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This is the good, the bad and the ugly. I'm the boss of that, no, I'm boss. That sounds weird. If I were going around calling myself the boss.
Anyway, look, this podcast is filled with uncensored interviews with experts in particular fields or real life stories from people who have inspiring personal tales to tell. It covers various topics in life, stories that I've really dug, you know what I mean? And I think you'll dig them to just say, you know, this podcast is for grown ups that may contain adult themes, sexual references and strong language. Fuck, yeah, I just wanted it, she said.
Ladies and gentlemen, the story you about to hear. Oh, now wait. I know you're going to dig this. I think the best thing for me to do is to introduce what's called what's his name. I mean, it's not a Swami me.
It's Bass Ashmawy.
Yeah. You're very welcome to the third episode of The Good Taste. Not to hurt is a fourth time. No, we won't do retake. We'll just go to. It's the fourth episode of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Man man. What a week.
Seriously, it's crazy. Like, look for those listeners who are abroad because we have listeners abroad, don't we, John? John. Very good. Johnstone's well into an international pitch. What what can I say? We have listeners like John John said in the UK. We've someone in Australia, France and the States, man, we got some listeners in Egypt, probably relatives of mine, if I'm quite honest. My aunt. Salaam aleikum Tantowi, by the way.
But for those who are living abroad or I don't know, maybe you're in the future. Maybe you're listening back to this episode. Oh, back to the future.
Oh, let's go back to the future if my calculations are correct. But this baby hits 88 episodes. You know, you're going to see some serious shit.
Mardie, I mean, John. John, do you think, by the way, John John's just a little voice in a box right now because we've social distance in here and John John can't be in the office with me. So are you okay? John.
John, I know we're getting closer. Yeah. There's just this little voice in the box, but need me. It's very strange. Look, let me set the scene for for our listeners. For those who don't know, it's the it's Tuesday, the 27th of October. Twenty twenty course it's twenty bloody twenty whatever ends.
But this episode will be as relevant in Timbuktu as it is in 2035. Ireland has just entered the second lockdown. Right stage five or the Bob Marley stage because it's as high as it gets. Now, knotting your toes. Great. OK. All right, and it's socks at the moment. I'm very aware. I think we all are. There's a weird kind of atmosphere out there. It's kind of like a was just kind of like an anxiety for this week.
I want to touch on something really important for everyone to listen to because it affects so many people. Maybe it's you or it's a friend or a neighbor or a colleague or maybe it's just, I don't know, unraveled the tapestry of your society so you can have empathy and understanding for what some people are living through. This episode is on domestic abuse, but it's a positive show because I don't do negative. I can't do negative shit. There has to be a positive spin on it.
Sometimes you just need to hear things in black and white stuff. So that's but, you know, to be you need to hear things out loud because you said I wanted to focus on in particular coercive control because it affects the minds of people so much like a lot of people don't even realize it's been done to them, you know, or maybe you don't realize you're doing it to someone else. That's fucking unacceptable. Jess Hill is an Australian investigative journalist.
She's been writing and researching about domestic abuse since way back in 2014. Before that, she was a producer for ABC Radio, a Middle East correspondent for the Global Mail. She was listed in Foreign Policy's top 100 women to follow on Twitter. And you should. And also as one of the 30 most influential people under 30 by Cosmopolitan magazine. Her reporting has one to walk towards an Amnesty International and three hour watch awards. Her stellar award winning, I repeat, her stellar award winning.
See, what you made me do is an absolute game changer in this area of coercive control. And she very, very kindly took the time to chat to me.
Hey, Jess, you're an Aussie. And are you and a.. Are you okay? Yeah. Well, when I was actually recording the audio book, the guy who was producing me, I kept on having to say, say, Australia, not Australia. So I would say not always, but sometimes I have. Yeah, mode's I.
The first thing that struck me was why did you write this book?
Yeah, it's a good question. I asked that question of myself many times during the four years that I was writing it. And I think that essentially I mean, I came to this subject like almost accidentally. It was the killing of a young boy called Luke Batty by his father at a public cricket pitch.
And something happened that year to our country where we just suddenly went from, not really wanting to hear these stories and not respecting the people who lived through it to suddenly being so hungry to understand why this was still happening that it was suddenly making headline news and front page news. And then Rosie Batty became Australian of the Year in 2015, and she worked that like nobody else ever had before. She did hundreds of appearances and that momentum was part of what got me reporting on this issue.
It's funny you say that, because even doing this subject matter in the series of the podcast that I'm doing, I was like, is this too dark? Is this is this wrong? But there's something inherent at the moment that I've just seen it appear quite a lot where, you know, people are talking about domestic violence and domestic abuse and how how it's just gone through the roof since locked in. Like, I don't know the details of why, but could you tell me why you think it's it's a kind of growing more than ever.
Yeah. I mean, well, historically, we know that when you have a recession, you have increased rates of domestic abuse. When you have holiday seasons like Christmas, you have increased rates of domestic abuse partly because you have all the family together at one time. So if you have a situation, certainly we've had this in Australia and in in certain times over in the UK and Ireland, where you are mostly together in the house, or there is less opportunity for you to go out and the economy is shrinking and people are losing jobs that they are.
That's a pressure cooker situation for domestic abuse. It's the question that we're asking now is, are we seeing aggressive partners become aggressive for the first time during this or is it exacerbating existing dynamics? And there's going to have to be a lot of study on this later to find out what's really happening there. But, yeah, I mean, this is a this is a situation that is incredibly challenging to everybody. You see people unraveling and all sorts of different ways.
You see people going across to Kuhnen conspiracy theory, sort of, you know, almost like cult, like followings. You see people struggling with their own mental health anxiety. You know, it's not just covid. It's the threat of climate change. It's what social media does to our brains. It's so many different things, the pressures that we're under. And in the book, I really talk about one of the I think, you know, the key drivers for abuse, especially in in male perpetrators, is unacknowledged and toxic levels of shame.
And so when you have something like a recession or you have things where women are feeling challenged, where they're feeling like their status emasculated to the extent as well.
Emasculated. Yeah, those kinds of guys who have not only just like toxic, unacknowledged shame, which may stem from childhood, it may just stem from not wanting to ever compromise and being very entitled. When you pair that with entitlement, you had a very, very dangerous. And where these where these guys really feel like they shouldn't have to feel any type of shame, they shouldn't have to feel weakness, they should never feel vulnerability. And so they'll project that shame onto their partner.
And in order to feel more powerful, they'll sort of exert this humiliated fury, which can either be actual aggression and violence or it can be controlled.
This is what I wanted to gradation.
So say the difference between domestic violence and domestic abuse. How would you would you explain that to people?
Well, essentially, it's just a matter of terms like I mean, domestic violence can mean domestic abuse. Why I use the term domestic abuse is largely actually following what's happened in the U.K. and across Ireland, where the terminology has been changed because it's not just physical violence or sexual violence. And we don't call it child violence because we have neglect and molestation and other forms of non-physical violence included in that term. And with domestic abuse, you have so many non-physical elements like control, surveillance, gaslighting, isolation, that when you use the term violence, we still think of incidents instead of courses of behaviour.
And I think that the big project on that's really been on for the last 15 years plus has been to take to replace that incident based lens where we think about a hit or a rape or whatever it is, and replace it with what is an accumulation of behaviour. And that accumulation of behaviour is actually what is incredibly impactful on victims, both adults and kids, whereas the one off incident may just be the the big brush fire that gets people's attention.
But in and of itself, that is not all that domestic violence.
Tell me this, because what what happens sometimes is when I think when someone is trapped in in in their own universe. Right. And and they can't see the wood for the trees a little bit, what are the signs like? What are the signs that that you're being mistreated mentally. Physically is so it's so it's so much more obvious if your partner is hitting you or someone is hitting you or physically hurting you. That's that's a very obvious you know, that that's that's wrong.
But because mentally, you can be subjugated in such a way where you're tricked and confused. So if someone was listening, how would they know if they're in a relationship that they're being taken advantage of?
It's very difficult. And I'd say most most women I mean, this is what statistics say, most women in particular, who are living with coercive control to the particularly controlling type of abuse. They don't know and they don't know until sometimes until the relationship is over or until it's become very dangerous. Now what what I heard a psychiatrist here in Australia who I work with is described it so beautifully the other day, which is to say that often victims believe that they are making choices in this in this environment.
And they're saying, well, I choose to make sure the house is clean before he gets home or I choose to really, you know, clean all the jazz in the cupboard because I like it that way. But the choices they're making are because there are consequences if they don't do that.
So they think that they're choosing because because their partner is not saying you have to do this.
But what happens is they make it very clear that if you don't, there will be consequences, though the consequences might be physical, the consequences are verbal.
Abuse is degrading.
Yeah, it could be just your your degraded. It could be your stonewalls. Like they don't talk to you for two days. It could be any number of punishments. But it's this is why we call it coercive control and not just control. So much of it is about coercion and setting up this environment of confusion and contradiction and threat.
How how do they disguise that? Like, if you're in a family environment, say you're in the family firm, how do they disguise stonewalling you in front of your children or do they?
In a lot of cases, you know, the kids are aware that you don't ask any questions, you know, or if he's stonewalling, will you just tiptoe around him? You know, I mean, that's so in a lot of cases, the kids are as sort of involved in that coercive control environment as the as the mother is. In other cases, it may be much more subtle undermining, which is sad because kids only know what they know.
Right. That's the thing.
It's absolutely devastating. You know, when you hear like I spoke to a number of kids for the for the book, I really wanted their voices to be heard as primary, not just secondary victims or witnesses. And, you know, one one little kid is eight years old, Finley. He was a really keen gamer. And he said he used to read his dad's face like an algorithm and he'd be able to see just the subtle changes in his face that would tell him how his dad would behave that night.
And what you really hearing in that is the kind of hyper vigilance that soldiers have where they start to. I got a foreign assignment and they're seeing a slight change in the way people are sort of milling around and keeping very vigilant to like when is something going to happen? When is something going to change that is going to be a threat? That's what kids are doing. And brain scans have shown that actually children who grow up in these environments have the same sort of brain patterns as returned servicemen.
And it's about that hyper vigilance, constantly alert to threat and constantly managing that and and develop mentally. So they are organizing the development around the constant presence of threat and betrayal, you know, by it, by their parents.
But to get back to what you were saying about what are the signs, you know, so you might know and then, yes, I mean, really the classic sort of list of behaviors from a perpetrator of coercive control, isolation, monopolizing the victim's perception. So either convincing them that it's either their fault or that they're really broken person, the perpetrator is a broken man and just needs the loyalty and love of their partner to fix them. You know, it's like if you're the strong one, you can fix me.
So but what they do in monopolizing that perception is say, like put all of the focus on the victim and the victims wondering what can I do to fix this? Why is he doing this to me or what is it about me that draws this, etc., etc. So they stop looking at what he's doing and they also start to feel levels of shame and guilt. Then you've got gaslighting. You've got to speak up.
It's because you hear these terms all the time. But I sometimes I think people don't have a clue what they are, you know.
So gaslighting can be as as overt as I just pushed you over. You come pick yourself up and go, why did you do this? And I say, what do you mean, I didn't do anything that can be that overt or it can be much more subtle and like a slow attack on your sanity, which is something like I tell you on our first date that I love Thai food more than any other food. So the next time we get together, you're like, let's go out to Thai.
I like I hate Thai food. I don't want to go to Thai. So suddenly you're like, hang on a minute. I'm sure they said that. But so it's that over and over and over and over to the point where you're starting to doubt your sanity. And then they start to say things like, why do you always get this wrong? You know, what's wrong with you? Can't you remember simple things and then see something? Maybe I'm going crazy, you know?
So this is what what starts to make so many victims feel like they're going mad and then they feel even more trapped. Like if I didn't have this person that I'm with to, like, make decisions for me or to watch out for me, how would I survive on my own like I'm crazy? So there's that threats and degradation. You know, threats to harm pets is a very big one. Used a lot or actual harm of pets, a basic entrapment, which means that even though they may not be actually physically trapped in the house, they becomes a very clear sense that if they were to leave, they would someone they love may be harmed, they may be harmed, or that there is no way that you can get out of this, that there's that you are utterly trapped in this situation.
And that's and they may do that, especially through financial abuse. So withholding money or controlling bank accounts is a really big one so that, you know, the victim gets an allowance. It doesn't have enough money to actually leave surveillance cameras inside the house, GPS trackers in the car, surveillance on the phone. You know, all of this stuff is very easy to access. You can get this stuff online very cheaply. You don't have to be tech savvy.
And at least in Australia, that sort of surveillance is not uncommon.
Yeah. It's so shocking. I know we're talking we're talking about women. What do you know what the percentages are? You know what they are for women who are in some kind of coercive situations like that?
Yeah. So do you mean like versus male male victims or just the general population?
Like many, many women are. Oh, how many?
It's about generally across Western countries it's it hovers around one in four.
One four. Yeah. Four. Yeah.
Someone in their lifetime. And it's. Wow. I'm shocked that.
Like is there a personality like is there is it a certain I'm not playing. I'm no way. Black people have different types of personality. Is there a personality type that is more susceptible to being kind of fallen into that kind of category?
Now, what I see time and time again is you have these women who are really selfless, who are very caring and who actually put themselves in the role of the carer for this man who is kind of unhinged and has all these problems that they're trying to fix. And they're like one more show of devotion, one more show of loyalty, and he'll finally trust me, he'll finally, you know, not think I'm cheating on him or not need to track my every movement.
And so actually, that selflessness, which is, you know, when you when you meet someone who's, like, selfless, like a nurse or whatever, we think that that's a great quality and it is a beautiful quality. But that feeling like I will just do whatever is necessary to help you, that's that's a really common victim trait. And it's not because that's a it's not a weakness. You know, it's actually these women are often incredibly strong.
Do you know what the stats for men are? And if it's one in four for women, you know, do you know what the stats for men might be?
It depends on how you measure it. So I'm not it's against data is so difficult in this area. But so if you if you're looking at sort of incidents of whether they've experienced incidents of physical violence, I think it's like one in seven in Australia. But I'm not exactly remember.
Tell me this. Who is Albert Fetterman?
Yes. Well, he's very interesting in this whole area of study in that he's got nothing to do with domestic abuse at all. He was a US Air Force sociologist, and in the 1950s, after the Korean War ended, he started studying, returned American prisoners of war because they had done they had behaved in a way that was completely unprecedented when they were in the the camps being run by the Chinese communists. And that is that they had informed on fellow prisoners that confessed, made up atrocities.
They had, you know, basically decried capitalism and made broadcasts extolling the virtues of communism. Some have even defected to communist China. So the American media and even members up to the head of the CIA were all convinced that they've been brainwashed and that the Soviets and the communist Chinese had come up with some fancy brainwashing machine to make these soldiers do what no other soldiers in, you know, in wars had ever done and well, beat them and basically decided that this all sounded like rubbish, that there was no fancy brainwashing machine.
And why doesn't someone go and talk to these guys and find out what had happened? And what he got through their testimonies was that they had been subjected to routines of what he called coercion and control. And he highlighted eight techniques that were used against them, starting with isolation, with monopolising the perception inducing debility and exhaustion, degrading them, threatening them, alternating punishments with rewards. So, you know, setting up this trust relationship first, when they'd be taken prisoner, the communists would sort of like set them on the back, tell them they are friends of the workers of America, give them cigarettes.
So the soldiers would go into these camps sort of feeling like maybe we're going to be OK. You know, maybe these people are not going to hurt us.
They just want us off the battlefield and then this process of coercive control would begin. So Biederman's actually the first person to ever actually anonymise what coercive control is now. It's something that has been used in interrogations, in cults for like centuries, you know, going back time immemorial because it seems like actually as humans we instinctively know how to undermine another person's autonomy and gain a type of control over them. And so what we've what we found after Bitterman gave all these testimonies to Congress and saying that in that list of behaviours, physical violence was not present and it was not necessary.
And in fact, where captives were physically violent, the soldiers would actually sort of snap out of the kind of fog they were in. It was. Actually, it was not useful, physical violence only needed to be believable and threatened because the mental the mental abuse, because it's something that is, like we mentioned earlier, is something you don't see, but it's something that's probably easily as damaging. It's easily as damaging as being struck or being hit, you know.
Yeah, well, and I think the way to think about that is that, you know, in these situations, physical violence is just a part of that system of abuse. It's not the abuse. It's a part of a way of humiliating and degrading the person. It's a part of a way of making sure they know who's boss, you know, training them into compliance, which was another big part of what Bitterman identified as part of coercive control. So the less overtly physical violence someone is, as you said earlier, the less likely it is that a victim will cottoned on to what's going on, whereas as a strike, sexual violence, that may be just enough to snap them out of it and say, hang on a minute, I'm in threat here.
Of course, a lot of the time victims are rationalizing what's happening to them, often to protect their partner or protect the marriage. So they're like he's only doing this because he's stressed. He's doing this because he's unwell. But I'm really trying to help him. All these levels of rationalization, they build like sediment between the truth and what you come to believe. And so it can take victims a really long time or just just time away from this abusive person to dig below all those that sedimentary level of rationalization to actually see what was happening to them.
Yeah. Is it is it something that you can because a lot of the talk is about the victim, the victim, the victim just confessed. Sorry for the victim because it's there's so much focus on them while what really is there enough focus on the perpetrator? You know, like like is there signs? Is there is that a certain personality type? Is this you know, is it something to just appears one day or is it always in the know?
Like, I totally agree. And that's why we called it see what you made me do and put the words of the perpetrator on the cover because I wanted people to think about the perpetrator from the very first moment they open the book. We foreground victims, survivors because they offer themselves to be studied. You know, as the Harvard psychiatrist Judith Hyman pointed out, perpetrators don't want to be studied and don't have a lot of testimony from them. And even if they do, you know, often you're not sure if what they're saying is actually insightful.
Do they know what they're might do? They are they don't mind that they don't realize what they're doing or do they not care or are they sociopaths or like.
Well, there has been so there have been a number of attempts to try to sort of get get an understanding of other different types of abuses. So they call this typologies. And there's we have to always take this a bit with a grain of salt because, you know, people are complex and they don't neatly fit into categories. But I think it helps just to get a sense of like what basic patterns we see.
And some people will go between one and the other, depending what relationship they're in, etc. But perhaps some one of them, one of the most populist sort of studies that really caught on in the early 90s was done by doctors Jacobson and Gottman and Dr. Gutman's sort of very famous relationship research expert. And they had this thing called the Love Lab, and they basically invited these couples into the love lab to fight. And they found 63 couples who had histories of coercive control.
And so what they did, they hook them up with all these machines, you know, measuring sweat, heart rate. They were coding whatever they said. It was very elaborate. And what they found is that 20 percent of these men who went into the lab would strike like immediately, like like like a snake. Very fast, very sadistic, very aggressive. But as they were doing that on the heart rate monitor, their heart rates went down, not up.
So they actually became more calm the more aggressive they got. And what they sort of ascertained from that is that that aggression and that control was their comfort spot. And when they started to interview and look at their sort of life histories and the relationship histories, these what they called and I'm not really I'm not happy with terms like this, but they call them culebras. What they saw is that these guys actually did know what they were doing. They were pathological about it, that they pretty much repeated the same pattern in every relationship.
They weren't that intimately attached to their partner, but they were very attached to having someone they could control. And so they would use pretty much the same patterns in every relationship. They were very dangerous at the moment. They were going to be exposed or left, but they were less likely to stalk and sort of, you know, really be a thorn in that person's side for the rest of their life. The other 80. Santoso, where a group of men that they call pit bulls.
Anyway, the reason they call them that was because the anger was slow to build their heart. Rates, of course, went through the roof as they became more aggressive as you'd expect would be a normal response. But they would just go and go and go their partners and not let go. It was just like watching a pit bull, literally just lockjaw onto its victim. And what they found is that pit bulls were much more likely to stalk and even kill their partner.
And, you know, they'd be the kind of guys that would murder suicide because they'd be the guys who were absolutely needed their partner. They were terrified of abandonment, absolutely terrified of being disrespected and cheated on. And when their partners would leave for the guys that would go through and do this sort of thing, they'd feel like there was nothing left to live for, whereas a cobra would just sort of reinvent himself.
Some people, because I was talking to a friend of mine about this. Some people are good in conflict, aren't they? They're happy in conflict. You know, this is an arena or a space that they're they're happy. And while someone else doesn't even like confrontation, doesn't like complaining about the meal they get, let alone get into serious confrontation. Do you think as well that there's a level of if you've come from a history of of, say, SustainX and a lot of shit, you know, Sheldon, because I hear people going, well, why don't they just leave?
Like, why don't you just go? And I just always think the such a stupid thing to say because you're obviously not putting yourself in any way in this person's shoes.
And it just from people that I've met over the years, just some people, that their level of I'll take this much shit off someone is much more different, like you like if your husband came in and started giving, you might just freak out while your level of taking shit might be completely different to mine. Maybe I would sustain a hell of a lot more.
So how do you even begin to mambos? The type of person or how to identify it, I don't know in my mind. Yes, I think that, you know, what's also important to think about is the accumulation effect. So if someone were to like if your partner was just to go from being completely normal to, like, just throwing shit at you, you'd be like, piss off about if you if I were to subtly undermine your self-esteem, subtly undermine your sanity.
And you didn't even notice it happening. But you're like a frog in boiling pot, then maybe by the time they have a go at you. You think I deserve that? You don't. I mean, this is what this is what coercive control is, is it is creating an environment in which the worst degradation somehow makes sense. Even if parts, you know, victims may be saying, I don't deserve this, what he's doing is wrong. They'll often they'll rationalize it like, but I can't lose the marriage or the children need their father or there's all sorts of ways they'll rationalize what's happening.
One woman I spoke to, it was it was not until her partner shook their baby so violently that she was worried that it would hemorrhage, that she left and she did leave. And very bravely, you know, she pressed charges. It was and it was a huge ordeal for her. She had to go through family court. But she said to me what I realized later was that I had thought of myself as expendable, the marriage and my baby.
Having a father was more important than me being alive. Like I kind of had made peace with the idea that he might kill me. And this is a person who's like a trauma nurse. She's so intelligent and so strong and now would not put up with one ounce of shit, you know, like I she's one of the strongest and most impressive women I've ever met.
You know, it's inspiring about that as someone who's evolved, you know, because because I think I think people get into into into a space where they don't see any hope whatsoever. You know, they just think this is it. I you know, this is the horse I backed and I'm fucked now, you know, I'm just not invested so much in it.
And people say, I've heard I've heard victims say it's sort of like the stock market, but you see the share market crash if you've invested 10000 dollars. So you're like, I'm just going to wait and see if it goes back up again, because if I back out now, I lose everything because I spoke just as you say that.
Do they change? Can they change? Will they change?
Well, because I think this is what people tell themselves constantly, oh, it'll get better. And they make excuses and they go, you'll get better. Maybe if we talk a true and you know, and they could go through a stage of being better for a while and then slip back into it as long as soon as possible. But can they change in general?
I think that the definitely a men who have changed, I think that what what some victims get the wrong idea about is that they will be able to change their partners. The partners have to change themselves, you know, and the work that needs to go into that is gigantic is confronting entitlement, perhaps confronting deep, unacknowledged shame, learning how to trust and be vulnerable and intimacy. I mean, there is so much undoing if habituation, when you're told, needs to shame.
Just just to kind of focus on that for a minute. What kind of are you talking about? You're talking about their childhood and maybe abuse and that kind of thing, is it? Yeah.
And it's not even necessarily abuse. I want to just quickly read you this this one paragraph that was from a book that just absolutely made sense of this for me. And it basically it's this book, The Better A Psychological Profile. And Donald Dutton, who is a psychologist and his co-author, Susan Gallant, they identified two parental types that would most commonly lead boys to becoming abusive as men. And that was a cold rejecting mother or more likely a shaming father.
So not necessarily violence, but so far, boys in particular, this type of upbringing would set this future trajectory. And they say there is a pall of shame in such an individual that can find no expression, that is, until an intimate relationship occurs and with it the emotional vulnerability that menaces his equilibrium. The mosque has so carefully crafted over the years. Perhaps it's the mask of a tough guy or a cool guy or a gentleman. Whatever it identity he had created is irrelevant.
Now a woman threatens to go backstage and see him and his shame without the makeup. Then, to his own surprise, the rage starts. He feels like an irritation and sometimes like a tidal wave. He's shocked and surprised. He may apologize and feel shame immediately after, but he can't sustain that emotion. It's too painful, too reminiscent of Hertz long buried, so he blames it on her. And if it happens repeatedly with more than one woman, he goes from blaming her to blaming them.
And his personal shortcomings become rationalized by an evolving misogyny. At this point, the man is. Program for intimate violence, no one on earth can save him, although some will try Jesus as a man. Listen. I'm like, fucking hell, like it's a lot to carry.
Like, Jesus, that's just makes sense, doesn't it? Just like it just.
Yeah, it does. You know, there's a family therapist who talks about the fact that, you know, when you when you raise boys to believe that you absolutely cannot be vulnerable, that you cannot do anything girlie, that you cannot let that to do so is absolutely shameful. And we're not just talking about crying. We're talking about just having softness, having tenderness. You know, when you do that, you basically instill in all boys a level of shame because nobody can ever go through life not being vulnerable, not being soft.
They are parts of us. We're tender, we're born tender. We want love. So what Terrence really sort of says is that we're basically dealing with a population of men who all have this this conflict in this deep sense of shame that they weren't able to be the men they were supposed to be. Because actually, it's ridiculous, the expectations.
What I think it's the only good thing I feel is that this awakening to toxic masculinity and things like that, it's it's it's in our vocabulary now that it was never there before. And it feels good to say, fuck you, I'll do what I like, whether it's I wear pink or if I want to feel sad or cry or I'll do whatever I want, you know, it feels like that was never there before. Me this I want to ask Rob and Deb, they're a great couple.
So fascinating sitting with them. I went and visited them. I was actually with my husband at the time because I was I mean, I was a journalist going to interview them, but I thought he's a husband and wife who have been through domestic violence. They're about ten years out of it. She is a psychologist. He now counsels men who are sort of doing these behaviors. I thought, I don't want to be there with my microphone going open up, you know, tell me about your worst shame.
But why don't we just have two married couples sitting at a table chatting about marriage and see what comes out? And it was so amazing. You know, he is a guy. Rob had been through years of very intense therapy where literally when he got to this point where he'd been very controlling for a long time, he didn't even really know it.
And he became suicidal. And he is on Xanax. He's you know, and he went to see a counselor and he started describing what he's like and, you know, his home life. And the counselor brought up this piece of paper and on it was printed this cycle of violence, which which basically illustrates what domestic violence looks like and all the behaviors. And he said, that's you. That's what you do to your wife. And I think you should go home and talk to her about that.
And Rob was just like, okay. And went home, sat on it for a while and then did actually tell them, you know, and and it was like the scales fell off her eyes and his eyes and suddenly she realized what had been done to her. She's a psychologist. She hadn't picked up what was happening and she had to Google. She probably treated people who were experiencing domestic abuse and did not pick up that. That's what she was experiencing.
And so she Googled emotional abuse. And suddenly I was like, oh, my God, this is just like my life on a screen. So Rob, like, you know, begged her to stay all the rest of it. She was really in a very traumatized response. And he dedicated himself to counseling, very, very intense counseling for years. But even as he was doing that, he was sort of trying to manipulate her like, you know, I really want to make this work.
If you just stop doing that job and come back and look after the kids, then we'll be able to make it work, you know, just constantly trying to manipulate her. But she was alive to it. And she's like, I am not buying into that. And finally, it came to this point where he was able to let it go. He says he remembers just crying in his bedroom for hours. It was like this volcano erupting. And suddenly he was like, I don't need her to stay with me.
I don't need anything. I'm just need to go through this process and stop doing what I'm doing to my kids, even to my friends being controlling, et cetera. And and what he realized is like this is a type of freedom that I need for me, not because I need my marriage. And and it took them a really long time to come back to a state where they could love each other again. And, you know, it was very touch and go.
But I think what Rob says, you know, at the end of all that and what he tries to say to guys, it's like, do it. You don't need to do it for your partner. You don't even need to do it for your kids, but do it for yourself so you can wake up and be free. And this is what I keep saying sort of throughout the book, because it's like as feminists have been. To say for a long time, in different ways, not always quite so lovingly, but, you know, feminism is for men like we're trying to explain to you what patriarchy does to women and men.
And what it does is it limits and threatens all of us. And I think that the sort of process that we all went through was to say, like, I can live a life where intimacy is possible with closeness is possible, where I can trust other men to be friends and not just competition.
Yeah, it makes and makes a lot of sense. It's amazing just to hear that a man would come forward. And I just want to fix himself because the stereotype you think of in your head is that you're doomed. Like a guy like that is never going to change. They're just too crippled by their own their own demons to to ever mend.
If you're a woman in in this kind of situation and you're brittle and raw and alone, what do you do? Like, what's your first step? Do you. Do you go for couples counseling or do you go for counseling for yourself? Do you do you just fucking leave? Like, what do you do.
Well, I guess women will handle it in all different ways. I always advise anyone who's who feels like, oh my God, this is what I'm experiencing. I am experiencing coercive control or I'm being abused and I'm just starting to realize that or I realized it for years and I've just never known what to do. Is the first thing you need to do is develop a safety plan. And there's usually helplines you can call. It'd be great if you guys could list the Irish helpline where you can just get a sense of like how how is it safest for me to leave?
And they'll go through things like they'll they'll assess what kind of threat you're under. So they'll ask hard questions like, have you been choked? Do you feel like you're being surveilled? You know, just to get a sense of what kind of threat are you living with, then they'll talk about what sort of things do you need if you are going to leave, you know, birth certificates or things like things that you're going to need identification papers. A lot of women leave with like a few dollars in their back pocket.
You know, they may not have had any access to money and in in Ireland and certainly in Australia, fortunately, if you don't have somewhere to stay that you feel is safe. They do have refuges. And I can't speak for Irish refugees in specific. But what I know of Australian refugees and refugees across the UK is that they are often welcoming places. They are places where people will make sense of your experience for you and they'll take care of you.
And this is not somewhere that, you know, only totally impoverished, although obviously there are also women who are totally impoverished. But it's not like, oh, I'm homeless now because I'm in a shelter. These are places of extreme protection. You know, the places that usually hide their address. They're places that have security systems in order to protect you, you know, and the women who go to these shelters are often in fear for their lives or their children's lives.
But I think that what it's really important to do, safety planning and also just thinking about like, OK, if I leave, what options do I have?
Like, am I looking at going to family court? Am I looking at, like, just working through that in your head as best you can. Some women won't have the luxury of planning. You know, some women something will happen and they'll be like, can I've got to get out of here right now? Because they think it's a very dangerous situation.
Sometimes it's fearing for your life, but sometimes it's I think some people, some women are pushed into a situation for their mental stability in total so that they don't end up, you know, like killing themselves or something, you know, whether they're questioning their own sanity on things, you know, whereas the fear in their life.
But they just need to they need to get away from that toxic person, you know.
Yeah. And I guess what you try and do in that case is like it's a shame that in a lot of these cases, the women and the women end often. The children have to leave the house, you know, and I guess it's sort of looking into what are the services available. Often helplines will be like a triage point where they'll be able to refer you to someone who can help you safety plan, someone who can help you with financial counselling, someone who can help you with legal advice just to get a sense of what your options are.
Now, women who are being very closely surveilled, their options are limited in terms of how many people they can contact, you know, because they may actually have someone tracking their phone. But it's, I guess, trying to put yourself, if you do have the time, put yourself in the strongest position so that you're not I mean, ideally not leaving with nothing. But for a lot of women, that that's just an option that's not there.
And I'm not just talking about women who come from poor backgrounds or poor situations. Sometimes the wealthiest women on paper can have no access to money whatsoever.
Yeah, we talk about women. Right. And I wanted to because it's it's just so important. And the stats I'm still getting over that they're just they're just frightening.
But but this. This happens in men as well all the time, it's the same advice, it's the same advice for men. Yeah, well, and that's what I find with with men and devoted a whole chapter in the book, both to female perpetrators, but also women who use violence in self-defense in relationships. But in the in the section really on female perpetrators. This certainly can be physical violence is certainly can be emotional abuse. I hear commonly from men who are in these situations.
They may be afraid of what will happen to their children if they leave because they fear that the family court will give custody to the mother and the mother will then neglect or perhaps abuse those children. So they stay in the marriage as supervisors. I mean, I hear that from women as well, but that's something I hear from men. You know, I think it's what what I hear also from frontline workers who deal with both female and male victims is that the that emotional abuse from from women and sort of manipulative abuse is reasonably common.
The amount of male victims, they get as much fewer. What the real distinctive difference is, the lack of threat of homicide. Right. So, I mean, I'm not sure about the stats exactly in Ireland. And it's not unheard of for men to be killed by female perpetrators. But usually when a male is killed by a woman in a relationship, she has been the victim and he has been the perpetrator. Now, in cases, you know, obviously it's terrible when it's when it's a case of the female has been the perpetrator and they go on to kill their male victim.
But I think that generally speaking, not having that threat of homicide changes the equation gigantically. You know, when you I mean, almost every woman I speak to who is is a victim of serious coercive control is afraid of being killed. And it very much changes the decisions that you make and and the equation that you're looking at when you're thinking about leaving or thinking about doing anything, and not just the fear that she'll be killed, but her children will be killed or members of her family or her pets.
So that's what I think is the really key difference between male and female victims. But, you know, that said, and I really go through this in quite a lot of detail in the book, when you do have those rare cases of male victims of coercive control, it's horrific. And especially if if the female perpetrator is a cop or is someone who has a lot of power, like social power, it's incredibly entrapping, you know, and it's very hard for men to find places to seek help.
Part of the reason is because a lot of male perpetrators will claim to be victims. So it's very hard for services to determine, are you actually a victim or are you a perpetrator claiming to be a victim? So it is very difficult for men in these situations. And it would be it would be great if we could develop services that could really help them who could, you know, reliably distinguish between perpetrators and victims and could offer the help that these guys really badly need, which we don't have enough of right now.
Tell me this. If I have a friend or a family and I see one of my parents or something like that, like, what's the best support you can give someone who you think is is under kind of a coercive control? Mm.
It's difficult and it's very it's vexed because essentially what you're dealing with is someone who is being manipulated almost like they're a member of a cult. That's the kind of impact and effect, of course, of control. So for you to go, you know, your partner is terrible. I think you should leave them often. The response you will get is defensiveness and possibly even cutting you off because you're a threat. Right. And they won't believe you. What I found has been effective has been what happens to the victim is they stop seeing the changes in themselves until one day they look in the mirror and they like I don't even know if I recognize this person anymore.
So as a friend, if you're able to say like, hey, you know, I'm just noticing you're really changing, like, you seem really insecure. You're not coming out. It's very hard to just make social engagements with you. You seem very anxious. That sort of thing just keeps them alert to what is happening and brings them back to, like the effects on them, you know, and then if you just stay in their lives, if you can, it's very frustrating for people who love someone who's going through this because it can feel like it's so obvious sometimes what's going on.
And you just want to be able to say, just leave, goddammit, especially if there are children. But what I think what works is just sticking with them, not helping the perpetrator to isolate them by pulling away and just saying to them, you know, putting stuff in front of them that might expose what they're going through, but saying any time you're ready to talk or you want to eat, you want to change this. I'll be there.
Just call me any time. You know, just having that person who is. Not judging you, who's not only being friends with you on the on the proviso that you leave your partner, that is going to make a difference to someone. But, you know, truly, when a kid is in the situation and you see children in danger and you see a victim who cannot see the danger, then, you know, sometimes friends are going to have to call the police.
That's the awful reality.
There are options because I'm saying at the start of this lesson, we're going to have to bring this up because because it's just such a dark subject matter. But there are better options available now than there was in the 80s or even the 90s. Like it's it's a different space now, right?
Oh, absolutely. I mean, you talk to, you know, women who are alive now and some of them actually still with their partners or husbands. And, you know, back in the 70s, they didn't even have a term to describe what was happening. There was no domestic violence as a term until the mid 70s. There were no shelters. There was no legal or criminal justice system response. Certainly none of that is perfect now. But my God, like we've come so far, obviously, there's still a lot of shame in coming forward as a victim of domestic abuse.
But we've had enough people do so in public and shaken the victim stereotype up enough for the people to feel like it's not unspeakable. You know, like this is speakable now, like especially since Mayta and the rise of rise of third wave feminism. There's a lot more avenues to speak your truth about this. It's still nowhere near safe enough for women to leave. We don't as a society grant women their independence. You know, even though we say so, we say, you know, women's equality, this is all in government documents, etc.
But when women want to leave, we don't give them the safety they need to do that. We don't protect them in the way that we should. But absolutely, there are so many more options and I think just so much more awareness. I think Ireland has just recently criminalized coercive control.
You know, I'm not sure there hasn't been a lot of charges. I'm not sure about the implementation there. But what we're seeing across the UK and Ireland is a new wave of awareness that these patterns of behaviours are incredibly dangerous. They they are almost always present before a homicide and that they are just as bad, if not worse for some people than physical violence.
I just thank you so much for chatting to me, really, because there was so much in that and you've explained it. So the book I'll give the book a huge share because I think it's a Wall Street idea. You just got me with the name of it. See what you made me do it in such a clever name for a book. I think a lot of people see that story, too.
I think it will click with them, you know, just all the best. You're not knacker, by the way. You're a very nice lady. You're a nice lady. Yeah. You know, ORCA's and nice ladies can coexist.
I saw your husband just in the background and he poked his head through at one stage and I was like, you say he disappeared. So I don't know, you know.
Now, listen, I really appreciate I really appreciate you chatting through everything with us. I think it's going to be really helpful to people and that there is hope. And that that's important to know that, isn't it?
Absolutely. And thank you for having me on because I really, really appreciate. It's nice. It's my first Irish interview. So, yeah. Now you're a legend. You're a legend. Well, keep flying the flag a million. Thanks. Let's say goodbye to the guys there.
Thanks. Say, John, John, say thanks so much. Thanks a million. Just your brilliance. That's great.
You don't have to live in fear because the alternative let me tell you, it's not living. I swear to you, there are loads of support services around and you're not the first person or the last person who's going to need them. There's nothing to be embarrassed about at all. Whatever country you're in, there's there's support services there. I promise you that in regards to Ireland, you have safe Ireland. Dorothy, you've mansard Ireland's women's aid to the Garda.
Dorothy, you've got to adopt ADAPT, which is the domestic abuse services you have. Sonus, any mandatory Samaritans just reach out and people will be there to help you. I promise you that. I wish you all the best. I hope you all take care of each other and I'll be chatting to you very soon again.
So. So that's it for this week. Good luck in the coming. Oh.