Last year I was looking for volunteering for Women’s Aid – it was a time I believed I was passionate about women’s issues. I no longer limit myself to that, neither do I believe these are so-called women’s issues, and not anyone else’s problems. Domestic violence affects our societies as a whole, and a myth that “it can never happen to me” does not hold water.
At the time I completed The Freedom Programme, which is an online training course developed by Pat Craven, and should be used alongside his book Living With the Dominator. The Freedom Programme, and main developed views on domestic violence, emphasise that it is all about power and control. The behaviour of the dominator is based upon his beliefs, which drive his/her behaviour, but that these beliefs contradict each other, which is known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. As most abusers are men, I refer to the dominator or perpetrator here as males. The Freedom Programme distinguishes between eight types of dominators/perpetrators:
- The Sexual Controller: rapes you, won’t accept no for an answer, keeps you pregnant, rejects your advances. The Sexual Controller uses sex to control us, uses persuasion, making us feel guilty, says we are frigid or lesbian. He gets us drunk and gives us drugs, uses bribery and intimidation, shouts, uses violence, rapes us. We must be sexually perfect (not breastfeeding and give birth naturally), is unfaithful. The intention of the Sexual Controller is to “defeat the enemy”, to destroy us. He believes sex is woman’s only value. He hates us, believes we are not humans and are just vaginas on legs. Early relationship warnings signs: moves too quickly, not communicating during sex, doesn’t care about contraception, refuses condoms, gropes us in public.
- King of The Castle: treats us as a servant or slave, says women are for sex, cooking and housework, expects sex on demand, controls all the money of the household. He uses male privilege to control women. Media reinforces this by using women to advertise cleaning products etc. When the dominator feels that his tactics fail, he will then use violence. Early King of the Castle: tries to choose our clothes, moves in too soon, leaves things at our house, gradually manipulates us into doing all the household tasks.
- The Badfather: says you are a bad mother, turns the children against you, uses access to harass you, threatens to take the children away, persuades you to have “his” baby and then refuses to help you care for it. Women are 3 times more likely to be injured when pregnant, as they are more vulnerable and more dependent and perpetrators think they can get away with it. Badfather uses children to control and abuse women. He turns the children against us, calls us names, buys children’s affection with expensive gifts. He believes that only he has rights and his rights matter. Women and children have no rights, men own us. He believes violence does not affect children and what goes on in a man’s home is no one else’s business. Most violence occurs either in the bedroom or when food is served. Children may come to associate food with tension and fear, developing eating orders. He believes women are only good for CFC – cooking, fucking & cleaning. Early Badfather: doesn’t have contact with his own kids, tries to make himself indispensable (financial support, practical help & treats), once established, slowly will dispense discipline.
- The Liar: denies any abuse, says it was “only a slap”, blames drink, drugs, stress, over-work, you, unemployment etc. Mostly we don’t know what the “rules of the game” are and he changes them all the time. When we break the rules, the dominators whole view of the world is challenged, he feels panic, powerlessness and outrage. The Liar uses minimization (“it was only a slap”, “we were only playful”). He blames every one thing, but himself. Women are confused and use the excuses of the Liar, it’s because they are the only explanation we have. He achieves the state of manufactured outrage, but is never angry – he is fully in control. Early liar: may lie about an ex, accepts no responsibility.
- The Persuader: threatens to hurt or kill you, the children or himself, cries, says he loves you, threatens to report you to social services, benefits agency etc. He believes women are men’s possessions. Women are responsible for men’s wellbeing and for men’s behaviour – he does not take responsibility for his own behaviour (also like the Liar). He believes “real men should never allow women to leave!”. Early persuader: tries to make us feel sorry for him, persuades us to do something we don’t want to.
- The Headworker: puts you down, tells you you’re too fat, too thin, ugly, stupid, useless etc. Uses emotional abuse, makes you feel stupid, useless and worthless. Fond of using humour to achieve this, makes jokes in front of others, corrects our use of language or content. He doesn’t use our name, uses babe, princess, she, wife, slag, bitch etc. He may have an insulting pet name (little pig). He makes us feel ugly. He is unfaithful, he believes we are stupid. He is not abusive – “we need a man to take care of us, we should be subservient”. He does not like women. He thinks we exist to be used by men, we are dirty, pieces of meat and men own us. He hates the colour pink! Early Headworker: tells racist, sexist, homophobic jokes, he does not use our name, uses humour to put us down in front of others, patronising, uses mind-games.
- The Jailer: stops you from working and seeing friends, tells you what to wear, keeps you in the house, takes your car keys, wallet, bank cards etc, seduces your friends/family. He uses isolation to control us. Early Jailer: dropping us off and collecting, comes on too strong, wants to see us every day, asks who with and where we’ve been, doesn’t want to socialise with our friends.
- The Bully: glares, shouts, smashes things, sulks. The Bully is making an effort to use a sophisticated array of tactics. He is thinking clearly and is completely in control of his emotions – he is NOT therefore angry! He believes his behaviour is normal, he knows it’s okay to bully to get his way, and knows that it works. “Real men are tough and he is being manly”. To him women are like pets and need controlling and protecting, they need to be kept in order, trained, women are inferior in every way (because men are physically stronger). Early Bully: quiet, sulking, may stare, glare, smile, may be aggressive with others, watch his body language, he won’t let go of the little things or when we disagree with him, he says “I would never hit a woman!”.
If he wishes to change his behaviour, he needs to change his beliefs about women. He needs to change “the rules of the game”.
Some of his beliefs have been acquired from childhood (but not always), he may have been bullied in school. Victim blaming reinforces the dominator’s belief that women make men hit them, society’s norms and cultural aspects – violence is everywhere (also in entertainment – sports, boxing), computer games, religious institutions (women can’t be priests). Social media is infested with images and references to women as pretty-little-things, sexual references and male domination.
Most abusers are still men. How are women affected by living in a society which holds these beliefs?
Women’s rights campaigners have forever been fighting for stronger protection orders, better enforcement, witness protection schemes, more campaigns, support and information via GPs, hospitals, in bus stops, libraries, national helplines, more shelters, and always – more funding.
Note that at the start of this blog, I did not warn you about strong language contained herein. It is because even though there is so much shame in the lives of the victims of domestic violence (and this suits perpetrators well), the shame should sit with the abusers. If they can do it, we can name it, and you better know about it ~ Janeism.
“You did not have your Freedom Eyes before, but you will see clearly in the future”!
If you felt affected by this post, please refer to www.freedomprogramme.co.uk for more information, or contact Women’s Aid on www.womensaid.ie / ph: 1800 341900 for further support. Mind yourself and others.