40% Child/Adolescent-to-Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) Unreported

woman in blue shirt talking to a young man in white shirt

MORE THAN 40% of Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) is never reported to the authorities according to a study commissioned by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit.

What is Child/Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (CAPVA)?

Child/adolescent to parent violence and abuse CAPVA) is a term used to described acts of violence perpetrated by minor-, adolescent-, and adult children against their parents or caregivers.

Violence is any act that uses fear, intimidation, threats and/or harm to cause someone to do something against their will, or prevent them from doing something they want to. Violence can be physical and psychological.

Jane Griffiths of Capa First Response CiC explains how it might show up, “For many families it is their children that are using violent and abusive behavior in the home directed at parents or caregivers. Spitting, hitting, name calling, destroying property, threats of violence […] causing parents to ‘tread on eggshells.” 

What does child-to-parent look like?

According to the study, 89% of the recorded incidents show that CAPVA shows up as:

The study also found that 81% of the perpetrators of child-to-parent violence were adolescent boys acting out against their mothers with physical violence.

Fear of stigma stops parents from reporting

The study looked at pre-pandemic data from 2011 to 2020 and found that 40% of the parents and caregivers experiencing CAPVA did not report because they encountered stigma when they reached out for help.

“Parents feel huge shame around this behaviour; they feel judged and blamed for how their child behaves towards them.” explains Jane Griffiths, “It is a hugely isolating issue, with parents feeling unable to talk about what is happening or seek support.” 

Parents and caregivers in this situation require specialized support, which is available through organizations like the PEGS – Parental Education Growth Support program.

How does the UK plan to address the issue?

CAPVA occurs in approximately 1 in 10 British families and experts say the number increased during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London has suggested taking a multi-agency ‘joined-up approach’ to reducing child/adolescent-to-parent abuse.

He explained that the underlying causes for the aggression were often undiagnosed mental health issues, unidentified disabilities, and unidentified special educational needs. Perpetrators of CAPVA may also be acting out in response to trauma such as exposure to domestic violence and others harms.

For in-depth analysis of this report, read How Coercive Control Perpetuates The Cycle of Violence in Families.


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Why It’s So Hard To Prove Coercive or Controlling Behavior

man in green dress shirt holding woman in black dress

IN 2015, A NEW LAW introduced a criminal offence of “controlling or coercive behavior in an intimate or family relationship”. Yet it remains difficult to prove this kind of abuse in court.

freedom of information request made by law firm Simpson Millar found that the new offence was used just 62 times in its first six months between the end of December 2015 and end of June 2016 and, out of 22 police forces in England and Wales, eight have not charged a single person with the offence. This has led to the implementation of a new pilot scheme by the College of Policing to help officers spot the signs of controlling and coercive behaviour.

The new offence looks for “controlling or coercive” behaviour that is engaged in “repeatedly or continuously” by person A and has a “serious effect” on person B. This is either by making them afraid that violence will be used against them, or by causing serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on their usual daily activities.

For traumatized witnesses, the process of giving evidence in court may trigger a traumatic flashback, panic attack or episode of dissociation where the brain becomes foggy, perceptions are distorted and they become confused and disorientated.

Charlotte Bishop, Ph.D.

It’s typical for police investigations into domestic violence cases to face difficulties, and this new offence is no different. The realities of the way evidence and testimony is currently used in court may seriously limit the effectiveness of prosecutions for this offence. 

Recognising Coercive Control

Research conducted by anti-domestic violence campaigner Evan Stark has shown how coercive control, most often perpetrated by a male against his female partner, can be very hard to recognise. This is because it involves micro-regulation of some of the daily activities already commonly associated with women in their “traditional” role as home-makers, mothers and sexual partners.

Given the persistence of such gender-role expectations, it may be difficult to distinguish coercion and control from romantic love. Research has suggested that jealous and possessive behaviours such as restricting what the victim wears, who she sees and where she goes may be interpreted as signs of the abuser’s love and so not recognised as abusive – at least at first. 

A witness is required to provide a coherent account in court, but a traumatic experience commonly cannot be recalled as a cohesive memory due to the impact trauma has on the brain’s memory processes.

Charlotte Bishop, Ph.D.

Unlike in cases of physical violence that can leave external bruising or broken bones, it’s difficult to objectively assess whether coercive control has taken place. The abuser will typically use signals and covert messages to exert and maintain control and often these have meaning only in the context of that particular relationship. For example, the perpetrator may use a specific look, phrase or movement to convey to the victim that they are close to breaking an unspoken “rule”. 

But these signals may be hard to classify as abusive in and of themselves. Compliance with demands about dressing, shopping or cooking in a particular way to avoid repercussions may seem voluntary to an outsider with little or no understanding of the dynamics in the relationship. This makes it very difficult for those involved in the prosecution process to determine, beyond reasonable doubt, that the behaviour was controlling or coercive for purposes of the offence. 

The Crown Prosecution Service has produced guidance on the types of behaviours to look for and how evidence could be gathered in relation to the new offence. These include diaries kept by the victim, text messages and emails, and testimony from friends, family and people living in the area. Yet, these things may not always provide sufficient evidence of the extent of the harm inflicted on the victim. 

Witness Credibility

If a victim of domestic violence appears in court to testify against an abusive partner, this can also create obstacles to successful prosecution. Despite a shift in favour of reliance on evidence other than testimony, such as photographic evidence of the scene or police descriptions of the demeanour of the alleged witness and perpetrator in the immediate aftermath of the incident, oral testimony is still the preferred form of evidence.

But let’s not forgot the trauma these victims have gone through. Any event or set of enduring conditions which overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope can cause psychological trauma. Victims of domestic abuse and coercive control often live in a permanent state of hyper-vigilance where they are constantly trying to do the right thing and second-guess the reactions of an abuser whose expectations may change minute by minute. This results in a continuing state of siege which may cause the victim to experience ongoing symptoms of trauma.

For traumatised witnesses, the process of giving evidence in court may trigger a traumatic flashback, panic attack or episode of dissociation where the brain becomes foggy, perceptions are distorted and they become confused and disorientated. Without information on trauma, the shaking, confusion, disorientation and an inability to maintain eye-contact which often result from these reactions may lead magistrates, judges and the jury to doubt the credibility and veracity of her testimony. The reactions may also be seized upon by the defence barrister and portrayed as suspicious in an attempt to undermine witness credibility. In addition, a witness is required to provide a coherent account in court, but a traumatic experience commonly cannot be recalled as a cohesive memory due to the impact trauma has on the brain’s memory processes. Again, this is likely to affect perceptions of credibility.

In my own research, I’m looking at whether information given to the jury on the possible impacts of trauma on witness testimony would be appropriate to help overcome some of these obstacles. Without appropriate understandings, the impact of trauma may severely undermine perceptions of the credibility and reliability of the witness and so further reduce the likelihood of a conviction.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Conversation and is republished here under Creative Common License.


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Juliette Bryant on Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘Factory’ of Sex Crimes

Juliette Bryant on Jeffrey Epstein's Factory of Sex Crimes

JULIETTE BRYANT DETAILS how Jeffrey Epstein entrapped and exploited her for two years beginning in 2002. In an interview for the BBC2 docu-series, House of Maxwell, Bryant describes how the predator pedophile love bombed her into his notorious sex trafficking scheme. Bryant later filed a lawsuit against the Epstein estate in 2019. 

The “King of America”

Bryant claims that her initial point of contact with the billionaire pedophile was model Naja Hill. In her lawsuit, she alleges that Hill told her she had a friend who was the “King of America” with connections to Victoria’s Secret, who could help Bryant launch her modeling career.

Bryant Describes Epstein’s Love-Bombing Strategy

Bryant claims her first encounter with Epstein took place at a restaurant in Cape Town in 2002. According to the lawsuit, she met Epstein, a “former high-ranking U.S. Government official, a famous actor, and a well-known comedian.” 

New York magazine reports that Epstein visited South Africa in 2002 with actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Chris Tucker, and former US President Bill Clinton. 

Bryant claims that Epstein invited her to attend the former high-ranking politician’s speech the day after their first meeting. She also says Epstein boasted that he was friends with Z-brands impresario Leslie Wesner. She alleges that he instructed her to bring her modeling portfolio to a casting at his hotel after the politician’s speech.

Flattery and Future Faking

At the casting, Bryant claims that the billionaire pedophile flattered her ego, telling her that she “had the most beautiful figure [I have] ever seen in my life.” 

Epstein allegedly announced that he would sponsor Bryant’s work visa and a flight to New York so that she could embark on an international modeling career. 

The promises Bryant is describing are typical of a manipulation tactic called ‘future faking’ commonly used by highly narcissistic people.

“Future faking is when someone uses a detailed vision of the future to facilitate […] bonding and connection.” explains Greg Kushnick, PsyD.

Bryant claims that Epstein went as far as to personally offer reassurances to her mother. According to her lawsuit, Epstein had his assistant organize her trip from South Africa to the United States. 

Bryant Alleges She Was Isolated on Little Saint James

Shortly after she arrived in New York, Bryant alleges that Epstein flew her to his private island Little Saint James. She was led to believe that she was traveling there on a modeling assignment. Instead, her sex trafficking nightmare began.

Bryant recalls that there was a collection of disturbing images decorating the walls of Epstein’s island home, mainly nudes of girls and Ghislaine Maxwell. She also shared a photograph with the BBC showing a disturbing depiction of a giant walrus raping a woman.

This was a foreshadowing of what allegedly awaited Bryant on Little Saint James. The former model describes an incident when she was in Epstein’s private cinema with the billionaire and another girl. Bryant claims she witnessed the other girl performing a sex act on Epstein. She says the experience made her “absolutely petrified” as she had not been exposed to that kind of lewd behavior before.

It was then she says she realized that she was trapped on Little Saint James with no means of escape – a strategy typical of coercive control.

According to Bryant, “I was completely trapped, and there was nothing I could do.”

“He Fed Off The Terror”

Bryant alleges that she was raped by Jeffrey Epstein up to three times a day in his “ice-cold, pitch black” bedroom on Little Saint James.

“He fed off of the terror,” she recalls of the repeated sexual assault she allegedly suffered at the hands of the predator, “There was something about the energy of a girl being scared that he liked.”

She alleges that when Epstein raped her she would dissociate.

‘I just checked out of my body and let him do what he wanted because I didn’t know what else to do,’ Bryant explains, “I tried to escape in my mind, I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.” 

She is describing a trauma response common to victim-survivors of sexual assault. When faced with an existential threat, the defense mechanisms that emerge are fight, flight, freeze or fawn behaviors.

Threats and Intimidation

To silence her, Bryant says that Epstein threatened her and her family. She claims the combination of being repeatedly raped and terrorized by Epstein destroyed her self-esteem, “I was so broken at that point, I just sort of went along with it. I never felt okay again after that, everything just fell to pieces.”

Bryant says that Epstein used intimidation to influence her decisions. He let Bryant know he was accused of rape by another woman and that he’d managed to have his accuser jailed by planting drugs in her apartment.

She recalls the absolute power Epstein wielded in his social circle which convinced her that he would make good on his threats to harm her and her loved ones.

“I just did as I was told,” Bryant explains, “I was petrified of him, who he was. I knew crossing him would be a very bad idea.”

In this way, she says, Epstein was able to coerce her into remaining in his environs. She recalls, “Nobody disobeyed Epstein.”

Describing the climate of fear he cultivated, Bryant says, “It was just like a factory. [Epstein] was running a machine, and Ghislaine Maxwell was the one operating it. Ghislaine was running the girls and would tell us when we needed to go to his bedroom, you couldn’t say no, there was just no option.”

Surviving Jeffrey Epstein

Bryant says the final straw came when Epstein compelled her to fly out to his ranch in New Mexico. There, she alleges, he attempted to traffick her to another “important government official,” and Bryant resisted.

After the incident, Epstein berated her for not being compliant. Finally, an opportunity came for Bryant to return to her South Africa and she seized it. She says she never saw Epstein or anyone in his cabal again but he continued to harass her. In an e-mail as recently as two months before his alleged suicide, Bryant claims the pedophile sent her a leering message ask her to send him nude photos of herself.

“I’m tired of feeling ashamed,” says Bryant of her torment by Epstein, “I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I know other people have had far worse, and that is who I want to speak for, for the people who can’t talk anymore.”

House of Maxwell airs on BBC 2 on April 1 at 9 pm GMT.

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Reproductive Coercion Affects 50% of Women Ages 18-44

crop man covering mouth of woman

A RECENT POLL showed that 50% of women between the ages of 18 and 44 have been targeted for reproductive coercion, in which a person or group influences another person’s right to reproductive freedom and self-determination.

Studies show that women targeted for coercive control and women who have unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be targeted.

There are three main types of reproductive coercion:

  • Pregnancy coercion
  • Birth control sabotage, and 
  • Controlling the outcome of a pregnancy

The practice is also known as coerced reproduction, reproductive control, or reproductive abuse.

The poll, commissioned by BBC News, also showed that:

  • 2/3 women were pressured by a current or former partner or family member not to use contraception. 
  • 1/5 women were forced to have sex without contraception.
  • 1/10 women said their contraception had been intentionally tampered with, hidden, withheld, or deliberately damaged.
  • 1/10 women reported that their partner had removed the condom during sex without their consent.
  • 15% of the women in the survey were pressured to undergo a pregnancy termination against their will.

Forcing women to have sex without a condom turned out to be the most common type of reproductive coercion.

Non-consensual condom removal is a form of sexual assault in which a man removes or sabotages a condom during sex without the consent of his partner. Colloquially known as stealthing the practice has been on the rise in dating culture since 2017. Non-consensual condom removal is classified as rape under UK law and in some US states.

Why Do Men Practice Reproductive Coercion?

Men who practice reproductive coercion tend to be highly narcissistic. It is an act of abusive power and control driven by desire to dominate, manipulate, and dupe their partner to satisfy the perpetrator’s sense of entitlement.

There are online groups that encourage men to practice this insidious form of sexual assault that is ultimately a manifestation of misogyny.


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What Is Coercive Control?

What is Coercive Control?

COERCIVE CONTROL IS AN ACT or a pattern of acts used by one person to harm, punish or frighten another person to secure psycho-emotional dominance. It begins with occasional incidents of strategic aggression that escalate over time to full-scale campaigns of intimate terrorism.

Coercive control was conceptualized by Evan Stark, Ph.D. in his book Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life. Perpetrators of coercive control also harm their children as part of their wider campaign to isolate the primary recipient of the abuse.

Signs of Coercive Control

1. GaslightingThe perpetrator deliberately distorts the victim-survivors’ reality.
2. IsolationThe perpetrator isolates the victim-survivor from family and friends. 
3. Control of Daily LifeThe perpetrator dictates where the victim-survivor can go, see, wear, and eat.
4. Monitoring timeThe perpetrator oversees where the victim-survivor is, where they are going, and what they are doing at all times
5. Put-DownsThe perpetrator may repeatedly tell the victim-survivor that they are worthless or useless, they may publically humiliate the victim-survivor by calling them degrading names or by criticizing their appearance, intelligence, etc.
6. Monitoring CommunicationThe perpetrator may use spyware to track the victim-survivors’ digital communication.
7. Rules and Regulations The perpetrator creates a set of ever changing rules which they enforce by humiliating, degrading, or dehumanizing the victim-survivor.
8. ThreatsThe perpetrator may threaten to hurt or kill the victim-survivor, their child, family members, friends, or pets; they may threaten to take away their child; they may threaten to reveal private information such as intimate photos or revelations about your sexuality.
9. Deprivation of Basic NeedsThe perpetrator restricts the victim-survivors’ access to healthcare and food.
10. Obstruction of EmploymentThe perpetrator may stop the victim-survivor from obtaining employment, going to work, and earning their own money.
11. Financial AbuseThe perpetrator takes control of the victim-survivors’ finances, making sure they have little access to money so that the victim-survivor is dependent on them.
12. Criminal DamageThe perpetrator may damage or destroy the victim-survivors’ personal property.
13. Assault or RapeThe perpetrator may physically abuse, sexually assault, or rape the victim-survivor.

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Domestic violence isn’t about just physical violence – and state laws are beginning to recognize that

Domestic violence isn’t about just physical violence – and state laws are beginning to recognize that | Lisa Aronson Fontes

Three or more U.S. women are murdered every day by their current or former intimate partner. 

That may in part be due to a failure of state laws to capture the full range of behavior that constitutes domestic abuse. The law continues to treat intimate partner violence like a bar fight – considering only what happened in a given incident and not all the prior abuse history, such as intimidation and entrapment. 

Research shows, however, that domestic abuse is not about arguments, short tempers and violent tendencies. It’s about domination and control.

Men who kill their female partners usually dominate them first – sometimes without physical violence. Indeed, for 28% to 33% of victims, the homicide or attempted homicide was the first act of physical violence in the relationship.

Most state laws intended to protect people from violent partners and ex-partners do not account for this kind of behavior, which violence experts now call “coercive control.” Yet coercive control is nearly always at the core of what is usually called “domestic abuse” or “intimate partner violence.” 

Some states are stepping up to incorporate coercive and controlling behavior, not just episodes of violence, into laws that protect victims. These laws make clear: Intimate partner abuse isn’t about just physical violence.

Behind the violence

Typical coercive control tactics include isolating, intimidating, stalking, micromanaging, sexual coercion and often – but not always – physical abuse. 

Abusers inflict these tactics on their partners over time in a variety of ways, ultimately reducing the victim’s ability to live as a free person. Survivors often say that the physical violence was not the worst part.

Forensic social worker Evan Stark’s landmark 2007 book, “Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life,” set the stage for an outpouring of research and legislation on coercive control. Stark changed the conversation from “Why doesn’t she leave?” to “How can anyone survive this intimate torture?” and “How can society protect these victims?” 

The concept has also entered popular culture through podcasts and television shows such as ‘Dirty John’.

I wrote the second book on coercive control, Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship.’ I serve as an expert witness in legal cases in which coercive control might be present, and I research related topics.

Advocates for victims of domestic abuse say that new state legislation on coercive control could substantially change the way domestic abuse is handled by police and the courts. New laws would lead to more prosecutions before the control evolves into physical violence, or even homicide, they say.

And addressing coercive control is important not simply because it will reduce intimate partner homicides; one person should not be able to deny another basic freedom simply because they are married or in a relationship.

Helena Phillibert, director of legal services at the Rockland County New York Center for Safety, said in an interview I conducted: “Legislation against coercive control is critical to broadening the range of abusive behaviors recognized in the law. The advantages to victims and survivors are numerous but most significantly, legislation that recognizes coercive control necessarily expands the understanding of domestic violence beyond physical abuse.” 

Since we know most mass killers are men who have also attacked family members, earlier intervention in domestic abuse may also reduce mass killings, making everyone safer.

States taking lead

In the past half-dozen years, new laws in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe have established “coercive and controlling behavior” as a distinct and serious criminal offense, with maximum sentences extending from five years in prison in England to 15 years in Scotland.

In the U.S., about a half-dozen states now incorporate elements of coercive control into their civil and criminal orders of protection. These are court-issued orders that require a person to stop harassing or abusing someone else, and may bar all contact. 

Another half-dozen new legislative proposals aim to establish and flag coercive control as an important factor in family court decisions on divorce, child custody and visitation.

California law SB-1141, which was passed in 2020, defines coercive control as a pattern of domestic violence that “unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty.” 

The law also recommends against awarding child custody to a person who has perpetrated domestic violence, unless the abuser can prove that he or she is not a risk to a child. 

State Sen. Alex Kasser based Connecticut’s proposed Bill 1091 on California’s but added additional examples of common coercive control tactics. 

Her bill includes “forced sex, sexual threats and threats to release sexualized images” as well as a section on vexatious litigation, which Kasser defines as “how abusers use the legal system to harass their victims, dragging them to court repeatedly to drain their resources and make them lose their jobs, homes, savings and sometimes their children.”

Kasser emphasizes that the Connecticut bill would also protect the children of an abused parent. The bill would establish the physical and emotional safety of the child as the first of 17 factors to be considered in custody decisions. The bill passed the Connecticut Judiciary Committee in April 2021 with bipartisan support and is awaiting further consideration and votes.

The New York State Senate’s proposed Bill 5650 would establish coercive control as a Class E felony, meaning that a person convicted of coercive control could serve up to four years in jail for the crime. This is more in line with the laws in the U.K. and some other European countries. 

While it is still too early to know whether coercive-control laws will predominate in U.S. civil or criminal law, it seems pretty clear that times are changing. I believe victims of coercive-control partner abuse will soon have access to legal protections in many more states across the country. 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at The Conversation and is republished here under Creative Common License.


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Jennifer’s Law Could Bring Coercive Control Legislation to Connecticut

Jennifer's Law | Coercive Control | Domestic Abuse

CONNECTICUT STATE SENATOR ALEX KASSER is sponsoring Jennifer’s Law in honor of Jennifer Dulos in the 2021 Legislative session. The new bill will widen the definition of domestic abuse to include coercive control.

“When women are the victims of abuse, they seek safety for themselves and their children. Often that means staying with the abuser because the danger of leaving is too great,” Sen. Kasser said in a statement about the bill, “But when victims do summon the courage to leave, we have a responsibility to believe and protect them. Too many women have lost their lives just trying to get free. And too many children have become collateral damage in this struggle. It’s time for us to shine a light on DV in all its forms and protect those who need protecting. Women often feel shame and fear when they’re with their abuser and when they leave they are re-traumatized by a society that doesn’t believe them. DV is a public health crisis that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. And oftentimes the signs are invisible.”

What is Coercive Control?

Coercive control is a pattern of acts used by one person to secure emotional, psychological, and financial dominance over another person. It is a distinct form of psycho-emotional abuse that is used as a tool to frighten the recipient into submission.

How Will Jennifer’s Law Help?

Jennifer’s Law will expand and modernize the definition of domestic violence to include Coercive Control in Connecticut state law.

  • The bill will also require coercive control training by professionals with firsthand experience working with domestic abuse survivors.
  • It also seeks to give precedence to child safety when determining custody in family court by making domestic violence assessments a priority.
  • It seeks to furnish victim-survivors seeking a protective order from the Court with legal support.
  • The bill would require judges to recognize victims of domestic abuse and child abuse and provide them with adequate safety and protection.

Jennifer’s Law and Interpersonal Femicide in Connecticut

Jennifer’s Law was created in honor of  Jennifer Dulos, a mother from New Canaan, Connecticut, who is missing and believed to have been murdered by her husband while appealing for protection for herself and her children in family court.

According to Connecticut Protective Moms interpersonal femicide sees approximately 28 cases of femicide and filicide committed every year by perpetrators of coercive control.

Some coercive control murders in Connecticut over the last few years include:

So far, two states in the US have expanded the definition of domestic violence to include coercive control: Hawaii and California. Find out more about which states have coercive control legislation.

References

Photo by Jackson David.


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FKA Twigs Opens Up To Gayle King on CBS This Morning

FKA twigs interview with Gayle King | CBS This Morning

FKA twigs opened up to journalist Gayle King on CBS This Morning about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of actor Shia LaBoeuf. In her first television interview since taking legal action against him in December 2020, the Grammy nominee also took the opportunity to name and define some of the common behaviors of perpetrators of domestic abuse.

With California’s new coercive control legislation in force as of January 1, 2021, twigs’ lawsuit against LaBoeuf may set an important new precedent as California is the second state in the USA to criminalize coercive control.

In the claim she filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, twigs (born Tahliah Debrett Barnett) describes LaBeouf as “a danger to women,” who kept her “in a constant state of fear.”

She describes experiencing an ongoing pattern of abuse in her relationship with LaBoeuf that included verbal, emotional, physical abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically:

  • Non-fatal strangulation
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual battery, and
  • Infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

On February 12, 2021 LaBoeuf’s legal team issued a statement that the actor denies “generally and specifically each and every allegation.”

His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

FKA twigs

FKA twigs is now speaking out in the hope of helping others spot the signs of domestic abuse in intimate relationships and, most importantly, for survivors to know that they are not alone.

Knowledge is Power

Once twigs understood that the harms that were allegedly inflicted on her by LaBoeuf were intentional, she reached out to Sistah Space, a London based service specialized in supporting abuse survivors of African heritage.

She started to learn about the manipulation tactics used by perpetrators of coercive control and developed an awareness about the attitudes that drive these destructive behaviors.

Empowered with new knowledge, twigs was able to escape and begin the healing process.

She shared that, in retrospect, the relationship had red flags from the very start. She described some of them to Gayle King in the interview.

Boundary violation disguised as romantic gestures

“In the beginning he would jump over the fence where I was staying and leave flowers outside my door and poems and books.” twigs told King, “And I thought it was very romantic, but that quickly changed. I understand now that that’s testing your boundaries. But it didn’t stop there, you know. His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

Love bombing and devaluation

She also described her experience of the idealization or love bombing phase of the cycle of abuse to King, as LaBoeuf “putting me on a pedestal, telling me that I was amazing, over the top displays of affection just to knock me off the pedestal, to tell me that I was worthless, to criticize me, to berate me, you know. Pick me apart.”

Learn more about love bombing in our interview with Harvard trained psychotherapist Madelaine Claire Weiss.

Gaslighting

“Abusers use gaslighting,” said twigs, wringing her small hands and taking a deep breath before she continued, “Which is where somebody minimizes your experience. It’s, like, altering your narrative and not listening to you, and denying your experience.”

Battery

“Eventually, it did become physical,” she said softly, dropping her gaze for a instant before lifting her eyes to meet King’s stare, before bravely giving a detailed account of how her relationship with LaBoeuf spiraled into violence.

Summary

There are many important lessons to be learned from FKA twigs about domestic abuse that may dispel the manifold myths that form the loopholes that help perpetrators evade justice. The reality is that because of its systemic nature, domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of financial status, fame, education, or social standing.

Watch Gayle King’s full interview with FKA twigs below.

Watch Gayle King’s interview with FKA twigs


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FKA Twigs’ Coercive Control Allegations Denied by Shia LaBeouf

FKA Twigs Coercive Control

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.

References


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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Ireland’s First Coercive Control Conviction

Ireland's first coercive control conviction

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.”

For more information visit Ireland’s National Police and Security Service.

Cruelty of the most vicious nature

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:

  • Financial abuse
  • Punching
  • 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:

  • Isolation
  • Obstruction of employment
  • Monitoring time
  • Deprivation of basic needs
  • Monitoring communication
  • Taking control of daily life
  • Put-downs
  • Rules and regulations
  • Financial abuse
  • Threats
  • Criminal damage
  • 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.

With the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, Ireland is now  the only country in Europe with definitive coercive control legislation.

“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.

Global Incidence of Domestic Homicide

The systemic nature of coercive control is such that every year 50 000 women are killed by intimate partners or family members.

Men20%
Women80%

Source: UNDOC Homicide Statistics. Page 18.

Resources


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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