Sunday, October 07, 2007

Coercive Control cont.

Hugo Schwyzer quotes from Coercive Control,
    Because women have such ready access to rights and resources in liberal democratic societies, it is widely assumed that if abusive relationships endure, it is because women choose to stay, a decision that seems counterintuitive for a reasonable person. The logical explanation is that women who make this choice are deficient psychologically or in some other respect. Yet researchers have failed to discover any psychological or background traits that predispose any substantial group of women to enter or remain in abusive relationships. Battered women do suffer disproportionately from a range of psychological and behavioral problems, including some, like substance abuse and depression, that increase their dependence and vulnerability to abuse and control. As we will see momentarily, however, these problems only become disproportionate in the context of ongoing abuse and so cannot be its cause
Read the rest of his post. Incredibly a complementarian actually wrote the following to me very recently.

    When women stay in abusive situations, the reason is most likely psychological, not religious. For example, low self-esteem or fear of being alone.
Stark continues,
    In fact, around 80% of battered women in intact couples leave the abusive man at least once. These separations appear to decrease the frequency of abuse, but not the probability that it will recur. Indeed, the risk of severe or fatal injury increases with separation. Almost half the males on death row for domestic homicide killed in retaliation for a wife or lover leaving them. As we’ve also seen, a majority of partner assaults occur while partners are separated. So common is what legal scholar Martha Mahoney calls “separation assault” that women who are separated are 3 times more likely to be victimized than divorced women and 25 times more likely to be hurt than married women.
This information needs to be combined with the information from Lundy Bancroft that male entitlement is part of the abuse picture.

In the comment zone of Schwyzer's post Richard adds quotes from Judith Lewis Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery” (1992),

    So far, I haven’t read anything about the book that indicates that it’s truly groundbreaking. On another site, in fact, Evan Stark stated, “Others have said some of this before. But I think you’ll find, when you read the book, that it hasn’t been put together in this way before.”

    Indeed, the use of the phrase “coercive control” in the context of domestic violence prevention and intervention goes back at least as far as Judith Lewis Herman’s book “Trauma and Recovery” (1992). In the chapter simply titled “Captivity,” she wrote, “Prolonged, repeated trauma, by contrast, occurs only in circumstances of captivity. When the victim is free to escape, she will not be abused a second time; repeated trauma occurs only when the victim is a prisoner, unable to flee, and under the control of the perpetrator.”

    Herman added, “Political captivity is generally recognized, whereas the domestic captivity of women and children is often unseen.”

    Finally, she noted, “Captivity, which brings the victim into prolonged contact with the perpetrator, creates a special type of relationship, one of coercive control. This is equally true whether the victim is taken captive entirely by force, as in the case of prisoners and hostages, or by a combination of force, intimidation, and enticement, as in the case of religious cult members, battered women, and abused children. The psychological impact of subordination to coercive control may have many common features, whether that subordination occurs within the public sphere of politics or within the private sphere of sexual and domestic relations… In situations of captivity, the perpetrator becomes the most powerful person in the life of the victim…”

    Thus, I’m looking into how Stark’s concept of “coercive control” is substantially different from Herman’s? In what way, if any, does his work even rely or build on Herman’s (and “others”)?

    I’m also intrigued by Stark’s suggestion that “coercive control” should be considered a “liberty” crime, since it is “designed to take away women’s freedom, autonomy, and dignity.”

    That is true, of course. But, in most societies, it’s not just a man, one man, that cripples and crushes a woman’s, one woman’s, capacity to make choices and act on them. Instead, an abused woman is also made unfree by “manhood” often as it has been socially constructed within the context of a still-patriarchal society.

    “In other words,” as wrote Nancy J. Hirschmann in a Frontiers article titled “Domestic Violence and the Theoretical Discourse of Freedom” (1996), “the ultimate barrier to women’s freedom is patriarchy, or the social, legal, and economic control that men are accorded over women; all other particular and specific barriers that individual women experience at any given time or place, in any given relationship, in any given experiential moment, can be understood only in this larger repressive context. Accordingly, battered women’s freedom is restricted by men’s violence and the sexist values that underpin and perpetuate it.

    Women’s freedom requires that this violence and its ideological supports be ended. As long as society does not recognize and support that goal, however, it is up to individual women to manage and cope in the best way they can. When looked at from this perspective, what may appear to be complicity, internalization of abuse, or even masochism may in reality be a form of resistance, management, or just plain survival…. But that does not mean she does not feel fear, that she wants or enjoys the beatings, or that she is free.”

    I wonder, of course, whether Stark also indicts patriarchy in his book and, if so, also makes recommendations for finally bringing it to justice.

    It has been widely known and discussed for decades now that batterers “develop an obsession when the victims try to leave” and “intensify physical violence and threats of homicide and suicide” (see, e.g., Subadra Marharja’s brief survey of research online titled “Violence in Marriage: Why Do Women Stay” [ca. 2000]). “Community response,” adds Marharja, “has been a major deterrent for many women to leave abusive relationships,” with the protective and legal systems being “largely responsible.”

    Therefore, what I hope Stark does is offer clear and compelling advice on how DV preventionists and interventionists can put way more of their money and long-term resources where their collective mouth is to further ensure that no abused woman is LEFT behind.

Here is another powerful post. Stark's book generated a lot of discussion which I missed until now. Here is the conclusion,
    Of course, ultimately the only way to really eradicate domestic violence is to eradicate inequality between men and women. I firmly believe that oppressive violence is just a manifestation of oppression itself, and just one of many tools that a dominant class uses to keep an oppressed class under the boot. Note, I’m not saying that all intimate violence everywhere will disappear; there’s always going to be control freaks who flip out when they feel that their sexual partners are retaliating against their control. But the majority of male-on-female domestic violence comes from the fact that men have been socially conditioned to feel entitled to control over and subservience from women, and when they don’t get it, many of them flip out. Until that sense of entitlement is eradicated, we’re going to see this problem persist.
There it is again. Male entitlement must be eradicated. It is time that Christians face this reality.

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