This past week, Engendered, a new podcast highlighting "stories that explore the systems, practices, and policies that enable gender-based violence and oppression and the solutions to end it" launched. This podcast had us from day one, with host Teri Yuan interviewing Dr. Evan Stark on coercive control on the very first full-length episode. The episode runs a bit over an hour and is an engaging listen all the way through. Dr. Stark talks about his work in domestic violence over the years and how it led him to an understanding of the role of coercive control in women's lives, why coercive control impacts women differently than men, how the United States can tackle the problem of coercive control and the role of systemic inequality.
You should listen to the entire episode, but these gems stood out:
- Inequality as enabler of coercive control: "It is because of persistent inequalities that coercive control is possible. It is also, I believe... because women have gained so much that coercive control is necessary if men want to protect their privileges today. You see, the essential reason why men use coercive control today is because domestic violence is often ineffective. Domestic violence is illegal. Women can escape domestic violence."
- How abusers utilize special knowledge of their partner's concerns and weaknesses to threaten and control them: Often when we ask women, "what does he do when he really wants to frighten you," the things they tell us are things that you wouldn't think about, because they are things that only he knows because of the privileged knowledge he has gained due to his intimacy with you. The knowledge he has of your brother's death, so that when he really wants to hurt you, he points to the baseball cap that you have from your brother... the one thing that you have and he threatens to destroy that. He just has to point to it and you're devastated and you'll do whatever he commands."
- An example of when threats look like love: "Darling, you're cold, here is your sweatshirt. ...and only he knows and only you know... that the threat is that you'll have to cover up tonight because he'll hit you. And if he never lays his hands on you in that way, the simple offer of the sweatshirt is enough to let you know that you have done something to offend to him..."
- On the gendered dimension of coercive control: "Right now, women are being told that they should dress as they should, clean as they should, cook as they should, care for their children as they should solely because that is the expectation of them as women."
- Discussing how the United States can tackle the problem of coercive control: "Law alone is not gonna do it. ...You cannot distinguish the justice agenda for women from the equality agenda for women. ...You can't expect that you're going to have justice in personal life until you have equality in social life."
We are particularly excited that the show's first full-length episode focused on coercive control, as well as the systemic approach it takes to exploring gender-based violence. While I haven't had a chance to listen to all of the available episodes yet, the next few episodes look to be just as good (and important):
- Episode 3: Phyllis Frank, the Senior Director of VCS, a mental health counseling and family service agency located in Rockland County, with an anti-racist, social justice mission. Phyllis started the first NY Model for Batterer Programs and will discuss effectiveness of batterer intervention programs.
- Episode 4: Ruth M. Glenn, the CEO and President of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), speaking about the work she does at the NCADV and to debunk commonly held myths of survivors and abusers and how survivors and advocates like herself can play a vital role in the crafting of a national narrative in this work that is inclusive, empowering and impactful. The episode will also highlight gun prevention efforts and the NCADV’s role in the creation of the DisarmDV website.
If the first episode is any indication of the value of this podcast, we can't wait to see what's next! There are already three full-length episodes you can listen to on the Engendered website or you can subscribe anywhere podcasts can be found.
Written by Abigail Hazlett