Coparent Academy Podcast

#89 - What do we mean by "domestic violence"?

December 04, 2023 Linda VanValkenburg and Ron Gore
Coparent Academy Podcast
#89 - What do we mean by "domestic violence"?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In episode 2 of our series on domestic violence and coparenting, we define the different forms of domestic violence using the Duluth Power and Control Wheel.

If you would like to participate in our domestic violence series as a guest, please contact us and let us know. We are interested in all perspectives and backgrounds for our conversations.

Thanks for listening!  If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please email us at podcast@coparentacademy.com.  To learn more about becoming the best coparent you can be, visit coparentacademy.com.

Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, today we are doing episode two of our Domestic Violence and Co-Parenting series, and today we want to focus on what is domestic violence. And to help us focus on that, we're going to be looking at the power and control wheel. This is something that we've referenced a few different times in podcasts and in courses, and the power and control wheel is a tool that was put out of Duluth and it originally is a gendered power and control wheel because it was taken from essentially the female perspective. The one that we had from the United Nations website is not gendered. We've got that one, except for using male privilege. It's hard to not gender that one that's pretty inherently gendered. So we'll go through that power and control wheel and we're going to talk about what domestic violence is, and it's important for us to have a common language about what domestic violence is, because we're going to be talking about it in its various forms and we all have to be on the same page, definitely about what we're talking about, and domestic violence is just more, as we said in the past, than just physical or sexual abuse. There's a broad range of things.

Speaker 2:

It just really involves lots of coercive control and sometimes it's extremely subtle and some partners are really good at it and are very manipulative while doing so, and I think, as I told you before we logged on, that I really do think in so many relationships this is a part of it and therefore would trickle down in some way to the relationship that children have with their parents and especially how the two parents co-parent.

Speaker 1:

First, in talking about the power and control wheel, we're just going to start a few. If you have a copy of it, we can put a copy in the link description for the show, and also, if I can figure it out technologically for the video portion, I'll include it on there as well. But, starting clockwise, we're going to talk about using intimidation and so, linda, what are some of the tactics described here for using intimidation?

Speaker 2:

They may even destroy their own property. Or many times they hear about a parent putting their fists through a wall or a door or just hinting that something could be a problem, like you know, snapping a leather belt or displaying a weapon or something like that. But it can be way you know less than that in terms of just embarrassing you or making fun of you in front of your friends or your family.

Speaker 1:

And when I think of intimidation, I think of, like you know, the gorilla beating his chest or you know something else in nature that makes these big displays showing all their colors, making themselves look as big as possible. And you know we're. We are creatures. We're no different human beings. We've evolved and our brains have evolved and we use threat displays as well. And, just like in the animal kingdom, when we use intimidation and threat displays, it's about taking control of the situation and being respected as the one who's the boss, and so this using intimidation is using any way that the person can think of. That would be helpful. That will make the person who's the target respect them as the one who's in charge.

Speaker 2:

You learn to just say sure, go on with. You know and and hopefully everybody's thinking like I am that you know this isn't just toward the other co parent but it can be directed toward what's going on. It's directed toward one of the children or all the children and thereby hurt or scare the co parent you know into feeling like, well, if I'm the buffer, if I keep this person from hurting the child, then you know I can. I can take the fear away from the child if I just take whatever they're dishing out.

Speaker 1:

And so the next category going clockwise is using emotional abuse, and this can be all sorts of things. I mean, this is a really big basket that takes a lot of tactics and puts them in there, so it can be anything from putting the person down, making the person feel bad about themselves, calling the person names. Your traditional gaslighting falls into this basket as well.

Speaker 2:

What are some other things that you feel like you're not anything without them. You can't make decisions that would be wise ones without them. So, pretty much, once again, compliance you need to do everything they tell you to do, because you can't make your own decisions.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, if you can lower that person's self esteem to where they don't feel like they can ever do anything, but then they're going to depend on you.

Speaker 2:

And one of the times this really comes up is if one partner is trying to improve themselves at work or get more education or something like that, and you've got to. You know, share what you're doing with your partner, and your partner will be trying to put you down in order to make themselves feel better.

Speaker 1:

Right, because if you do well and grow and expand, then they're gonna lose some of that control Definitely. You know, it's kind of interesting. It reminds me of the parallels to when we were discussing parental alienation. Yes, and some of the same same tools.

Speaker 2:

Definitely.

Speaker 1:

The alienating parent who is manipulating the alienated child. This is a very similar dynamic, which is why we went through those articles from Colorado State where they were talking about parental alienation as a form of domestic violence, and this is the reason why Alright. Next is and, of course, folks, we are not going into full detail on all of these For the purpose of this podcast. We want to get the concepts out there. You're gonna have access to the wheel so that you can look at it yourself, but we want to make sure we have some of these key ideas out for a set of common definitions so that we can go back to them later. Next on the wheel is using isolation, so controlling what your partner does, who they see and talk to, what they read, where they go, anything that you can do to keep them isolated from others. And, linda, why? Why using isolation? Why is that a good tactic for the abusers?

Speaker 2:

Well, so many times they'll move somebody to you know, out in the boonies or or another state, or you know. Make sure that they have to quit or lose their job so that they don't have any support system around them Family, friends, co-workers, anybody, yeah, just makes them, isolating them from the world, makes them more dependent on you, right. And nobody knows that you're doing that to them if they're not around to hear it, or anything like that.

Speaker 1:

Right. Next is minimizing, denying and blaming, so making light of the abuse, not talking about the other party's concerns, saying nothing happened, shifting responsibility for the abuse of behavior and blaming the other person for your own abusive responses.

Speaker 2:

That's all gaslighting.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, that's part of it as well, right, because it makes you crazy. You think, oh, you know I'm being abused, and the person says I didn't abuse you.

Speaker 2:

And if you feel? Like if you just changed something about yourself, then they would change. That wouldn't happen anymore. They're right, I probably do this or that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, this is so, you know. In another parallel is to cults. I don't know. I was watching with Rebecca. We were watching this Netflix documentary about the mother goddess cult.

Speaker 2:

I don't need to hear about these folks?

Speaker 1:

No, they'd been in Arizona. Then they went out to Hawaii and you're watching, you're like it's so hard to understand how people stay, get wrapped up in cults and then staying cults, and this all is part of the same thing. You know like you just little by little, make concessions to the person in your life and the more ground you seed, the more they keep and control and then you just the next thing becomes easier to agree to and becomes less ridiculous to agree to, and before you know it, you're wrapped up in this whole lifestyle of abuse and you kind of can't remember how you got there. You've been alienated from the people who could help you or gets you out of it, or even be a sounding board for you and you just it just seems like abuse quicksand.

Speaker 2:

Well, I think in those situations too, that's a good analogy, because in those situations you not only have yourself and the controlling person, but you have a host of others who seem to be going along with that control as well, and perhaps some kind of deputies in the controlling, and then you're like, okay, well, they seem to be okay with it, so, I guess, and they're normalizing it for you, you know. And then in a lot of these situations, whether it's an individual partnership or whether it's a group like that, there will be some things that you've agreed to or been physically made to do that you feel like, if I got out of this, then they're going to show the rest of the world what I did.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's like what they do with the next seem.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I was thinking about them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they required people to give collateral.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, and that's why a lot of those women stayed.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah. And also, you know, even you don't have to be an occult. Oftentimes these abusive folks are truly abusive to their spouses. They they cast a broad net and they'll often have family members even family members of the abused person so hoodwinked into thinking that they're a great person that when the person who's being abused reaches out for some help, even their own family member sometimes are saying to them what are you talking about, Right? Like we see your interactions, everything seems fine, right, okay. So next is using children, and we're going to talk about this more when we get into further episodes of this season. But generally, you know, it's not hard to imagine that a person is a person's vulnerability regarding their children is very strong. If you want to get at somebody, you know you get at their relationship with their children, you harm their children, and so you can imagine there's not much better tool to use in this power and control wheel than using children, and this area is one of the key ways in which, from my perspective, women engage in domestic violence and co-parenting relationships is through use of children, because I think women are much more adept and structurally capable of using children in this way than I think men are.

Speaker 2:

Well then, ironically, I've heard quite a few women through the years say that they stayed because he kept threatening that she would never see the child again if she left him.

Speaker 1:

You know women I think abusive men do say that to women quite a bit. It's one of the less, it's one of the least likely threats to come true, because most women would get men are behind the eight ball in custody and visitation situations anyway. Right, but you're right. I mean I've heard this on many occasions from female clients, or one on the Guardian at Lightham that this has been said to them and I think the concept is that he was going to make her look so crazy Because she could never get custody Right and if she's already in that weakened emotional state from the abuse she's taken already, then she could believe that somebody might perceive her to be crazy.

Speaker 2:

And, you know, maybe he or she has gone through a depressed or anxious phase where they needed to take medication, see a psychiatrist even be inpatient for a day or two, and, oh my, it's hard not to believe that that couldn't be used against you.

Speaker 1:

For sure. And then also, you know, a lot of times when the person is the victim of domestic violence, they will. They know they can't say anything face to face because they're going to get physically assaulted. If it's that form of domestic violence they suffer. So they save up all their vitriol and all the things that they wish they could say, all the comebacks they've jumped about saying in their head, and then it all gets let out in text message and then the abuser, if they're really smart, has really soft responses to the flurry of text messages and it is the woman who looks crazy.

Speaker 2:

Yep, or Save that many times.

Speaker 1:

Yep. Or if a person knows that they're going to be physically abused at some point, then they very often will pick a point when that abuse will happen and they'll instigate a fight so that they don't have to wait for the other shoe to drop. They can go ahead and it sounds horrible, but they can go ahead and take their beating and move on, because they know they'll be fine for a few months.

Speaker 2:

I have actually heard people say that today Yep, yep. Well, because in a lot of cases, you do see a very measurable cycle, and so they really do know about when it could possibly happen again.

Speaker 1:

Right and if you know you're within a couple weeks, you think of an outburst and you know that you have something coming up in a couple weeks, you know. You know that your kids are going to be on a school trip and out of town, or there are lots of different reasons why a person may sacrificially Pick a time to have the abuse occur. And it seems counterintuitive, but I know it happens a lot.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it does, unfortunately.

Speaker 1:

All right. The next one is using male privilege, and this one is something that just men do, I think. Definitely Ladies don't do this one. But this is the you know, the old school on the man of the house, on the king of my castle, and you're gonna you know, you're gonna take care of the house and you've got certain female roles that you're gonna fall into and you're gonna do it.

Speaker 2:

And it's Just something that, or it isn't just something that could be in a heterosexual relationship, because I've done a lot of Relationship counseling with gay and lesbian clients and I could tell you it happens in those relationships as well.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, because I guess it's not so much about gender as it is about perceived dominant.

Speaker 2:

Whoever thinks they're in that role and has the desire to dominate the other, this is what they'll do and many times it also falls along the lines of Whoever earns more money, or if one is working and the other one is not.

Speaker 1:

Right, and that's the big shift that's gonna happen too, because, you know, women are much more likely to be in College programs to have postgraduate degrees nowadays than men, and so that's a sea change that we're really gonna be experiencing in the next generation. It is so it'll be interesting to see.

Speaker 2:

I just heard some recent.

Speaker 1:

Yeah for sure. Okay. Next is using economic abuse and this kind of ties them with some of the other things we've talked about as well. But again you're alienating the person. So you are preventing them from getting or keeping a job, making them ask for money, giving them an allowance. This one gets kind of complicated because this one can be kind of hard to distinguish from just how healthy couples arrange things. You know, because sometimes I know healthy couples who you know. They know that one person is not very good at dealing with the money. The bills are never gonna be paid if they're in charge and they want to be given Sort of an allowance to make sure that they stay within their budgets. I know they won't otherwise.

Speaker 2:

So I guess the difference is They've agreed and asked for that to be the case, as opposed to being imposed on them without their any control or input or I Would say too it's say, you agreed on a hundred dollars at the grocery store, but if you spend a hundred and five Do are you afraid to go home?

Speaker 1:

Right, right, exactly. And there's also those situations where I've seen the men. I haven't seen, I Don't know that. I've seen a woman do this. I've seen men Say that the woman is in charge of the budget but then they'll spend money on whatever they want to spend money on. Oh, totally. And then they get mad at the woman for Not staying within the budget right when she had no chance to, because of the guy's spending. And it seems it's kind of like a way for the guy to absolve himself of any responsibility regarding his immature spending habits and gets to just blame her for, for all of it or in a lot of relationships, male or female, it could be making the most money or paying the most of the household bills, you know, making the mortgage payment, the utility payments, etc.

Speaker 2:

And then the other one working Gets to spend all their money they made on themselves.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. And I've seen that happen a lot, because usually the person who's making the money just was like look, I just want to be able to know for sure what I have, and that you know the bills are going to be taken care of, and I want you to be able to spend money on things, but you know you'll just use the money that you earn and then that happens to be sort of mission creep and then I haven't I haven't yet seen that wind up long term with anything but a bit of resentment. I'm not sure it's a great strategy.

Speaker 2:

And I've heard about it in many cases from the person who is making the most of the payments.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, a lot of roads lead to resentment. If you don't talk about things, I think periodically Right Next on. I'm sorry.

Speaker 2:

Because I wanted the things to that I've seen under this and probably under intimidation, would be, you know, making sure that somebody and this was this was in the day before we had the 360, life, 360 or whatever, where you can see where somebody is, you know, are they really worried? They said they were going and the abusive spouse would literally track the mileage on every trip that the other spouse did in the car.

Speaker 1:

So, whether or not, that's a lot of commitment.

Speaker 2:

Well, exactly, but the act of it sounds very time consuming. Yes, but it says us who haven't done this. But the very act of going out to the car to track keeps you doing what you were supposed to do and not stopping anywhere in between.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, and that life 360, it can easily switch into stalker 360. It's another one. I mean I get it as a parent of a kid when getting a driver's license. I get wanting to know where they were. He was at the time, but, yeah, you got to be careful, all right. Next, using coercion and threats. So making or carrying out threats to do something going to harm the person, threatening to leave the person to commit suicide, to report the person to you know, DHS or something making the person drop charges, making them do something illegal. So the threats to commit suicide are those, are the ones that you see them sometimes, and it just it really provokes a response. I think it's just such a guttural, guttural thing and it's effective. I think that's why they do it.

Speaker 2:

Right, I see that have over the years with younger people you know, like college age, high school or college age that are very susceptible to those kind of threats from their partner that you know they don't understand. What else goes along with that? Also, I would put someone who physically restrains you and keeps you from leaving when you want to leave, during a fight, or just the opposite, kicks you out of a vehicle on a highway, that kind of thing to teach you a lesson.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I've seen that a lot as well. Okay, well, so that was just a quick sort of trip around the the Luth power and control wheel. Like I said, we're just want to touch on this quickly. You give me the link so that you can see the power and control wheel yourself. I encourage you to take a look at it. One thing to kind of keep in mind about this power and control wheel is that a lot of these tactics remind me of something I read by CS Lewis once where he was talking about how lots of sins are just virtues that have been taken to excess. And some of these behaviors on this parent control wheel in a loving, caring relationship not taken to excess, can be part of a loving relationship. I know it's hard to understand, I think, what I'm saying right now, but let's say that you encourage the person. They don't want to get a job, they want to stay home and raise the kids. You encourage the person to stay home and raise your children. That's different from preventing the person from getting or keeping a job, but you may have encouraged the person to do that. You know you may. The person may have wanted to get your budget on track, so they said, hey, let's both get on a budget. But, like Linda said, the difference is we're both agreed on a budget versus am I afraid to go home if I went over the budget? Or you know, maybe the person says I'm really not good in social situations. If you know, when I go to see, when we go to see my parents, they sometimes they make me not feel good about myself. So if you could maybe stick up for me or have my back and you take that too far and you wind up controlling the interaction or saying something that's embarrassing. I mean, there are just so many of these things that can have a root and healthy relationships in positive, caring, supportive interactions. But then once you put the intent to manipulate or control and you blow it out of any sort of reasonable scale, you're in this region of power and control, and so that's why it's sometimes hard to tell from the outside whether it's abuse or whether it is consensual, loving behavior that the people within the relationship understand and want. Linda, I know that was all over the place, but does that make sense?

Speaker 2:

Totally.

Speaker 1:

You know.

Speaker 2:

one of my favorites is, let's say, when you leave the house male or female you tell your partner I'm headed to the store, or I'm going to pick up the cleaning or whatever it is you know, or I've got three or four errands to run, or you text them that just so that if you fall in a hole somewhere, don't know where to start looking, they might be a target, you know. And so that's way different than if somebody is logging your mileage or, you know, is going to scream at you because you spent too long doing that, or something like that.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, and some things. Like I was watching you know, rebecca and I send those Instagram reels to each other and I saw one this morning where the woman was upset because she went on her husband's computer and she found a folder called my documents and she's like, well, why isn't it our documents? Don't she love me? Why isn't it? And it's just, you know, it just made me laugh, but that's an example of I mean, it's silly, is a silly little example, but sometimes you get so wrapped up in the person that them having any sort of individuation from you can make you upset and it's sort of it's a progression to where it was cute until now, it's controlling, right, and sometimes that just growth over time creeps up on you and that's kind of like that example of when you get yourself into a cult. Oh, I thought, oh, he used to do this for me and I thought it was so cute, but now he won't let me do anything else, right? Well, let it happen otherwise. And so I think that's that's part of how it can be really difficult from the outside, ex post, for professionals to look into a relationship and to be certain that it was abuse, exactly. And that's something that we're going to get into in the next episode. The next episode we're going to talk about domestic violence and co-parenting, and then the episode after that we're going to talk about the effects of domestic violence on children, and then we're going to continue on down the line in the series. But thank you for joining us today for this definition of an additional episode. Hopefully it wasn't too boring as we just went through the list, but we will be back next week with more in this series.

Speaker 2:

Bye.

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