FKA Twigs’ describes her former partner Shia LaBeouf as a “danger to women” in the claim filed by her legal team in December 2020. In it, she accuses him of coercive and controlling behavior, including non-fatal strangulation, sexual assault, and battery, and infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.
According to her claim, “LaBeouf kept [Twigs] in a constant state of fear.”
It is a landmark case since California’s new coercive control legislation came into force on January 1, 2021. Last October, California became the second state in the USA to criminalize coercive control.
Shia LaBeouf denies all of FKA Twigs allegations
In their response to the Los Angeles Superior Court, LaBeouf’s lawyers deny “generally and specifically each and every allegation.”
They argue that LaBeouf did not cause harm to Twigs (real name Tahliah Barnett) and requested that the sexual battery allegations be dismissed because “none of the acts alleged were based on sex and/or the conduct was not sexual.”
His team also says that LaBeouf’s “alleged conduct was reasonably necessary for his self-defense and/or safety.” His lawyers are also demanding that the case be dropped and for LaBeouf to be compensated for his legal expenses.
LaBeouf blames alcoholism and PTSD
In a previous response to FKA Twigs’ allegations, LaBeouf told the New York Times:
“Although many of these allegations are not true, I am not in the position to defend any of my actions. I owe these women the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done. As someone in recovery, I have to face almost daily reminders of things I did say and do when I was drinking. I can’t rewrite history, I can only accept it and work to be better in the future. I write this as a sober member of a twelve-step program and in therapy for my many failings. I am not cured of my PTSD and alcoholism, but I am committed to doing what I need to do to recover, and I will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way.”
The actor is currently enrolled in an in-patient rehabilitation program.
Scared, intimidated, controlled
Barnett met LaBeouf when she co-starred in the 2019 drama Honey Boy, a semi-autobiographical film about his childhood and his complicated relationship with his father.
She told journalist Louis Theroux that LaBeouf made her feel, “scared and intimidated and controlled.
Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse. In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org. In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.
Ireland’s first coercive control conviction highlights the importance of active bystanders. Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced 52-year-old Daniel Kane to 10.5 years in prison for coercive control, intimidation, and repeated assaults on his 43-year-old ex-partner. Kane’s campaign of domestic abuse took place over twenty months between 2018 and 2020.
Coercive control is a pattern of acts used by one person to secure emotional, psychological, and financial dominance over another person. It is the most extreme form of domestic abuse in existence. It was criminalized in Ireland in 2018.
Neighbors feared for victim’s life
Kane is the first person in Ireland to receive a coercive control conviction after a trial. Judge Sheahan found that his aggression was unprovoked and motivated by his contempt for the 43-year-old victim.
His daily alcohol-fueled attacks on his partner caused neighbors to fear for her life. Consequently, the police were called to the premises on five different occasions.
One neighbor recalls, “There were genuinely times I thought he was going to kill her — that’s how bad it was. The level of violence and aggression heard inside those walls was very distressing at times, at all hours of the day and night.
“And it wasn’t just normal rows. It was frightening what you would hear, between his aggression and her screams. I called the gardai and reported it to the management company, that’s all you can really do.”
The extent of Kane’s control over his partner terrified her to such an extent that she initially refused to make a complaint leaving the police unable to intervene.
In 2019, emergency medicine consultant Dr. Niamh Collins contacted investigators and expressed fear of a “real and substantial” threat to her life. Armed with medical evidence, police were able to charge Kane.
From victim to survivor
After Kane was charged, the victim felt safe and found the courage to tell her story. Moreover, she was able to provide a detailed victim impact statement about the intimate terrorism he inflicted on her. Yet he continued to threaten her from behind bars. Between March and July 2020, he told her he would send nude videos of her to her family and friends and publish them online if she didn’t withdraw her statement.
In a display of remarkable courage, she went ahead with the case, testifying to the court that she “might be dead or in a vegetative state” if not for the intervention of the doctor and police. She encouraged other victim-survivors to reach out to services like Woman’s Aid and the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support.
Orla O’Connor, the chief executive of the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Chief Superintendent Finbar Murphy at Blanchardstown Garda Station praised the survivor.
Chief Superintendent Murphy said, “This brave woman’s evidence in this investigation was vital.
“This case shows that any victim of domestic abuse shouldn’t suffer in silence — the abuser will convince them the [police] won’t listen but this is wrong.
“We will listen, we will investigate and the fault always lies with the aggressor. The Garda are skilled and experienced to deal with these types of investigations.”
“There are other tools at our disposal such as barring orders and we will continue to use those. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from — it’s against the law for anyone to behave in this appalling fashion. Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.”
The court found that Kane’s coercive and controlling behavior began in earnest once he had isolated his partner from her family and friends.
Judge Sheahan said Kane showed disdain for the victim with totally unprovoked and unpredictable acts of “cruelty of the most vicious nature”, including:
Burning her foot with a cigarette
Cutting her face and neck with a pizza slicer
Stomping on and fracturing her arm
Head-butting when she was recovering from nasal surgery, and
Strangling her, leaving bruises on her throat
He subjected her to humiliation by forcing her to sit naked on a sofa while he ranted verbal abuse at her. Because Kane took all of the victim’s money she could not escape.
A contributing factor to this lengthy coercive control conviction was Judge Sheahan’s disconcerting observation of Kane’s refusal to accept responsibility for the pain he caused – behavior that is typical of dark triad personalities high in narcissistic and anti-social traits.
In addition to his coercive control conviction, Kane was charged with intending to pervert justice for trying to intimate his ex-partner into withdrawing her statement. He pled guilty.
Domestic abuse occurs in the context of coercive control
Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid, underscores the role coercive control plays in domestic abuse relationships. She describes the pattern of abuse as “tactics designed to isolate someone, erode their self-esteem and their sense of self-worth.”
Signs of coercive control include but are not limited to:
Obstruction of employment
Deprivation of basic needs
Taking control of daily life
Rules and regulations
Assault or rape
“It would be true to say that the vast majority of domestic violence and domestic abuse relationships occur in the context of coercive control.” said Ms. Benson, “Criminalizing coercive control is an incredibly important piece of legislation because that is how domestic violence and abuse manifests itself, in a pattern of behavior. To see that recognized and vindicated by a jury is excellent progress.”
A landmark coercive control case
Ireland’s first coercive control conviction demonstrates a departure from the culture of silence in which domestic abuse thrives. It also shows the vital role played by informed bystanders in preventing domestic abuse.
“This is a landmark case in Ireland and we hope that it will encourage many other women living with the terrorizing pattern of coercive control to come forward and to know that they will be believed and understood,” Catríona Gleeson, a spokeswoman for Safe Ireland said, “This case also sends a strong message to abusive men that if they think that it is acceptable to control, isolate, intimidate or degrade a woman, as this man did on a prolonged basis, they will have to stop this behavior or they will be convicted of a very serious crime.”
A gendered crime
While holding space for male survivors and recognizing that it happens to some men, it is important to understand that coercive control is a gendered crime. In other words, the extreme levels of violence and domestic homicide associated are more likely to happen to women.
Forensic social worker Dr. Evan Stark of Rutgers University who first coined the term, explains, “coercive control is a strategic course of oppressive behavior designed to secure and expand gender-based privilege by depriving women of their rights and liberties and establishing a regime of domination in personal life.”
He characterizes coercive control as:
Rational, instrumental behavior and not a loss of control
Ongoing rather than episodic, and
It is based on multiple tactics i.e. violence, intimidation, degradation, isolation, and control.
Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. New York State. Abusive Partners. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse. In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org. In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.
FKA Twigs and Karolyn Pho have filed an explosive joint action complaint against Shia LaBeouf at the Los Angeles Superior Court on December 10, 2020. The document gives a searing account of the catalog of atrocities that both women allegedly experienced at the hands of LaBeouf during their respective relationships with him, including:
Intentional infliction of emotional distress.
FKA Twigs’ Allegations Against Shia LaBeouf
FKA Twigs met LaBeouf on the set of the film Honey Boy and dated him over a nine month period from 2018 to 2019.
In her complaint, the 32-year-old singer and multiple award-winner claims that 34-year-old LaBeouf groomed her with a charm offense before subjecting her to “brutal” and “degrading” treatment, including:
Forcing her to follow an ever-changing rule book, and
Deliberately infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.
Karolyn Pho’s Allegations Against Shia LaBeouf
Karolyn Pho describes Shia LaBeouf’s behavior during their year long relationship as, “jealous, impulsive, and irrational.”
Pho alleges that on one occasion during her relationship with LaBeouf, he climbed on top of her and, “held her down by her arms, causing intense pain and leaving multiple bruises, and then head-butted her violently, causing her to bleed on the hotel bed.”
Pho dated him from 2010 to 2011.
Like Twigs, she alleges that LaBeouf is a perpetrator of abusive power and control.
“Disturbing the peace of the other party” [with] conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other party, as specified.
Coercive control […] is a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty and includes, among other things, unreasonably isolating a victim from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.
According to the new bill, coercive control includes but is not limited to:
Isolating the other party from friends, relatives, or other sources of support.
Depriving the other party of basic necessities.
Controlling, regulating, or monitoring the other party’s movements, communications, daily behavior, finances, economic resources, or access to services.
Compelling the other party by force, threat of force, or intimidation, including threats based on actual or suspected immigration status, to engage in conduct from which the other party has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the other party has a right to engage.
This section does not limit any remedies available under this act or any other provision of law.
The new legislation comes into force in California on January 1, 2021.
Sia Claims She Was Also Abused By Shia LaBeouf
Australian singer Sia tweeted her support of FKA twigs and spoke of her own experience of emotional abuse by Shia LaBeouf:
“I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he is very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself – stay safe, stay away.”
I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he’s very sick and have compassion for him AND his victims. Just know, if you love yourself- stay safe, stay away.
LaBeouf appeared in the 2015 music video for Sia’s song Elastic Heart, which featured on her album Girls Of Pop, alongside Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler.
On December 13, 2020, FKA Twigs responded to Sia on Twitter:
“I’m sorry @sia this reinforces why I had to publicly share my experience. We need to support each other <3”
Update: Sia later shared in an interview with the Sunday Times that LaBeouf was surreptitiously dating her and FKA Twigs at the same time.
“It turns out he was using the same lines on me and Twigsy, and eventually we found out because we ended up talking to one another. Both of us thought we were singly dating him. But that wasn’t the case. And he was still married.”
Sia had previously cast LaBeouf in the role of an alcoholic father in the video of her 2015 hit single Elastic Heart.
A History of Abusive Behavior
Shia LaBeouf has been accused of violent behavior in the past. He has been arrested several times for drunk and disorderly behavior, and most recently in September 2020 for theft.
In 2017, LaBeouf pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction after he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication in Georgia.
In 2015, he was involved in a dispute with his then-wife, Mia Goth, in Germany and reportedly told his friends, “I don’t want to touch a woman, I don’t want to hit a woman, but I’m getting pushed,” He also told a local, “If I’d have stayed there, I would have killed her.” He was no charged after this incident.
He has previously issued manifold apologies for his behavior, which he attributes to his battle with substance dependency.
Narcissistic personality definition is exquisitely distilled into a simple explanation by Dr. Craig Malkin as, “an addiction to feeling special.”
Dr. Malkin is a clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School. He is also the author of the book Rethinking Narcissism. Decades of clinical experience, research, and distinguished analysis have made him a world-renowned expert on the topic.
Indeed, it is useful to conceptualize narcissism in succinct terms because it encourages us to take the next step to a greater understanding and a clear definition of narcissistic personality disorder. This is important because many people experience prolonged interactions with pathological narcissists as relationships of inevitable harm.
Possessing a grandiose sense of self. In order words, narcissists boast of exaggerated accomplishments and expect to be viewed as superior without commensurate achievements.
Preoccupation with fantasies of limitless power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
The belief that they are special and should only be associated with other special or high-status individuals.
A need for excessive admiration.
A sense of entitlement.
Lack of empathy.
Envy of others and a belief that others envy them.
Arrogance and haughtiness.
How narcissists groom people for exploitation
In the idealization or love bombing phase of the cycle of narcissistic abuse, narcissists have an uncanny ability to disguise themselves as your soulmate.
It is a bit like being caught in the high beam of an oncoming vehicle on a dark night. Idealization is the first instance of gaslighting in the cycle of narcissistic abuse. It distorts your vision. The euphoria of the love bombing is designed to override your instincts.
A love bombing narcissist tends to have an uncanny ability to identify the places in the human spirit that are unnourished. They know that a hungry heart is willing to sacrifice a lot to experience satiety.
Manya Wakefield: In your opinion, what are the most important things to know about narcissistic personality disorder?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: When we talk about narcissistic personality disorder, we are talking about specific patterns of repetitive behavior that are destructive to self and destructive to the well-being of others. It is a mental condition that presents as:
an inflated sense of importance,
a craving for excessive attention and admiration,
and low empathy for others.
Manya Wakefield: Can you describe why people targeted by narcissists may have a blindspot for the manipulation taking place in the early stages of the relationship?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: It starts deliciously! You are certain the universe put this person on this planet just for you. This is the one you have been waiting for forever, who finally gets you like never before.
Manya Wakefield: How do narcissists ingratiate themselves with their targets.
Madelaine Claire Weiss: The narcissist lures and lands the giver of narcissistic supplies with incredible charm.
Narcissists seek supply to stabilize a fragile self
Manya Wakefield: Can you describe how narcissists extract ego boosts or narcissistic supply from the people they target?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Narcissistic supplies can include attention, admiration, approval, adoration, and other forms of sustenance essential for the narcissist to stabilize the fragile self and fill up the emptiness inside.
Manya Wakefield: Most survivors are radiant people. What makes someone bright and talented susceptible to the manipulation of a narcissist?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: There may be gifts, endless compliments, so many calls and texts, so much gorgeous attention, that you have no reason not to believe this person isn’t crazy about you. You have finally found your soulmate, and nothing will ever take you apart.
Manya Wakefield: How can someone tell if they are experiencing narcissistic abuse?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: It starts to hurt. Little by little, this person invades your life until it shrinks so small you can’t even find yourself in it, let alone the family, friends, outside activities, and interests you used to enjoy.
The aftermath of narcissistic abuse
Manya Wakefield: What is the most harmful aspect of narcissistic abuse?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Narcissistic abuse becomes a physiological peptide addiction – an addiction that must be broken.
Manya Wakefield: What is your best advice to someone caught in the grip of narcissistic abuse, who is essentially battling an addiction?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Break the addiction in the best way you can. There are techniques for this. Good health and happiness are waiting for you on the other side.
Manya Wakefield: After narcissistic abuse, people tend to blame themselves. What do you think is the most important thing for them to understand about what happened to them?
Manya Wakefield: Is there an empowering central lesson survivors of narcissistic abuse can take away from their experience?
Madelaine Claire Weiss: Know this: the charming narcissist doesn’t target just anyone. Typically, you have to be pretty amazing in some way that the narcissist is not, to make the narcissist look and feel good. So go ahead and be flattered, but know this, too.
Knowing how to answer your child’s questions about a narcissistic parent is essential to their healthy development and wellbeing.
The reason for this is that narcissistic abuse commonly falls under the umbrella of domestic abuse in families. Raising children in an environment where domestic abuse is normalized can seriously impact their physical and emotional functioning.
By witnessing abuse, they may be quietly conditioned and even encouraged to use the same power and control tactics in interpersonal relationships as their abusive parent.
How exposure to narcissistic abuse can impact children
Witnessing or experiencing abuse in infancy and early childhood can produce elevated levels of emotional stress, which in turn can damage a child’s cognitive and sensory development. This can lead to a reduced ability to concentrate and result in poor academic performance from the child.
Children exposed to abuse in the home may experience difficulties distinguishing right from wrong, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and suicidal ideation.
Research also shows that children from families where abuse is normalized risk perpetuating the cycle of abuse by falling into and repeating the familiar roles of victim or abuser.
Helping your child navigate the narcissist’s gaslit reality
It is imperative for parents who are raising children with narcissists to be able to answer their child’s questions in a way that validates the child’s experience and edifies their level of self-trust.
N.B. This interview aims to inform, enlighten, and provide
accurate general information on the topic of narcissism. It does not provide medical, psychological, or other professional services. If you determine that you need professional assistance, please seek the relevant specialist advice before taking or refraining from any action based on information in this interview. Thank you.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What is the best way to answer my child’s questions when they are at an age when politician style answers won’t cut it anymore? This kind of speaks to what we were talking about before, about the gaslit reality children of narcissists find themselves in.
Dr. Michael Kinsey: Yes and kids are such good BS detectors even from a young age. One of the amazing things about our brains and how we are wired is simply that we can decode – maybe not consciously – but we can decode guarded answers from free, authentic ones. We can tease these things apart with great precision. I suppose any parent really knows, whether you are involved with a narcissist or not, that kids don’t buy politician style answers.
The best advice I can give is something that I mentioned earlier which is that you really have to understand in a compellingly authentic way why the narcissistic person acts the way they do. That might be hard to hear and it might sound like you’re doing the work of condoning their behavior. It’s important that I say that’s not the case. You can understand something without condoning it.
The more you are able to understand it the more clearly it brings in to relief why it doesn’t work or why it’s dysfunctional or why it shouldn’t be the way it is.
You know for a lot of narcissistic people that explanation could be something like, “Your father or your mother had this experience growing up. What’s closer to the truth is they are feeling vulnerable, sad, disappointed, hurt, other way. It would be much better for all of us if it happened differently but this is the way it is. And there’s a lot of people you’ll run into in life who act this way because it’s very, very hard to feel sad, hurt, humiliated, etcetera.”
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: It’s interesting because many of the people who get targeted for this kind of abuse are highly empathic and the way you describe this particular course of action allows people to use their empathy to push through is I think that it’s an interesting, solid way to go forward.
Dr. Michael Kinsey: Keep in mind that this is a totally different strategy than you would use with the narcissistic person. Once a relationship has gotten to a point where it’s beyond repair, you can speak respectfully and assertively without needing to empathize or condone their behavior whatsoever.
But when you’re talking about children, you need to understand that you cannot pit yourself against a child’s love for their mother or father. You will not be well received and you’re putting yourself and your relationship with your child at great risk but trying to, in some ways, stand in between them and one of their parents. Because children always love their parents even if it’s unhealthy in many ways.
So when you’re dealing with your kids you really have to be respectful of that love that they have for them. Acknowledge the shortcomings, but also make it okay for that child to maintain some sense of loving connection to them and not make it a sort of zero sum game where it’s either him or me or it’s either her or me.
Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Right, by giving the children these sort of impossible choices.
Osofsky, Joy D., ‘The Impact of Violence on Children’, The Future of Children – Domestic Violence and Children, Vol. 9, no. 3, 1999; Koenen, K.C., et al., ‘Domestic Violence is Associated with Environmental Suppression of IQ in Young Children’, Development and Psychopathology, Vol. 15, 2003, pp. 297-311; Perry, B.D. ‘The neurodevelopmental impact of violence in childhood’, Chapter 18 in: Textbook of Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry, (Eds., D. Schetky and E.P. Benedek) American Psychiatric Press, Inc., Washington, D.C. pp. 221-238, 2001; James, M., ‘Domestic Violence as a Form of Child Abuse: Identification and Prevention’, Issues in Child Abuse Prevention, 1994.
Baldry, A.C., ‘Bullying in Schools and Exposure to DV’, Child Abuse and Neglect, vol. 27, no. 7, 2003, pp. 713-732; Fantuzzo John W. and Wanda K. Mohr, ‘Prevalence and Effects of Child Exposure to Domestic Violence’, The Future of Children – Domestic Violence and Children, vol. 9, no. 3, 1999.
Fantuzzo John W. and Wanda K. Mohr, ‘Prevalence and Effects of Child Exposure to Domestic Violence’, The Future of Children – Domestic Violence and Children, vol. 9, no. 3, 1999; Kernic, M.A. et al., ‘Behavioral Problems among Children whose Mothers are Abused by an Intimate Partner’, Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 27, no. 11, 2003, pp. 1231-1246.
Coercive control legislation is a cutting edge tool for law enforcement in domestic abuse prevention. Research has shown that coercive control (also known as intimate terrorism) is the high risk marker for domestic homicide, specifically femicide, filicide, and familicide.
More countries around the world are recognizing that to end the scourge of domestic homicide coercive control must be criminalized.
Please consider taking action in your country by reaching out to your local representatives, informing them about coercive control, and asking for this lifesaving legislation.
Central African Republic
Sao Tome and Principe
United Arab Emirates
New South Wales
In development as of February 19, 2020
Although 39 European states have signed the Istanbul Convention, only twenty one (21) have ratified it and only six (6) states are in compliance with Article 33: Psychological Violence: “Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the intentional conduct of seriously impairing a person’s psychological integrity through coercion or threats is criminalized.”
Ireland alone has passed legislation using the term coercive control.
In Bill C-247, Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Randall Garrison is proposing an amendment to Canada’s Criminal Code “to create an offense of engaging in controlling or coercive conduct that has a significant impact on the person towards whom the conduct is directed, including a fear of violence, a decline in their physical or mental health and a substantial adverse effect on their day-to-day activities.”
Hosted by journalist Ellie Flynn, the group of young people view the story ofAlex and Rachel over two days. The story unfolds in 6 parts and ends with an accusation of coercive control.
What is coercive control?
Coercive control describes a pattern of behaviour by an abuser to harm, punish or frighten their victim.
Coercive control was criminalized in England in 2015.
Over the last 18 months, coercive control has hit the headlines following the re-trial of Sally Challen over the killing of her husband.
In Hawaii the definition of domestic violence was expanded to include coercive control and on September 15, 2020 and in California coercive control was added to the Family Code on September 29, 2020.
During the coronavirus pandemic, called to the UK’s National Domestic Violence helpline rose by 49% percent and incidents of intimate partner homicide rose by 50%.
Different perceptions of coercive control
After viewing the story of Alex and Rachel, the group are asked if they can identify any signs of coercive control and vote on whether the behavior they are watching fits the crimes.
To some members of the group, the behavior the witness in the story of Alex and Rachel seems typical of any relationship but other participants think it crosses the line.
Do any members of the group have a good enough grasp on what coercive control is that they can to spot criminal behavior?
The program found that 70% of participants weren’t able to spot the red flags of coercive control.
After viewing and discussing each segment of Alex and Rachel’s story, barrister Clare Ciborowska, analyses the film the group has viewed and explains what coercive control is according to the law. She also answers questions from the participants.
Recovery in the time of Covid-19 can be challenging. Let’s face it, this has been a year like no other. 2020 has challenged every person I know in ways that were simply unimaginable before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Uncertainty, restrictions, and fear have impacted our mental and physical wellbeing.
In the time of Covid-19, simple tasks like going to the shops, throwing away the trash, or taking a long walk can cause anxiety and strike a chord of fear in us as we try to guard our health while avoiding a virus some experts say is airborne.
I live in a country that is an outlier in that it’s coronavirus strategy is to remain open and not lockdown. The government has left precautionary measures largely to the devices of people at the local level. Initially, there was a lot of criticism as the death toll soared until, at one point, it was the highest in Europe. However, over time some have come to view this relaxed strategy as a success.
Unique health challenges for survivors of narcissistic abuse
All over the world, survivors of narcissistic abuse are facing unique challenges in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of us are still in relationships with the perpetrator and the health crisis may have made escape more difficult or even impossible at this time. Others have gotten out of the relationship with the narcissist and must navigate recovery in the midst of a pandemic that has transformed our ability to socialize, earn a living, and care for ourselves.
Many survivors of narcissistic abuse have a tendency to put the needs of others ahead of our own. For some of us, this is the residue of childhood conditioning in which we learned that the practice of extreme selflessness was a virtue. For others, it is part of the ever-changing rule book we were coerced in to obeying in a relationship with an abusive partner. Either way, the reality is that self-sacrificing behavior can cause serious harm to our wellbeing.
Part of building healthy boundaries is recognizing that we matter, our needs are important, and getting our needs met first should be our main priority. Part of our recovery is embracing the fact that if we do not take care of ourselves first, we will fail in our efforts to take care of others.
This is especially true when it comes to looking after our health.
Re-grouping after disrupted self-care routines
Even though many years have passed since I lived in a narcissist matrix, I am still managing a chronic illness. I developed asthma in adulthood, which may be due in some part to long term exposure to narcissistic abuse.
As a child, I was a fiery ball of energy and fit as a fiddle. Today, I must be selective about what I eat and which cardiovascular exercises I engage in because of my condition. Few things can slow you down like an asthma attack.
Covid-19 has meant long stretches of self-isolation for me. Initially, I devoted myself to baking and trying out new recipes which was incredibly fun!
But over time I found myself struggling to adjust to the new habits I was forming. I started having asthma attacks daily, my energy levels were dropping and I was becoming a lot less productive.
With this realization, my goals have shifted and now my focus is on achieving optimum health.
Small consistent wins can be transformative
My strategy is to start the day by taking care of myself first. This means nourishing my body with high quality foods that fills me with energy.
Everyone is different and what works best for me in terms of generating energy is a vegan diet.
I start the day with a cup of black coffee. Black coffee is great as it tends to kick start my metabolism.
If the weather is warm, I’ll make a smoothie but if it’s cool, I’ll use the same ingredients to cook high protein oatmeal:
1 dl oats
A handful of blueberries
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds or hemp powder
I choose this meal because it’s a bit like a wet log that is easy for my body to burn but will still power me through the morning until my first snack: crisp bread with lots of sliced tomato or cucumber.
My next priority is making sure my surroundings are clean and organized which is a bit of a warm up for the thirty minutes of cardio I do to get the ball rolling before I start work.
Simple, small changes done with consistency can lead to transformative results over time. I’m sharing this example of self-care because these are things many people can do, whether you are still in a relationship with a narcissist or if you have managed to escape.
Tell me, how have you been managing your recovery during the corona virus pandemic? Please share what works best for you in the comment section below.
On September 15, 2020, Hawaii became the first US state to adopt legislation against Coercive Control. Governor David Ige signed into law a historic amendment expanding the definition of domestic abuse to include “Coercive Control between family or household members for the purposes of insurance and protective orders.”
Coercive Control is the first step in domestic violence
Rep. David A. Tarnas introduced House Bill 2425, which expands the concept of domestic violence to include Coercive Control.
“HB2425 adds Coercive Control to the definition of domestic abuse. It is a useful term to help strengthen our statutory basis for preventing domestic violence”, Rep. Tarnas said at the bill signing. “We need to address domestic violence because it is pervasive in our community. It is even worse now because of the economic impact fo the COVID pandemic.”
Coercive Control is the first step in domestic violence. If we can identify it and stop it there, we can save lives.
Rep. David A. Tarnas
Rep. Tarnas described how he learned about Coercive Control through the advocacy of two constituents. “Officer May Lee in Waimea, first introduced me to this whole concept and educated me about how Coercive Control is the first step in domestic violence. If we can identify it and stop it there, we can save lives.”
The bill was inspired by Scotland’s domestic abuse prevention program, widely praised as the most cutting edge in the world.
“I want to acknowledge another constituent, Barbara Gerbert, [professor emeritus and chair of the Division of Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco] who has been working in domestic violence prevention research for years”, said Rep. Tarnas. “She was the first person to tell me about Scotland, where they incorporated Coercive Control into their statutes. It has shown to be very effective over time at reducing the incidence of domestic [abuse] cases that escalated into violence. They feel that it did prevent homicides from happening in an area where they had significant problems.”
Superintendent Gordon McCreadie, the former national lead for domestic abuse for Police Scotland, was delighted by news of Hawaii’s new Coercive Control Bill.
“When appointed in 2017, I never imagined that Police Scotland and partners including Medics Against Violence would influence legislative change in Hawaii on coercive control.”
Under the leadership of Superintendent McCreadie, 25,000 police officers were educated about domestic violence and coercive control in Scotland.
The groundwork for Hawaii’s Coercive Control bill
Through her extensive domestic abuse research, Professor Gerbert is a key figure in the advancement of the understanding Coercive Control in Scotland today.
Professor Gerbert explains, “In my research at the University of California, San Francisco, I developed a model of steps people could use to reduce domestic violence. AVDR: Ask Validate Document and Refer. My goal was to support and simplify what law enforcement, health care professionals, veterinarians, etc., could do.”
“In 2009, the newly formed Violence Reduction Unit in Scotland asked me if they could use my AVDR model,” says Professor Gerbert, “Scotland had a very high rate of all types of violence. In 10 years violence rates have decreased dramatically.”
In 2017, the short film Harderwasproduced as part of the training program. The clip illustrated some of the red flags of domestic abuse, specifically the omnipotence aspect of Coercive Control and what professionals can do when they spot it.
After many years of tireless research and advocacy, a broader understanding of non-physical abuse was achieved, pinpointing coercive and controlling behavior as well as ways that members of the community and law enforcement could intervene.
If you would like to see the definition of domestic abuse expanded to include Coercive Control in your state, reach out to your local representative. Write and tell them about the historic Coercive Control Bill in Hawaii and how you think it could benefit your state.
Coercive Control FAQ
What is criminal coercive behavior?
Coercive behavior is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
What is criminal controlling behavior?
Controlling behavior is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behavior.
Are there coercive control laws in the United States?
“I thank Governor Newsom for signing this bill. My hope is that it empowers victims to come forward, and it becomes something that our society understands and recognizes as domestic violence,” said Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). “I’m grateful to be at the forefront of such groundbreaking domestic violence policy, and I look forward to working with my partners and allies to spread coercive control legislation across the nation.”
What is Senate Bill 1141 Domestic Violence: Coercive Control?
The new bill is an amendment to California’s existing Family Code for domestic violence prevention. Formally known as Senate Bill 1141 Domestic Violence: Coercive Control, it allows survivors to include incidents of coercive and controlling behavior as supporting evidence in family court hearings and criminal trials.
“This legislation will help empower survivors of crime and abuse to speak out against their abusers and provide them more time to seek justice,” said Governor Newsom. “California is committed to protecting survivors and supporting them and the organizations that provide them with essential services, especially during this challenging time.”
“SB 1141 advances the rights of domestic violence victims under state law,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “My office was proud to sponsor the legislation, and I thank the Governor for signing the bill.”
How does California Define Coercive Control?
This bill defines coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty,” and recognizes it as a regime of oppression that includes isolating the recipient of the abuse from their support system, threats, and harassment.
The bill also defines coercive control as “disturbing the peace of the other party” and highlights that the coercive and controlling behavior “destroys the mental or emotional calm of another person.”
incidents of coercive control can be used as evidence of domestic violence when arranging child custody in family court. Custody of children will not be awarded to a parent who is proven to be a perpetrator or coercive control campaign against a current or former partner or spouse.
How will coercive control perpetrators be held accountable?
California’s new coercive control bill authorizes the court to issue ex parte orders to stop perpetrators of coercive control from abusing their current or former partner or spouse. Violation of the court order will constitute contempt of court and be punishable as a misdemeanor.
Under California law, a misdemeanor is a crime that is less serious than a felony and includes such offenses as driving while under the influence (DUI) and shoplifting.
The new legislation comes into force on January 1, 2021.
Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse. In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org. In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.
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