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Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life

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Despite its great achievements, the domestic violence revolution is stalled, Evan Stark argues, a provocative conclusion he documents by showing that interventions have failed to improve womens long-term safety in relationships or to hold perpetrators accountable. Stark traces this failure to a startling paradox, that the singular focus on violence against women masks an e Despite its great achievements, the domestic violence revolution is stalled, Evan Stark argues, a provocative conclusion he documents by showing that interventions have failed to improve womens long-term safety in relationships or to hold perpetrators accountable. Stark traces this failure to a startling paradox, that the singular focus on violence against women masks an even more devastating reality. In millions of abusive relationships, men use a largely unidentified form of subjugation that more closely resembles kidnapping or indentured servitude than assault. He calls this pattern coercive control. Drawing on sources that range from FBI statistics and film to dozens of actual cases from his thirty years of experience as an award-winning researcher, advocate, and forensic expert, Stark shows in terrifying detail how men can use coercive control to extend their dominance over time and through social space in ways that subvert women's autonomy, isolate them, and infiltrate the most intimate corners of their lives. Against this backdrop, Stark analyzes the cases of three women tried for crimes committed in the context of abuse, showing that their reactions are only intelligible when they are reframed as victims of coercive control rather than as battered wives. The story of physical and sexual violence against women has been told often. But this is the first book to show that most abused women who seek help do so because their rights and liberties have been jeopardized, not because they have been injured. The coercive control model Stark develops resolves three of the most perplexing challenges posed by abuse: why these relationships endure, why abused women develop a profile of problems seen among no other group of assault victims, and why the legal system has failed to win them justice. Elevating coercive control from a second-class misdemeanor to a human rights violation, Stark explains why law, policy, and advocacy must shift its focus to emphasize how coercive control jeopardizes women's freedom in everyday life. Fiercely argued and eminently readable, Stark's work is certain to breathe new life into the domestic violence revolution.


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Despite its great achievements, the domestic violence revolution is stalled, Evan Stark argues, a provocative conclusion he documents by showing that interventions have failed to improve womens long-term safety in relationships or to hold perpetrators accountable. Stark traces this failure to a startling paradox, that the singular focus on violence against women masks an e Despite its great achievements, the domestic violence revolution is stalled, Evan Stark argues, a provocative conclusion he documents by showing that interventions have failed to improve womens long-term safety in relationships or to hold perpetrators accountable. Stark traces this failure to a startling paradox, that the singular focus on violence against women masks an even more devastating reality. In millions of abusive relationships, men use a largely unidentified form of subjugation that more closely resembles kidnapping or indentured servitude than assault. He calls this pattern coercive control. Drawing on sources that range from FBI statistics and film to dozens of actual cases from his thirty years of experience as an award-winning researcher, advocate, and forensic expert, Stark shows in terrifying detail how men can use coercive control to extend their dominance over time and through social space in ways that subvert women's autonomy, isolate them, and infiltrate the most intimate corners of their lives. Against this backdrop, Stark analyzes the cases of three women tried for crimes committed in the context of abuse, showing that their reactions are only intelligible when they are reframed as victims of coercive control rather than as battered wives. The story of physical and sexual violence against women has been told often. But this is the first book to show that most abused women who seek help do so because their rights and liberties have been jeopardized, not because they have been injured. The coercive control model Stark develops resolves three of the most perplexing challenges posed by abuse: why these relationships endure, why abused women develop a profile of problems seen among no other group of assault victims, and why the legal system has failed to win them justice. Elevating coercive control from a second-class misdemeanor to a human rights violation, Stark explains why law, policy, and advocacy must shift its focus to emphasize how coercive control jeopardizes women's freedom in everyday life. Fiercely argued and eminently readable, Stark's work is certain to breathe new life into the domestic violence revolution.

51 review for Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This is a hefty, densely written and well-argued tome that is certainly not a light read. Coercive control is a theory developed by Evan Stark and others as an alternative to and development of more traditional domestic violence models. The book gives a detailed account of the history of domestic violence and the legal system. It is primarily directed at the US, although there is reference to some European countries as well, especially the UK. The traditional model of domestic violence focussed o This is a hefty, densely written and well-argued tome that is certainly not a light read. Coercive control is a theory developed by Evan Stark and others as an alternative to and development of more traditional domestic violence models. The book gives a detailed account of the history of domestic violence and the legal system. It is primarily directed at the US, although there is reference to some European countries as well, especially the UK. The traditional model of domestic violence focussed on isolated acts of violence as the way power is used and sees serious acts of violence as the most important. The theory of coercive control covers a whole series of behaviours, including violence. It covers coercion meant to harm and intimidate, but also behaviour meant to isolate and regulate and to induce shame and embarrassment, helping to keep the abuse secret. Controlling day to day life, access to family, food, money and time. Behaviours like:  Threats and intimidation  Isolating/destroying the partner’s outside relationships in the workplace, as well as from friends and family (including restricting normal social activity – shopping, medical appointments, Parent/Teacher events – the list is not exhaustive)  Controlling access to information and services  Stalking, whether actual or remote via surveillance  Unwanted face-to-face, telephone or electronic contact  ‘Where are you now’ and ‘take a picture and prove where you are now’  Monitoring of telephone calls  Dress ‘codes’ and ‘rules’  Forcing/restricting the consumption of food  Hacking  Creating a series of infractions of ‘rules’, whether actual or imaginary, requiring the ‘punishment’ of the partner and/or the children  Economic control and/or exploitation  Sexual abuse/violence, to include unwanted pregnancy  Constant monitoring of movement and criticism  Emotional hostage-taking  The causing of fear and confusion There are many more, including being forced to keep a detailed diary to account for every minute of the day. This is long term behaviour and Stark’s theory seeks to present the whole rather than taking the violent episodes and being able to isolate and minimise them. It is a model of abuse that covers a whole range of behaviours and strategies, some of which may not seem sinister until you think about the context. Stark’s purpose is to move coercive control from a second class misdemeanour (in the US) to a human rights violation, a restriction of liberty and a form of indentured servitude. “Experiencing coercive control is like being taken hostage; the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the partner/abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.” There are lots of case studies and examples and three chapters at the end of the book provide detailed case studies of three women who killed as a result of coercive control. Stark is very clear that this is a gendered offence and he makes a very clear case for this. He also examines violence by women and violence within same sex and transgender relationships and argues this is different from coercive control. I found the arguments convincing and it certainly made me think about my own behaviour in day to day life. I read this for work as I quite regularly deal with domestic violence. It is a well-argued book and coercive control seems so obvious that when it is outlined the response is that it is an idea that one already knew about. It is now enshrined in UK law as well.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Kersten

    This was extremely dense; for the most part it was full of really good information but I'm not sure about a few things. Mainly, Stark says that coercive control has only emerged recently as a response to women's increasing equality. I'm entirely on board with categorizing abuse this way but I just don't know if there is any evidence that this form of abuse *didn't* exist before the 1970s as he theorizes. It feels like a major speculation to me. This was extremely dense; for the most part it was full of really good information but I'm not sure about a few things. Mainly, Stark says that coercive control has only emerged recently as a response to women's increasing equality. I'm entirely on board with categorizing abuse this way but I just don't know if there is any evidence that this form of abuse *didn't* exist before the 1970s as he theorizes. It feels like a major speculation to me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Preethi Krishnan

    In the documentary MAKERS -Women who made America Gloria Steinem said, "being beaten up by your husband, didn't have a name; it was just called "life" " referring to domestic violence. In this marvelous book, Evan Starks writes about how the feminist revolution has in fact got stalled. Starks contests the notion that domestic violence has reduced drastically over time. Rather, the intense focus on extreme physical violence has rendered yet another form of violence - coercive control - invisible In the documentary MAKERS -Women who made America Gloria Steinem said, "being beaten up by your husband, didn't have a name; it was just called "life" " referring to domestic violence. In this marvelous book, Evan Starks writes about how the feminist revolution has in fact got stalled. Starks contests the notion that domestic violence has reduced drastically over time. Rather, the intense focus on extreme physical violence has rendered yet another form of violence - coercive control - invisible in the eyes of law. In the conclusion Starks calls for criminalizing coercive control. Starks reiterates the importance of framing the problem differently. He says, it is critical to bring in gender inequality as an important parameter within the legal language. Although the feminist movement helped bring about interventions to address domestic violence, gender inequality as an important parameter lost its space. He demonstrates how this oversight had led to the prevalence of coercive control. Moreover, the current notion of gender equality was making it further difficult to address this issue legally. Starks defines Coercive Control as "“Coercive control entails a malevolent course of conduct that subordinates women to an alien will by violating their physical integrity (domestic violence), denying them respect and autonomy (intimidation), depriving them of social connectedness (isolation), and appropriating or denying them access to the resources required for personhood and citizenship (control).” He says there are four categories of coercive control – violence, intimidation, isolation and control. He draws from his experience of handling domestic violence cases to demonstrate how perpetrators exercise coercive control. He also reminds us the importance of asking the right question. Instead of asking "why did the woman stay?" he says, we must ask, "why did the man batter?" Rather than depicting the picture of a victim, Starks clearly demonstrates how battered women resist in various ways and are often forthright about their abuse, if asked. This book was personally empowering. This book provides a framework to analyze whether relationships are indeed equal as people often claim it to be. Of course, some of those stories are shocking if one has not read about violence within intimate relationships before. It is a long one, but certainly a must read!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tré

    This book was so much more than I expected. The key takeaway was that as women's status increases, coercive control by men will also increase as they struggle to maintain dominance and enact their masculinity. The author presents an excellent discussion of the social, cultural, psychological and legal implications and offers many real world examples. If more women, and supportive men, read this book the world would be a different place. This book was so much more than I expected. The key takeaway was that as women's status increases, coercive control by men will also increase as they struggle to maintain dominance and enact their masculinity. The author presents an excellent discussion of the social, cultural, psychological and legal implications and offers many real world examples. If more women, and supportive men, read this book the world would be a different place.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    this book is excellent--it provides a sophisticated Foucaultian framework for domestic violence (DV) and is among the best of the DV texts; it is definitely not a relaxing book nor a great self-help book but in terms of research on this issue, he really understands the issue and doesn't fall into the traps that authors like Kathleen Ferraro or Andrea Westlund fall into this book is excellent--it provides a sophisticated Foucaultian framework for domestic violence (DV) and is among the best of the DV texts; it is definitely not a relaxing book nor a great self-help book but in terms of research on this issue, he really understands the issue and doesn't fall into the traps that authors like Kathleen Ferraro or Andrea Westlund fall into

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anushka

    Just started Coercive Control by Evan Stark, doing my socio 222 essay on it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This is another great book! I gleaned this title from a list published by the journal Violence and Gender called "Literature Watch." This is an important read for anyone interested in the technology of coercive control and how it's mechanisms are deployed in terms of the sexual batterer and oppressive partner. The technology of coercive control is also deployed by federal and state bureaucratic apparatus. For this reason this book makes a great read for people working with women trapped in cycle This is another great book! I gleaned this title from a list published by the journal Violence and Gender called "Literature Watch." This is an important read for anyone interested in the technology of coercive control and how it's mechanisms are deployed in terms of the sexual batterer and oppressive partner. The technology of coercive control is also deployed by federal and state bureaucratic apparatus. For this reason this book makes a great read for people working with women trapped in cycles of domestic violence and intimate partner violence who are stuck with controlling partners. As such, it provides a wealth of insights. Although primarily these batterers have been male, it holds the possibility for a great theoretical framework on anyone caught in abusive relationship cycles, including homosexuals and transgender individuals. Although this books previews coercive control from a patriarchal standpoint, the abuses employed can be funneled down into the narcissistic abuse by one individual against another and those suffering with partners who possess personality disorders. It discusses issues of domestic dependence, and the heart of the book states the same paradox that allows women to live independently also provide a major incentive for masculine coercive control. "Because women are more equal then ever before, men intent on subordinating them have expanded their tactical repertoire beyond coercion, relying heavily on the huge gap that still separates women's formal status as men's equals from their reality."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Interecophil

    Important arguments being made about coercive control, particularly how we should be paying more attention to how coercive control has become a means by which some men defend patriarchal privileges and continue to control women in an environment where violence against women is more tightly regulated and policed ... pushing men into new forms of policing women in intimate relationships. Failing to talk about the tactics of coercive control can lead to the many ways in which women are coerced in s Important arguments being made about coercive control, particularly how we should be paying more attention to how coercive control has become a means by which some men defend patriarchal privileges and continue to control women in an environment where violence against women is more tightly regulated and policed ... pushing men into new forms of policing women in intimate relationships. Failing to talk about the tactics of coercive control can lead to the many ways in which women are coerced in subtle, yet powerful ways, fading into the background. The only signal that something is wrong in a relationship will then be physical acts of violence, which makes much that should not be invisible, be invisible to the broader community.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lorna Stremcha

    Perspective & Research: A book you need in your library. This is an excellent resource book. I met Dr. Evan Stark a few years back in Billings, Montana when he was speaking at the McGuire Memorial Conference on Family Violence. He is a founder of one of the first shelters for abused women in the United States. He is the recipent of numerous awards for his resarch and service. Dr. Stark was also the lead witness for the plaintiffs in the landmark federal class action suit, Nicholson v. Williamson. Perspective & Research: A book you need in your library. This is an excellent resource book. I met Dr. Evan Stark a few years back in Billings, Montana when he was speaking at the McGuire Memorial Conference on Family Violence. He is a founder of one of the first shelters for abused women in the United States. He is the recipent of numerous awards for his resarch and service. Dr. Stark was also the lead witness for the plaintiffs in the landmark federal class action suit, Nicholson v. Williamson. The book is academic in nature and a helpful resource for those interested in learning more about domestic violence, partner assault, battered women and its challenges.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Oldbury

    This was a complete waste of time and money for my situation. I really thought it would help with coercive control but it doesn’t. It really only talks about domestic violence etc. Not the situation I am dealing with. Trying to get refund of the £10 from amazon is so stressful and like getting blood out of a stone 😡😡😡😡

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    Read for research. Good book. Hard topic to read. Would recommend to professional who deal with men.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lin Huff-Corzine

    Stark really knows what he's talking about. Watch him on TED Talks to add to the book. You should have a good understanding of domestic violence once you've completed both. Stark really knows what he's talking about. Watch him on TED Talks to add to the book. You should have a good understanding of domestic violence once you've completed both.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chanie

    Comprehensive of a specific prototype. Doesn’t overlap with NPD as much as I’d thought it would. Dense and dispassionate. Best for clinicians.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    A brutal and accurate breakdown of the less common signs of abuse: the psychological type. I never understood the precise meaning of this word until reading this book. Many journalistic stories of real people being trapped in coercive control. Whether a boss, a family member, a spouse, etc. The author contends how most often the signs are so subtle, and gradual with coercive control.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I'm reading this for work. It will take me forever. Now you know why I have to read several books at the same time. I'm reading this for work. It will take me forever. Now you know why I have to read several books at the same time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Read selections.

  17. 5 out of 5

    mark

    How many books, movies, articles etc. can one ingest. They are sad. Who's at fault? Hurt people hurt people. Some get out and try to help others, but ... How many books, movies, articles etc. can one ingest. They are sad. Who's at fault? Hurt people hurt people. Some get out and try to help others, but ...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Sa

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ksenia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 5 out of 5

    D. BonAnno

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zhenzhen Xiang

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Kaib

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachel McKenzie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jose

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mia Scally

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tara Reed

  30. 4 out of 5

    mark

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  32. 4 out of 5

    Shara Davis

  33. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  34. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  35. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  36. 4 out of 5

    wendy Burrows

  37. 4 out of 5

    Filosofiashop Shop

  38. 5 out of 5

    Alyona

  39. 4 out of 5

    Libby

  40. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

  41. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  42. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

  43. 5 out of 5

    Rachelcamp

  44. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  45. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

  46. 5 out of 5

    Mama Liberty

  47. 5 out of 5

    sari

  48. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  49. 5 out of 5

    Clifton

  50. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

  51. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

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