The King of the Castle

We’ve probably all triumphantly stood on some sort of raised platform (a wall, park bench, bollard etc) and triumphantly proclaimed ‘I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal’ to the people around us. We were probably about 5 or 6 years old at the time. Most adults don’t need to consistently lord it over others by giving themselves false superiority. However, there are some adults which do need to do this, and you can commonly find them as the persona of ‘King of the Castle’. This month we’re continuing our series of posts on the Dominator by looking at this persona which needs to be at the top of the pyramid.

How does a King of the Castle gain and maintain power and control over their victim?

A King of the Castle uses male privilege to make his victim feel subservient. The saying an Englishman’s home is his castle and so it is in the home little by little, over time, our abuser will manipulate his victim into servitude. Here are some of the tactics a King of the Castle might use:

  • Treats you as a servant/slave. It may start with him asking if he can wash some clothes at yours. He then needs specific instructions on how to use the machine. He might ‘accidentally’ slip a red sock into the white wash. Soon it is far easier for you to do it yourself. You ask him to clear up after dinner. He complains, he exclaims how dirty things are, he expects recognition, thanks and congratulations for his efforts, he does a sub-standard job. Soon it is far easier for you to do it yourself. Whatever the household chore, the pattern repeats itself. It then gets to the stage where your role is to serve him in whatever way the King of the Castle wishes around the house. It’s your responsibility to make sure food is on the table, the house is clean and his shirts ironed – whether or not he works himself. This expectation will extend to any girls in the house – they will be expected to wait on the abuser and any brothers they may have.
  • Says women are for sex, cooking and housework. The King of the Castle reinforces the stereotype that a women’s place is in the home. She is too stupid and low of status to have a job or pursue her education. He persuades the victim she is needed in the home. That he needs her in the home.
  • Expects sex on demand. Because the King of the Castle believes that a woman’s primary purpose in life is to fulfill the needs of men, he therefore sees it as his right to have sex with his victim whenever he wants. Sharing similar beliefs and attitudes with The Sexual Controller (see previous article), the King of the Castle sees women as objects and not as people.
  • Controls all the money. The King of the Castle will want to have control over all the finances of the household. Whether earned income, savings or benefits. It is likely they will not allow their victim access to bank accounts or any means of getting money apart from what they give them. The King of the Castle may give their victim an allowance, but this will be barely enough to cover the weekly shop and things needed for the children. She is forced into begging her abuser for more money, which he will use to his advantage and to make her feel small.

 

What to do if you’re living with a King of the Castle

If you’re living with a King of the Castle then please know there is a way for you to escape. You do not have to continue living as a slave to someone else. You have so much more value and worth than your abuser would have you believe. As we state in each of these articles, each abusive relationship is so unique it would be irresponsible to write our ‘top tips for dealing with Kings of the Castle’ in this article. Instead our advice is to please visit one of our One Stop Shop or Drop In services where one of our experienced and friendly team members will listen to your story and work with you to stay safe and, if you want to, become free from the abusive relationship. In the mean time, here are a few tips for staying safe with a King of the Castle:

  • Do some research. Read about male privilege and how it oppresses women. Question why so many adverts for cleaning products are directed at women. Read about women who have done amazing things outside of the home. Because the King of the Castle’s power is found in making you believe as a woman you aren’t capable or worth doing anything other than serving him. Once you start believing differently, you will believe you can break free.
  • If you can, make copies of information to do with all your finances so that if you do decide to break free, you are more able to access money (of get the courts to help to access money) once you do.
  • If it’s not too late, set up a secret bank account and have any money he doesn’t already know about go into it. Ask a friend or family member for all correspondence to go to their address.
  • It may not be safe to simply stop doing things around the house until you have worked with a professional to devise a safety plan. You don’t want him to be suspicious you are planning to leave him, or you don’t want him to escalate his abuse in order to get his way.
  • If you are at the very early stages of a relationship then you can nip this behaviour in the bud by not falling for his claims of incompetence or his requests for glory over the simplest of tasks. It’s a ‘give an inch and he takes a mile’ kind of scenario. To be honest, if he is a King of the Castle and you resist, it might mean the end of the relationship – but if it does you can definitely consider it as having been saved from something worse.
  • If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.

 

If you are living with a King of the Castle then please believe you were made for more than this. Come and get help from SATEDA and we will help you on your journey toward freedom and discover of what more is waiting for you.

 

The Sexual Controller

This month’s blog post continues our series on The Dominator where we are looking at the various personas and tactics an abuser might use to maintain power and control over their victim. We have looked at The Bully, The Jailer and The Headworker, this month we are looking at The Sexual Controller. There’s no real way to sugar-coat or soften the blow with this one rape and sexual violence isn’t only found perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys, paedophiles and on college campuses, but it is also found in relationships.

For centuries, as well as a way of two consenting adults expressing their love for one another, sex has been used as currency and a weapon. Women are made to feel they are made solely to be objects of desire and therefore their status rises and falls depending on who wants to have sex with them. Armies historically rape and pillage the land they are invading to degrade and disempower the indigenous people. Women have been told to ‘lie back and think of England’ when facing their husband’s unwanted advances and to have sex with your husband is to do your duty.

Some of these examples may seem archaic and hopefully western society has moved on from this. However, the prevalence of porn, page three and music videos featuring male singers surrounded by scantily clad women continue to reinforce the message a woman’s primary worth and purpose is found in providing sexual gratification for men.

How does a Sexual Controller maintain power and control over their victim?

A Sexual Controller uses sex in a way which emotionally manipulates, degrades, devalues, harms, scares and traps their victim. The tactics a Sexual Controller might use include:

  • Sex without consent. Whether it’s to your husband or a stranger at a party, everyone has the right to say ‘no’ to sex. In 1991 rape within marriage became a crime and now it is illegal for a husband to have sex with their wife if she does not consent. At SATEDA we speak with lots of women who are repeatedly forced to have sex by their husbands, but were unaware this was rape. When an abuser rapes their victim they are asserting their power and control, making their victim feel powerless and degraded and are physically hurting their victim. All of which serves to make them more compliant in the future. Furthermore, after a violent act or rape an abuser may claim they are sorry, pin the blame on the victim and then initiate an act of tender love making which serves to emotionally confuse and manipulate the victim.
  • Won’t take no for an answer. A Sexual Controller can force their partner to have sex with them without using physical force. They may threaten to do something if they can’t have sex, they may pester consistently until they get their way, they may tell the victim they need to do their duty/make them feel guilty, they claim it’s a medical necessity, they intimidate, bribe and threaten to go elsewhere. Eventually the victim co-operates in order to prevent further harm or distress to themselves, their children or wider circle. This may look like consensual sex, but it’s not. Anyone agreeing to do something under duress isn’t giving real consent.
  • Harmful sex. A Sexual Controller may make their victim take part in sex acts that they don’t want to or are physically painful. They make them have sex with other people, or in front of other people. They may make them watch porn and then recreate what they have seen. All of these things degrade and destroy a victims sense of self worth, value and esteem, reinforcing their only role and value is as a piece of meat.
  • Keeps you pregnant. A Sexual Controller may keep their victims consistently pregnant. Pregnant women, or women with children are more likely to stay with their partner either due to financial/housing security, or because of the guilt they would be made to feel if they were the ones to ‘break up’ the family.
  • Rejects your advances. On the flip side, a Sexual Controller may reject their victim’s advances to have sex. They will say that they are unattractive, claim no one would ever want to have sex with them or call them names.
  • If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.

What to do if you’re living with a Sexual Controller

If you’re living with a Sexual Controller we would like you to know you are so much more than an object.  We want you to know sex within a relationship should be about both people being made to feel good, safe and satisfied by the other and anything less than this is not ok. We also want you to know the abuse you suffer is never your fault and it is never up to you to get your partner to change because they probably wont. As with all the articles in this blog series we aren’t going to tell you here how to become free from a Sexual Controller because each situation is unique. Instead we would like to invite you to come to one of our Drop In or One Stop Shop Services for some friendly advice, where we can create a safety plan for your and offer you other types of ongoing support if you want it. Alternatively you can contact us here if you can’t make one of the drop ins.

In the mean time, here are some suggestions how to keep yourself as safe as possible with a Sexual Controller:

  • If it means stopping your abuser from causing you even more serious physical violence, or threatening your life, then it might be safer for you to ‘give in’ to their desire for sexual activity. This does not mean you have given consent or you have given up. You simply made a choice to protect your immediate safety, which is survival, not consent.
  • If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your GP has to treat all information confidentially and you cannot be forced to report anything to the police. By going to your GP it will mean there are records of the assault(s) if you ever did decide to press charges.
  • Consider going to the police to report rape and sexual assault. Even if you do not press charges at the moment, it can be helpful for incidents to be logged for future use.
  • Talk to your GP about the best way of protecting yourself against pregnancy and STIs. There are some ways of doing this without your abuser having to know.
  • Where and if possible, avoid being alone with your partner, particularly in rooms where sex often takes place.
  • If possible, sleep in a separate bedroom with a lock on the door.
  • If you don’t live together, arrange for someone else to be in the house when they come round, visit them with a friend, or meet up in public places.
  • Look after your emotional wellbeing and consider talking to someone about the abuse. Whether that’s someone you know, or by talking to a counsellor, GP or helpline such as the Rape Crisis national freephone helpline on 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year), talking to someone could really help.
  • If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.

The important thing to remember is you have a right to choose whether or not to have sex with someone. You have a right to live a life in which you valued by someone because of who you are not what you do for them. You have a right to freedom. If you are living with a Sexual Controller please consider making the first step towards that freedom today.

The Headworker

It’s not revolutionary to point out that we all have hundreds of different voices in our heads vying for attention. TV ads, billboards, magazines, Facebook, Twitter, the radio, branded clothing, food packaging, instagram (the list goes on) are all trying to get us to think in a certain way. Whether it’s the cosmetics company telling us we need to make our eyelashes look longer, or our Facebook feed telling us our life isn’t as fun/successful/creative/neat/perfect as everyone elses – there are lots of voices to filter through. But for some people, the voice that is louder than everything else and the voice that starts to feel like it’s your own is that of their abuser.

Continuing our series on the Dominator, the persona that we are featuring in this article is The Headworker. This persona is one that gets into your head, to manipulate the way you think, feel and therefore act.

How does a Headworker gain and maintain power and control over their victim?

The Headworker uses emotional abuse to make their victim feel worthless and stupid. They make their victim feel so worthless and stupid that they don’t believe that they could survive without them or that they would ever find anyone else that would want to be in a relationship with them.

Some of the tactics that the Headworker uses include:

  • Puts you down. The Headworker loves to use humour to make their victim feel bad. They make jokes at the victims expense and will exclaim ‘Can’t you take a joke?!’ if they complain. They will make jokes about you or criticize you infront of friends and family in order to shame and embarrass you. They will make sexist jokes (for example about female drivers, or a women’s role being in the kitchen) to undermine your abilities and talents. They may have a nickname for you that is demeaning that they claim to be a term of endearment. They may just never use your name but call you things like ‘babe’, ‘princess’ or ‘woman’. They may call you offensive names and belittle our worth.
  • Tells you you’re too fat, too thin, ugly etc. The Headworker wants to make their victim feel worthless and unattractive. They will tell their victim that they are fat and ugly so often that the even the thinnest person will start to believe it to be true. They will do this even when their victims are pregnant. They will make their victim feel sexually repulsive, especially when compared to other women on the TV or that they know. Each time that person comes on the TV, they will use to remind you that you aren’t as attractive as them.
  • Makes you think you’re going mad. Moving or hiding objects, denying having said something, changing goal posts and telling us we are saying things in our sleep are ways that the Headworker will make you doubt your own sanity and reliability. He will say that you are upset because of PMS or because you are clinically depressed.
  • Turn agencies against you. The Headworker will discredit you to other agencies such as the police, social services, the doctor etc in order to prevent you from presenting as a victim of abuse. He will manipulate situations to try and make you appear mentally ill to them in order to have a better chance of getting custody over the children or keeping the house. For example The abuser says to his wife “Quick! Call the police there are burglars in the attic!” She does so and when the police come he asks them who called them and apologises on her behalf. “Sorry, she is always doing things like this.” *

The Headworker gets inside your head until their voice is the loudest and through repetition, volume and lack of alternative, you start to believe the narrative they are presenting you with.

What to do if you’re living with a Headworker

If you’re living with a Headworker then please know that the things they say to you are not true. You are not stupid, ugly or worthless. You deserve better and can have better. As we state in each of these articles, the dynamic between each abuser and their victim is unique and so it would be irresponsible to write our ‘top tips for dealing with headworkers’ in this article. Instead our advice is to please visit one of our One Stop Shop or Drop In services where one of our experienced and friendly team members will listen to your story and work with you to stay safe and, if you want to, become free from the abusive relationship. In the mean time, here are a few tips for staying safe with a Headworker:

  • Until you have worked with a professional to create a plan for how to leave the relationship safely, avoid letting them know you are thinking of doing this. Any signs of you taking back control may cause the abuser to escalate their methods of power and control.
  • Each time your abuser puts you down, ask yourself if what they say is true, or whether they are just saying it to gain control over you. Ask yourself what evidence they have for what they have said. Tell yourself that what they have said is a lie and then tell yourself the truth (which is probably the opposite).
  • Find some positive voices to listen to. What do the people that truly love and care for you say about you? If there are other people in your life that say the same thing as your abuser, then it’s probably time to stop listening to them.
  • Try and do some things that make you feel good about yourself.
  • Try and avoid communicating with agencies on behalf of your abuser as you can’t trust them to confirm that what you said is what they asked you to say. Try and have meetings with your doctor or social worker etc without your abuser present.
  • If your abuser is trying to make you feel or appear mentally unwell, start documenting things to show the reality of a situation.
  • If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.

Lots of us long for rest-bite from the modern world and all it’s demands. We all need space and time where our mind isn’t bombarded with text messages, media feeds and phone calls. If you’re living with a Headworker then you need some rest-bite from the voice of your abuser and some peace from the poison that they feed into your ear. Contact us today and let us help you find your own voice again.

 

*Example taken from the Freedom Programme facilitator handbook

The Jailer

The Jailer:

Jail-break stories seem to have a timeless appeal. Whether it’s The Great Escape, Shawshank Redemption, Chicken Run or Prison Break – something in us loves to root for people as they break free from their cells. No matter whether their incarceration was justified or not, we always believe in the inmate’s fight for freedom. Despite the fact they are just doing their job and keeping civilians safe, we always hate the guards who keep the inmate captive and work against their escape.

This article is continuing our ‘Dominator’ series on the various aspects of domestic abuse by looking at the persona of ‘The Jailer’. Abusers who assume this persona are like the corrupt prison officers we love to hate in films – they are power mad, destructive, manipulative and hell-bent on taking away their prisoners liberty. The main difference is their ‘prisoner’ is not a convicted criminal enduring just punishment, but an innocent victim of abuse.

 How does a jailer gain and maintain power and control over their victim?

A jailer uses isolation to control their victim. A jailer will be vigilant in checking mileage on cars, bank statements and your phone. They will tell lies, manipulate and deliberately sabotage things to keep you isolated. Some of the tactics a jailer may use are:

  • Stops you from working and seeing friends: having a job and relationships with people promotes independence. You don’t have to rely on someone financially or relationally if you have other options. Working and having friends maintains confidence, self-esteem and individuality as well as broadening your horizons. Interaction with and exposure to others enables you to measure your own experiences against the norm in order to see the truth of them. All of these things work against the Jailer’s objective of keeping their victim wholly dependent and submissive to them. The last thing they want is for you to have your own money or for you to have friends to turn to or who encourage you in your worth as a human being. It’s better for your jailer for you to have nowhere to turn and no belief in your ability to survive without them. The Jailer may prevent you from working by convincing you to let him take care of you, by wearing down your self-esteem or by causing you to loose your job. They may prevent you from seeing friends by outright banning it, or more subtly by causing division, manufacturing conflict or being so unpleasant that no-one wants to come round.
  • Tells you what to wear. One Jailer might insist his victim stays in tracksuit bottoms and baggy jumpers – stating he doesn’t trust his victim to not have sex with other men if they look attractive, or even that they simply aren’t attractive so they don’t deserve to wear nice clothes. Another Jailer might insist his victim wears provocative or revealing clothes, to make them exposed, vulnerable and only good for one thing. Whatever the clothing requirements, this tactic is used as another way to take away the freedom and liberty of the victim. Just as prison inmates have to wear standard-issue clothing to remind them that they are at the bottom of the chain and have no access to rights and individuality, the Jailer enforces their own dress code to the same affect.
  • Keeps you in the house. This is quite literally imprisonment, which could be enforced both physically or psychologically. A Jailor may lock their victims in the house or hide car keys to physically keep someone in the house. Or they may make their victim so afraid that they stay put when told to do so, or they may make them feel that the only place they are safe is in the house. Or they may refuse to look after your children so you have to stay at home with them. A Jailer knows that their jurisdiction can’t extend everywhere, so they make their victim stay in the place where they wield the most power.
  • Seduces your friends/family. To everyone else the Jailer can appear to be Mr Charming. He is friendly, funny and familiar. He wins your friends and family’s affection as well as (subtly) their loyalty. So when he turns off the charm behind closed doors, you doubt that anyone will believe you when you try to confide in them. No one gets suspicious when communication begins to flow through him, or when he tells them that you’ve stayed at home with a ‘headache’.

What to do if you’re living with a jailer

If you’re living with a jailer then please know there is a way for you to break free. You do not have to continue living in captivity. As we state in each of these articles, each abusive relationship is so unique it would be irresponsible to write our ‘top tips for dealing with jailers’ in this article. Instead our advice is to please visit one of our One Stop Shop or Drop In services where one of our experienced and friendly team members will listen to your story and work with you to stay safe and, if you want to, become free from the abusive relationship. In the mean time, here are a few tips for staying safe with a jailer:

  • Until you have worked with a professional to create a plan for how to leave the relationship safely, avoid letting them know you are thinking of doing this. Any signs of you taking back control may cause the abuser to escalate their methods of power and control.
  • Try to maintain contact with people outside of your relationship. Don’t trust everything your abuser says about them – including what he says they have said about you or done to him. If it’s possible and safe to do so, consider getting a second mobile phone that he doesn’t know about.
  • If possible make copies of important documentation such as passports, bank documents, rental/mortgage agreements etc and hide them somewhere so that if you leave you have copies of all these.
  • Do what you can to maintain independence, even if it’s only small things. This is important to help you maintain your individuality, to have a support network and to maintain your self-esteem.
  • Confide in someone you trust.
  • If you or anyone else is in immediate danger, call 999.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of relief when a prisoner escapes the guards and breaks free. If you’re living with a Jailer then you could enjoy that feeling of relief for real. Remember you haven’t done anything wrong, there is no possible crime you could have committed which would justify your being imprisoned by a partner. Please contact us so that we can help you begin your journey towards freedom today.

In our next article in the Dominator series, we will looking at the persona of The Headworker.

Support to Court Job Vacancy

court-hammer_thumb

SATEDA are thrilled to be recruiting a Support2Court Coordinator to oversee a brand new project following the award of a grant from the Tampon Tax.

The purpose of the role is to design and develop a project which supports victim/survivors of domestic abuse to attend court during child arrangement order hearing and to obtain protective civil orders, such as Non-Molestation Orders and Occupation Orders. The support will be available across Medway, Maidstone and Canterbury courts.

To find out more please visit our vacancies page here.

The Bully

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In our last blog post ‘The Dominator’ we outlined the fact that domestic abuse perpetrators take on a number of different personas and use a number of different tactics to dominate their victim. Over the next few months we will be devoting a blog post to each of these, and this month we will be looking at The Bully.

The dictionary defines a bully as: “A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.” We’ve all come across a few bullies in our time-I’m sure that right now we can think of someone. Whether it was in the school playground/corridors, in your social circle or your work place, bullies are (sadly) everywhere. But imagine living with your bully. Most of us who have come across bullies have been able to escape their influence once the school bell rings or we clock-off for the night. Even people who have grown up living with a bully parent can one day move out. But to be bullied by the person you have committed to being with – either through marriage, verbal declarations, housing arrangements or having kids together – and from whom there seems to be no easy escape is another thing entirely. But this is the reality for many victims of domestic abuse.

 

How does a bully gain and maintain power and control over their victim?

A bully’s main weapon is physical intimidation which causes their victim to fear for their physical safety. Even if physical violence has never occurred, there is always a looming threat that it could occur at any moment in time. Bullies can be seen in business suits and tracksuits, they can be seen with briefcases and bulldogs and can be seen as physically imposing or physically weak. It is not simply the externals that decide on whether someone is a bully, but how they use them. Both the contents of a briefcase and a bulldog could be used to intimidate someone. Equally, they could be used to protect someone, or bring them encouragement or joy.

 

Some of the tactics that a bully might use include:

 

  • Glares: The beauty of a glare for a perpetrator is that it can be delivered across a crowded room and both the glare and the danger it implies is only noticeable by the victim. No one can be arrested, taken to court or accused of domestic abuse because of a glare right? But that glare can cause a victim to stop in their tracks, shut down conversations or change their behaviour in an instant. Because a glare holds a lot of promise – the promise of retribution, increased anger and violence if it isn’t appeased.

 

  • Shouts: There aren’t many things that intimidate me, but someone shouting at me really does. The idea of someone’s aggression, hatred and violent intent being forcefully channelled in my direction is not a pleasant one. I’d probably do anything to diffuse the situation and stop the violence escalating from intent to actual. This is exactly what a bully counts on when they shout at or around their victim – pushing them into submission and compliance in order to diffuse the escalating aggression.

 

  • Smashes things: Again, a bully counts on their victim desiring to diffuse this display of violence and aggression before it destroys more possessions or gets turned on the victim themselves. The perpetrator may not want anything more from their victim in that moment than the knowledge that they are dangerous and should be submitted to in the future if they want to avoid further and potentially worse displays of aggression.

 

  • Sulks: When a dominant character sulks, it affects the atmosphere of the whole room and everyone is deeply aware of the volatile mood of that person. Everyone around them walks on egg shells and desperately avoids rocking the boat, which for a victim of domestic abuse inevitably means relenting to the desires and demands of their perpetrator, often at great personal cost.

 

What to do if you’re living with a bully

If you’re in a relationship with a bully then please know that there is a way out. You do not have to continue being their victim. Each abusive relationship is so unique that it would be irresponsible to write our ‘top tips for dealing with bullies’ in this article, and the reality is that you will never be able to get a bully to stop being a bully. Instead our advice is to please visit one of our drop in or One Stop Shop services where one of our experienced and friendly team members will listen to your story and work with you to stay safe and, if you want to, become free from the abusive relationship. In the mean time, here are a few tips for staying safe with a bully:

  • Until you have worked with a professional to create a plan for how to leave the relationship safely, avoid letting them know you are thinking of doing this. Any signs of you taking back control may cause the abuser to escalate their methods of power and control.
  • If a challenging conversation of any nature is unavoidable, make sure they take place in a room in the house where you have a clear escape route. Somewhere with more than one exit would be ideal.
  • If you have someone you can talk to about your relationship, establish a code word that you can either send in a text or say over the phone and they will know to come round or phone the police.
  • Keep a log of all instances of abuse and photograph any evidence of physical violence. This could be very helpful if the situation ever went to the police or court.
  • If you or anyone else are is any danger, call 999 immediately.

 

The main thing to remember when living with a Bully is that their power does not extend as far as they want you to think is does. There are safe ways to get out from under a Bully, so please get in touch with us and we can help you begin your journey to freedom.

 

In our next article in the Dominator series, we will looking at the persona of The Jailer.

Project Iris

Project Iris is an programme which works with GPs as a referral and training support programme.  This service doesn’t currently operate in Swale but SATEDA are aiming to lead on the provision, subject to funding.

We’re asking all GP’s and practice managers to register their interest so we can approach the commissioners with a view to securing the funding.  Please send us your details via our contact page.

Fore more information on Project IRIS, please follow this link and download the documents below: http://www.irisdomesticviolence.org.uk/iris/

GP letter

IRIS_CommissioningPack_Dec16_AW

IRIS_strategic relevance_ summary_June 2017

If you would like to get in touch with Carey, our project lead, to discuss this further, please get in touch with us using the form below:

“It’s not like he’s hit her or anything”

Working for a domestic abuse charity seems to make people want to tell you about the relationships of women they care about. Sometimes it’s simply because they just don’t like the guy, sometimes they have some genuine concerns about behavioural changes they have noticed in their friend/relative. But after reeling off a list of examples of misconduct, they are often all undermined with the summarising statement ‘but it’s not like he’s violent or anything…’

Despite a growing awareness that abuse doesn’t always mean bruises, we STILL wait for physical violence before we think there is anything serious going on. For many of us, physical violence is the straw that breaks the camels back. Only physical violence warrants attention and intervention. However, for many victims of abuse, physical violence never features in the terrorism that they are subjected to, or if it does, it is a sign of the situation dangerously escalating. Not that I’ve read it, but I’m sure that in ‘A dummy’s guide to camelling’, it advises to stop piling on straw on the animal way before it’s back breaks.

At SATEDA we run the Freedom Programme, a course designed for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. It recognises that physical violence is only once aspect of abuse and focuses on the idea of the abuser being ‘The Dominator’ and looks at the various personas the abuser can have. Pat Craven, who designed the course, says:

“When I was a Probation Officer I ran courses for male ‘perpetrators’ of violence against women and children. For two years I sat among groups of men who had injured, raped or killed their victims. I realised that abusive men use a range of tactics to control women… they decide to use violence when they realise that their other tactics are failing”

Pat Craven has identified the following 8 perpetrator personas:

-The Bully

-The Jailer

-The Headworker

-The Sexual Controller

-The King of the Castle

-The Bad Father

-The Liar

-The Persuader

An abuser may only use tactics belonging to one or two of these personas, or they may use all of them. They may never use physical violence or may do so on a daily basis. However, whatever the tactics or persona, it is never acceptable for a persons liberty, rights and wellbeing to be negatively impacted by the deliberate behaviour of another person who is seeking to dominate them. It is never acceptable for a person to be systematically terrorised by another.

Over the next few months, we will be releasing blog posts featuring each of the eight persona’s mentioned above, looking at their tactics and what to do to stay safe if you come across one.

As a parting challenge, let’s agree to never use the phrase ‘but it’s not like he’s violent or anything…’ again. Let’s not neutralise or minimise abuse just because it’s not physical. Let’s instead call a spade a spade and acknowledge abuse when we see it.

Are you wearing the right lenses?

Politics and electoral campaigning is all about us making a judgment about a person. Are they a good person? A good ambassador for the country? A good leader? A good politician? Someone with good policies? When I am considering who to give my vote to in a general election, I will make my judgements by looking at them through particular lenses: politics, leadership and character for example. These are the lenses appropriate for the job I am looking to them to do. By comparison, if I were to vote for someone to win the XFactor, I would be looking at them through the lenses of talent and of my own musical preferences. I don’t need to know their stance on the EU, carbon emissions or tuition fees to judge their ability produce a good album, so I wouldn’t need to look at them through my political lens-it wouldn’t be appropriate or fair.

During the recent election campaign, all party leaders were viewed and judged through the appropriate lenses outlined above. Apart from Theresa May, who was also judged through an additional lens- her gender, making her fight even harder than her male counterparts. Don’t believe me? Here are four pieces of evidence:

Exhibit A: ‘Legs-it’

A corker of a piece of sexist broadcasting from the Daily Mail published a picture of May and Sturgeon at the Brexit talks with the headline “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it?!” with the sub heading: “Oh so frosty! Secrets of Nicola and PM’s talk-in”. This not only reduced two of the most powerful people in the country to nothing more than sexualized objects, but likened their politically significant talks to a scene out of The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills or a teenage sleep over.

This piece used Theresa May’s gender to comment on, undermine and belittle both her position and her work. It seems the Daily Mail cannot allow a woman to look like a credible leader or professional.

Exhibit B: Her well documented fashion choices.

On the day she announced the general election, the Telegraph ran a piece about the dress she was wearing, suggesting that it was her new ‘lucky dress’. Apparently the fact that she was wearing a new dress meant that she had to be about to make a big announcement, and of course a woman would need to gain confidence from their clothing, rather than their brains. May herself has said ‘You can be clever and like clothes. You can have a career and like clothes’. We don’t see men needing to let us all know that you can be clever and have a career and like football/beer/other stereotypical male pastime.

Yes, Corbyn’s outfits have received attention, but because he was being scruffy, and through the lens of politics, it didn’t make him look like a serious political candidate. Apart from this, there has been no wide-spread media coverage of another candidate’s outfits.

Exhibit C: Theresa May carrying the weight of ‘Women in Politics’.

This headline from the Independent saying ‘Theresa May’s incompetence has set women in politics back decades’ is, in my view completely unfair. Despite the fact that time after time we’ve had male leaders who have disappointed us, they have never been held accountable for the public’s opinion of their entire gender. They have never carried the weight of every other male’s credibility in politics. We’re never led to assume that every male politician has a sex-scandal in their closet just because a (relatively high) number of others have.

Additionally, this statement implies that every future female candidate will be judged based on the flaws of the women who have come before them. They will be starting in the red whilst their male counterparts start in the black.

Exhibit D: She has had to justify why she doesn’t have children.

Time and time again, May has been asked to discuss why she doesn’t have children. Instead of being able to discuss matters of government, she has had a painful part of her personal life probed. She has repeatedly been asked to justify the fact that she hasn’t had children through circumstance rather than choice-because we would deeply mistrust a woman who chose not to have children. She has been asked if she were a mum, would that make her a better/worse Prime Minister. Female candidates are consistently having to publicly address the way they balance home and work in a way that men never do.

 

We don’t judge male politicians through the lens of gender. We don’t look at Corbyn, Farron, or Farage and judge them as males – we simply judge them as politicians and human beings. Think what you like about Theresa May’s policies, her actions as Prime Minister or even her personality. But don’t judge her as a politician or Prime Minister through the lens of her gender – it’s not appropriate and it’s not fair.

Wolves in Sheep’s clothing.

It’s fairly old news that certain genres of music are full of lyrics that are quite openly and obviously misogynistic, demeaning and violent towards women. I like to think that I’m pretty switched onto this and sensor my music accordingly. I went to a Maroon 5 concert a couple of years ago and was the one person sat down with my arms crossed whilst Robin Thicke supported them with his gem of a song ‘Blurred Lines’. I avoid artists like Eminem, Snoop Dog, Rhianna and the plethora of artists that we all know are less than on point when it comes to gender and sexual ethics.

But whilst I’ve been sat up on my high horse, listening to my power ballads, love songs and sugary pop music, I haven’t been able to shake the niggling thought that this type of music might not be much better. Sure, no one is calling anyone a you-know-what or explicitly celebrating sexual assault, but there is a fine line between romantic and creepy. And the danger is that some alarming attitudes and beliefs hidden in these romantic/lovey dovey/sugary lyrics are just that – hidden. We find ourselves singing along, letting our attitudes be shaped by them without even noticing. They are like wolves in sheep’s clothing, luring you in with their sweet, fluffy exterior before they bite.

Here are a few examples:

-‘Every Breath You Take’, Sting

At first glance, this song could be seen as a wildly romantic statement of commitment However the entire song’s lyrics (sampled below), are uncomfortably reminiscent of threats/experiences that our clients endure at the hands of their perpetrators.

Every breath you take / Every move you make / Every bond you break / Every step you take / I’ll be watching you / Every single day / Every word you say / Every game you play / Every night you stay / I’ll be watching you / Oh can’t you see / You belong to me

-‘She Will Be Loved’, Maroon 5.

I happily sang along with this song after dutifully rejecting Robin Thicke. But upon closer inspection this song seems to be an instruction manual of how to take advantage of vulnerable 18 year-old girls. He drives for miles and miles to wind up at her door– how sweet –because ‘I’ve had you so many times, but somehow I want more’. Oh, not so sweet. And if she’s not up for it, he’ll just wait on her corner, even in the pouring rain, presumably until she relents. Also, the advice to all men out there is to look out for girls with a ‘broken smile and ask her if she wants to stay a while’.

-‘You’re Having My Baby’, Paul Anka.

Confession: I actually know this song from the Glee sound track, where it was sung by a 16 year old guy, sweetly vowing to stand by the girl he’d got pregnant. But the song promotes an entirely possessive view point. The woman in question is having HIS baby, as a way of proving her love to Him. Pregnancy is a common tool for an abuser. To have a pregnant victim can mean that their perceived dependency, obligation and loss of self. This lyric is dangerous as it fuels the notion that impregnating women is a man’s stamp of ownership and a way of proving loyalty.

-‘Saving All My Love For You’, Whitney Houston

This is seen as one of the greatest love songs of all time. But it’s actually about a woman having an affair as a married man. The man strings poor Whitney along, promising her more than he is ever going to deliver, just so that he can have his cake and eat it too. But even more dangerous is that this experience is romanticised by Whitney, making it seem ok to a) have an affair with someone else’s spouse and b) settle for the tid-bits of a mans affection as and when he wants to give it.

-‘I’ll Keep Waiting’, S Club 7.

Even squeaky clean S Club 7, whose primary market was school children have some lyrical skeletons in their closet. In this song, Bradley ‘raps’ ‘Hey girl, it’s just a matter of time, before you come on home and I get what’s mine / Damn it girl, why can’t you see, it’s not over for you and me’. The girl in question is clearly stupid, one day she will see the light, realise that she literally belongs to Bradley, that the choice isn’t hers to make and will return him, giving him what is rightfully his.

– ‘Father Figure’, George Michael

The lyrics of the chorus could lead you to believe that this is a simply lovely song about adoption: Greet me with the eyes of a child / I will be your father figure/ Put your tiny hand in mine / I will be your preacher teacher…I’m gonna love you till the end of time.

But confusion comes when George also invites them to be bold, warm and naked with him, to be his lover. This song is either a blantant piece of evidence of child abuse (although ironically he’s ‘had enough of crime’), or an attempt to significantly un-balance the power dynamic in the relationship. The subject is painted as inexperienced, vulnerable to his influence and in need of his protection. 

– ‘Black Heart’, Stooche.

This one hit the charts in 2013 and with it’s catchy melody was a popular choice on the radio. But the lyrics of the chorus are particularly alarming: ‘Daddy I’ve fallen for a monster / Somehow he’s scaring me to death / He’s big and he’s bad / I love him like mad / Momma, he’s the best I ever had / Daddy I’ve fallen for a monster / He got a black heart.

The song doesn’t even seem to suggest that any of this is a bad thing, or a reason to get out of the relationship asap. Instead it glamourizes and normalises the behaviour of a monster, who is scaring his partner to death. Great.

 

I don’t want to be a party pooper. I don’t want you to stop enjoying the music you enjoy and limiting yourself to instrumental music and nursery rhymes. I’m sure you could argue that you that many of these lyrics weren’t intended in the way I have interpreted them. You’re probably right. But I just want to encourage us to start thinking about the lyrics we are unconsciously singing, to once in a while look at them through the lens of unhealthy relationships and gender inequality and consider whether there is a wolf hiding underneath the sheepskin. We need to question the things we are singing/listening to and the way it then makes us view, think and feel about relationships. Because actually I don’t want someone watching every move, step and breath that I take and I certainly don’t want someone with a black heart who scares me to death!

If you’ve discovered some wolves in sheeps clothing, then let us know in the comments!


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