Coercive Control – Women being labled ‘the problem’…

“Because abuse is typically “ongoing,” victims seek help repeatedly. Given the assumption that

victims and offenders can exercise decisional autonomy ‘between’ episodes, however, service providers

stigmatize persistent help-seekers. They attribute victims’ apparent inability to ‘leave’ to character deficits

and consider their escalating expressions of fear exaggerated, fabricated or as the byproduct of mental

illness. Thus, many abused women appear in family court, child welfare or health systems carrying

pseudo-psychiatric labels that imply they are the problem, not the abuser. As a victim’s entrapment

becomes more comprehensive, the service response may actually become more perfunctory, a process

termed “normalization.” It seems inevitable that women of this “type” will continue to be abused.”

By Evan Stark , Ph.D, MSW

Professor, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration

‘Being beaten for Nothing’…

Complementing material control is the micro-regulation of women’s behavior in everyday life.

While micro-management often extends to the most trivial activities (such as what women watch on TV or

which internet sites they visit), its main targets are women’s default responsibilities for housework, child

care and providing sexual pleasure. Abusive men regulate how women emote, dress, wear their hair,

clean, cook and discipline their children. Rules given to women have extended to how the carpet was to

be vacuumed (“till you can see the lines”) and the height of the bedspread off the floor to the heat of the

water in the bath drawn each night for a husband. Here, too, there is the relationship between the

pettiness of the rules perpetrators impose and the shame associated with compliance. Since the only

purpose of the rules is to exact obedience, they are continually being revised. As Mrsevic and Hughes

(l997, P. 123) put it, “As men’s control over women increases, the infractions against men’s wishes get

smaller, until women feel as if they are being beaten for ’nothing.’”

Re-presenting Battered Women: Coercive Control and the Defense of Liberty *

By Evan Stark , Ph.D, MSW

Professor, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration

The Materiality of Abuse…

”The “materiality of abuse” is rooted in a partner’s control over basic necessities such as money,

food, housing and transportation, sex, sleep, toileting and access to health care. Seventy-nine percent of

the Refuge UK sample (Rees et al. 2006) and 58% of Tolman’s (l989) U.S. sample were denied access to

money or had it taken from them through threats, violence or theft. Conversely, 54% of the men charged

with assaulting their partners acknowledged they had taken their partner’s money (Buzawa & Hotaling,

2003). Financial exploitation extends from denying victims credit cards or money for necessities to forcing

them to account for and justify even small expenses.”

Re-presenting Battered Women: Coercive Control and the Defense of Liberty *

By Evan Stark , Ph.D, MSW

Professor, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration

Coercive Control – Defined…

” The coercive control model was developed to encompass the ongoing and multifaceted nature of the abuse which research shows is experienced by the 60% to 80% of victimized women who seek outside assistance from shelters, police or other sources of assistance. Coercive control may be defined as an ongoing pattern of domination by which male abusive partners primarily interweave repeated physical and sexual violence with intimidation, sexual degradation, isolation and control. The primary outcome of coercive control is a condition of entrapment that can be hostage-like in the harms it inflicts on dignity, liberty, autonomy and personhood as well as to physical and psychological integrity.”

By Evan Stark , Ph.D, MSW

Professor, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration

Coercive Control – Why didn’t you leave?

” Coercive Control targets a victim’s autonomy, equality, liberty , social supports and dignity in ways that compromise the capacity for independent , self interested decision making vital to escape and effective resistance to abuse.”

By Evan Stark , Ph.D, MSW

Professor, Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration

Coercive Control

Over the next few days I will be sharing an insight into the model of coercive control as written about by Evan Stark – following on from my last blog post ‘Why didn’t you say something’. He helps to explain the systematic use of control in abusive relationships and how a growing body of research shows that  coercive control or ‘Psychological or emotional abuse’ is  what drives most abused women to seek outside assistance not physical violence.

To receive copy of the full publication please contact me (Polly):

WRITE TO: thewomensvoicesproject@gmail.com

Re-presenting Battered Women: Coercive Control and the Defense of Liberty *

By Evan Stark , Ph.D, MSW

*Prepared for Violence Against Women : Complex Realities and New Issues in a Changing World, Les

Presses de l’Université du Québec (2012)

‘Why didn’t you say something’

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“Why didn’t you say something,” they’d ask, looking concerned and confused.  “I could have helped you. I could have done something!” – This artical highlights the importance of standing in somebody else’s shoes before you let the all too often comments like this slip out and gives practical ways of supporting someone in leaving an abusive relationship.

See more at:

http://www.damemagazine.com/2014/10/29/why-i-didnt-tell-you-he-was-beating-me

We would really like to know your story, what was/is your experience of  friends, family and even strangers asking  ‘the obvious’ when actually they couldn’t have been more wrong – Comment on this post or select from our contacts page.