four.

Speaker 2 (23:52):
Yeah. That was another way that I think society lived
with itself and being complicit in allowing domestic abuse. It
was this pretty rare, and Flickcraft was like, no, twenty
five percent 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

(24:14):
the time and their assertions that this was a big
deal and we need to do something about it and
it's really widespread, Flickcraft'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

(24:35):
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

(24:56):
mistreatment at the hands of their spouse, and that they
kind of followed a pattern, and those patterns really resembled
the coercion that Albert Bitterman had identified back in the fifties.

Speaker 1 (25:10):
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. And again, this is
in the nineteen seventies and early eighties, when you know,
the culture of how you partner and what partners are

(25:32):
responsible for was a lot different than it is now.
So this is in context of back then.

Speaker 2 (25:37):
I mean even ten years ago chuck, Oh.

Speaker 1 (25:39):
Yeah, for sure, But especially in the late seventies and
early eighties, it was as far as coercive control goes,
you know, things again like dinner, are my clothes ready?
Are they iron 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

(26:01):
made and that's thrown on the floor. It's all about,
you know, controlling and manipulating and that threat of physical
violence that is peppered in along the way to you know,
to kind of hold that weight.

Speaker 2 (26:15):
Yeah, and the fact that 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 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

(26:38):
included coercion, like constant criticism and nagging that led to
dehumanization and the humiliation that that having your dinner thrown
on the floor, being made to clean it up and
then recook it creates in the person. This is the
stuff that that Evan Stark really started to tease out
from the Battered Women literature and created like this whole

(27:01):
body 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 flower that was
in the midst of blossoming, and found that that germ
led to actually the foundation that the flower was growing
out of was it the confusing So the women's movement

(27:25):
was making a headway with the Battered Wives Awareness movement. Right,
that's the flower blossoming. And then Evan Start comes along
is looking at that and he notices there's a little
piston or something or stamen can never remember what's what
pist and sure, and that's growing, not a piston, a pistol, right,
and that's growing out of that flower. And that pistol

(27:46):
is the 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 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

(28:08):
to the house. That's just what we witness. 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.

Speaker 1 (28:18):
Yeah, and you know what this all led to is
basically the long and the short was they were saying,
you know, 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, you know, at the time, and
I'm sure this still goes on sometimes, but at the time, like,

(28:39):
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 witness this stuff
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.

(29:02):
The partner doesn't necessarily have to have mental health problems
and lose their children. So in nineteen ninety 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

(29:24):
behalf of these women, saying you can't take their kids away.
There was I believe fifteen women in New York that
had their kids placed in foster care that he testified
for as and one of them actually murdered her abusive husband.
So he was really doing some pretty astounding work.

Speaker 2 (29:40):
Yeah, imagine Chuck, like you have to plead insanity or
temporary insanity so that you don't get the electric chair
of 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 were ended
up being dealt in life.

Speaker 1 (29:58):
Yeah, and I mean, and you know, once they started
diving into the research, they found that sixty to eighty
percent of women who look for assistance because of violence
in the household have experienced coor some of control. So
twenty to forty percent is just physical violence, but up

(30:18):
to eighty percent is like controlling and manipulating their lives,
you know, like they make movies about this stuff. Now.
Don't know how this became a movie plot, but I
feel like I've seen half a dozen movies where there's
some sick o guy that like has detailed instructions written
for their wife to follow to the tea over you know.

(30:42):
I can't think of any of them right now, of course,
but someone just recently.

Speaker 2 (30:45):
I can't think of any either right now.

Speaker 1 (30:47):
Yeah, I've just seen that as a plot line a
lot lately. And that's that's all coercive control. Of course,
in these movies, you know, it's always a great like
sleeping with the enemy, that kind of thing.

Speaker 2 (30:59):
Yeah, but he was a physical abuse or two, oh.

Speaker 1 (31:01):
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
you know, in the end, of course, there's always a
good inning and that guy gets what's coming to him.

Speaker 2 (31:14):
Oh yeah, because.

Speaker 1 (31:15):
It's a movie.

Speaker 2 (31:16):
So as Stark's research kind of gelled and solidified, like
you said, in the eighties, nineties, especially up until I
think two thousand and seven 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,
and there is physical violence that is actually not just

(31:39):
a part of coercive control, but in relationships where the
husband dominates the wife through coercive control, the physical abuse
that the woman suffers is actually worse than other kinds
of couple situations where physical abuse happens. So it's more
frequent and it's worse. But you really want to kind

(32:02):
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 your focus
to include all this other stuff as well.

Speaker 1 (32:16):
Yeah, some of this other stuff, and again it'll sound
a lot like what we detailed with torture in 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.

(32:39):
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, and these days
that goes all the way to like you know, cameras
in different rooms of the house and spywaar in GPA

(33:00):
tracking and stuff like that.

Speaker 2 (33:01):
Yeah, because the more people that your abused spouse interacts with,
the higher the likelihood that 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

(33:22):
that Stark identified. Also, another way to control them is
through restricting their finances, which is another thing that was
up until very recently very culturally supported as well. The
man had the checkbook right, and a lot of a
lot of traditional families, the man had the credit card,
the car was in the man's name, the house was

(33:42):
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 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.

Speaker 1 (34:00):
Well yeah, and also like I have you know, no credit,
no bank account, no no job, no job history, no car.
Sometimes it's really like it's so it's it's such a
limiting thing that the very idea of leaving is scarier
than staying in a and of course this has got

(34:23):
huge air quotes around it, but a stable situation as
far as having a home above your head, right and
and you know, being able to buy groceries and stuff
like that.

Speaker 2 (34:33):
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, will come get you, will
take care of you, will help you get on your feet,
which I think was really well demonstrated in that that
movie or limited series made.

Speaker 1 (34:51):
I never saw that one.

Speaker 2 (34:52):
What is her name?

Speaker 1 (34:55):
Margaret quality.

Speaker 2 (34:56):
Yes, 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
raise the the attention of your abuser. And those sites

(35:17):
actually when you go on to 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. 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

(35:40):
this is like a day to day thing like your sleep,
you're 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 it's
cooked by six on the dot. We're gonna go to
bed at this time, and we're going to have sex

(36:01):
now and you're just going to go along with it.
That's another huge part sexual coersion.

Speaker 1 (36:06):
This 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 wear that. You have to wear what
I say, you have to wear your hair like this,
that kind of thing.

Speaker 2 (36:25):
Yeah, pus. 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. They're coming with me. Like any kind of
threat helps just kind of underpin this sense of control
or helplessness. And so there's another kind of separate thread

(36:46):
of I guess research by a guy named a sociologist
named Michael Johnson who identified the same thing as course
of control. But he said, no, I'm going to call
this intimate terrorism. And he said that there's basically just
different kinds of domestic violence, and course of control is
one of just a few of them.

Speaker 1 (37:04):
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, whether it's you know,
one person hitting the other, both of them kind of
going at it after, you know, usually consuming alcohol. It's

(37:25):
a big component of a lot of this, And especially
in the seventies, all those movies I've talked about, they
were all those guys were all drunks as well, and
that is a result of anger management skills, poor conflict
revolution still terrible, but not coerceive control. And then the
idea of violent resistance, which is the person being beaten

(37:51):
ultimately will 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.

Speaker 2 (38:10):
Right, That's the opposite essentially, or the outcome of coercive control. Sometimes.
I guess that's what Farah Faucea did in the Burning Bed. Yes,
there's also this 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,

(38:31):
coercive control means one partner has power over the other partner.
They can't have equal power over each other or even
like sea sawing power. It 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

(38:52):
for abuse, when really they're responding to being abused. That
doesn't make it mutual. That's a normal, rational response to
being abuse used is to fight back, And I think
that's why people who think it's a myth say it's
a myth.

Speaker 1 (39:06):
Yeah, for sure, course of control versus just sort of
a situational violent episode or episodes. You're more likely if
it's course of 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.

(39:26):
When partners separate, it is actually likely to get worse. Yeah,
that's crazy, which that was the case with the burning bed.
You know, they were divorced, he moved back in and
there were six more years of abuse, but separation is
going to threaten that sense of control, so a lot
of times it will intensify. And that's when stalking behaviors,

(39:48):
you know, pick up obviously if they're not in the
same household anymore, and course of control, the violent episodes
are usually more serious and more frequent, which is what
you alluded to early.

Speaker 2 (40:00):
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.

Speaker 1 (40:07):
All right, let's do it.

Speaker 2 (40:35):
So there's a 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 coerceive control. Another sociologist
named Kristin L. Anderson say yes, that's absolutely how it is.

(40:55):
Some of them may even allow like it does in
very rare instances, happened the opposite 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.

Speaker 1 (41:17):
Yeah, and Livia helped us with this, and she did
something that Lvia 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 seventies
and early eighties or through the eighties, things were different.
Dynamics were different, and women do have more access to

(41:40):
institutional power these days, and the idea of just sort
of 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
very rare for a woman to have the kind of

(42:03):
economic control and financial control in the household. Maybe a
better job, she came into it, more money, she's the
one that owns a house that was just a lot
more rare back then.

Speaker 2 (42:14):
Well. Plus also, Chuck, there's studies that show that even
earning a higher income than your husband not only doesn't
protect you from domestic violence, it actually increases your risk.
There's a twenty twenty one 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 thirty five percent. So yeah, it really

(42:37):
kind of supports the idea that this whole thing is
based on these gender norms of a man dominating a woman.

Speaker 1 (42:45):
Yeah, there's a sociologist named Kristin Anderson in two thousand
and nine rot a paper that kind of supported that.
Basically was like, one of the reasons that men might
engage more in course of control or maybe even exclusively,
is to devalue femininity and to boost up their own
male ego. And in cases where and this isn't way

(43:08):
before like eleven years four 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.

Speaker 2 (43:18):
Yeah. So on the other hand, there are also studies
that say, no, women actually do use coercive 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,

(43:38):
that is not gender specific, and it can go the
other way, according to a twenty twenty two study in
the UK, So it is it depends, I think, on
how nuanced a definition of coercive control you want to give,
whether it's kind of gender specific or not.

Speaker 1 (43:56):
Yeah. In that twenty twenty two 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 course
of control rather than physical abuse, which is a big distinction.

Speaker 2 (44:18):
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, that one can dominate
the other, which also kind of undermines the idea that
it's gender specific.

Speaker 1 (44:31):
Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 2 (44:33):
So there's a big push to say, Okay, we've got
this whole domestic violence battered women's syndrome defense going, let's
you know, 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

(44:55):
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.

Speaker 1 (45:01):
Of fact, Yeah, for sure, there have been some states
that have passed some laws about course of 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

(45:22):
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 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

(45:45):
nothing to do with like BDSM, which can involve dominating
someone very specific instructions and control on you know, sexual
behaviors in the bedroom as a completely different things. And
then what we're talking about here.

Speaker 2 (46:01):
Yeah, because it's willing, there's no coercion involved, even it's
like simulated exactly. Yeah, And Livia cited this California case
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

(46:23):
the dishes to those of the time right exactly. This
guy actually did it to what time she was to
wake up and get out of bed, and every day
at eight thirty 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 the punishments entailed, but that's

(46:43):
how she lived. 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

(47:03):
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 the abuser, or in other cases,
you're gonna arrest both people just to be sure. So

(47:25):
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, course of control is even harder. It's
even squishier to prove or to see your witness, So
it may be even likelier that a victim of abuse
will end up going to jail because their abuser accused

(47:46):
them of doing the abuse.

Speaker 1 (47:49):
Yeah, there was a case in Australia sort of a
you know, a really spot on example of how awful
this can can get when you're you know, coming to
the front door as a police officer and there's something
that's happened there. This woman's name was Tamika Malayley, a

(48:11):
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

(48:31):
or spit at them, and so they arrest her. She
goes into custody and while she was in custody, her
partner kidnapped and killed her baby.

Speaker 2 (48:40):
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 and make it easier for the abuse to be arrested.

(49:06):
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 course of control than
saying like whoa, whoa, we shouldn't do that.

Speaker 1 (49:17):
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, encouraging friends and family
to sort of pay attention to that kind of thing
rather than just like looking for bruises or whatever, or.

Speaker 2 (49:39):
Being like, yeah, husbands get jealous. That's just what husbands do,
and like explaining it away.

Speaker 1 (49:45):
Yeah, providing resources to help people because you know, we
mentioned that, especially with course of control. A lot of
times there are in situations where they they will leave
with nothing, so resources so people feel like they can
leave with nothing and still survive is very very important.

Speaker 2 (50:03):
Yeah, and then improving women's like 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.

Speaker 1 (50:17):
Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 2 (50:18):
So there has been some progress. The Violence Against Women
Act of nineteen ninety four was passed and since then
in domestic violence, non fatal domestic violence in the United
States fell sixty three percent, and intimate partner homicides fell
from twenty two hundred to sixteen hundred and forty for
female victims eleven hundred to seven hundred for male victims.

(50:39):
So there is there is, like you know, progress being made,
but there's still a long long way to go unfortunately.

Speaker 1 (50:48):
Yeah, and to be clear, that is cases of physical violence.
They don't have studies like that on course of control,
which is part of the problem.

Speaker 2 (50:58):
Yep, you got anything else.

Speaker 1 (51:00):
Yeah, you know, we should encourage people. There is a
National Domestic Violence Hotline. It's open twenty four to seven
In English and Spanish, it's one eight hundred. I guess
just eight hundred these days. Chose how old I am
nine seven two three three eight hundred seven nine nine
seven two three three. I can't imagine how hard it

(51:21):
is to make that phone call. But 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.

Speaker 2 (51:41):
Agreed, Chuck, We'll put in thanks for saying that too.

Speaker 1 (51:44):
Yeah, and whatever country you're in most likely has some
sort of hotline, so we can't list them all here,
but please look into that.

Speaker 2 (51:53):
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.

Speaker 1 (52:13):
Gonna call this documentary documentary recommendation for you, my friend.

Speaker 2 (52:19):
Oh, okay, I like that.

Speaker 1 (52:20):
Hey, guys, I've been listening for a long time. Love
what you do. Never really thought i'd every reasoned 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,
and we were just curious about the trash issue and
the whole situation. We'd both been to New York, but

(52:42):
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. 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 dock, he
has followed around on parts of his journey by the documentarian,

(53:04):
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 post,
there's an answer to your curiosity, and that is again.

(53:24):
It's called The World Before Your Feet and that is
from Tia.

Speaker 2 (53:30):
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.

Speaker 1 (53:39):
Pretty cool.

Speaker 2 (53:41):
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
podcast at iHeartRadio dot com.

Speaker 1 (53:56):
Stuff you Should Know is a production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts to my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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