CCChat-Magazine_11-November-2018 (2)


CCChat Magazine

Conference Issue

The Magazine on and around Coercive Control



The Justice For Women Campaign To Free Her


Meet Dr Olumide Adisa

Researcher and Principal Investigator

Professor Evan Stark

CCChat’s Man of The Year and

Conference Keynote Speaker


Editor's Notes

3 Blink and You'll Miss.

It's been busy busy busy......

Conference on Coercive Control

5 The Schedule for the day

The CCChat interview

9 Professor Evan Stark

Justice For Women

11 November Event

Coercive Control:

Punishment & Resistance

The Spotlight On.....

15 Dr Olumide Adisa

Freedom's Flowers

18 Continuing our serialisation of Pat

Craven's book. This month: Chapter 4 The

Six Year Old

Guest Post

26 Sing-Along-A-Domestic-Abuse?

by Amanda Warburton-Wynn

Making The Invisible Visible

Editor's Notes

About The Editor

Min Grob started conference

on Coercive Control in June

2015, following the end of a

relationship that was coercive

and controlling.

Since then, there have been 4

national conferences three in

Bury St Edmunds and one in

Bristol. The conference on the

34th November at Goldsmiths,

University of London will bw

the fift.

Other events have been

planned for 2019 and 2020.

Min is particularly interested

identifying perpetrator tactics

and has spoken on the

challenging subject of

differentiating between strident

discourse and deliberate


With the use of examples from

social media, various covert

tactics can be identified

therefore creating greater

awareness and understanding

of our abuse manifests when it

is invisible in plain sight.

Min is also a public speaker

and speaks on topics such as

her personal experiences of

coercive control,,perpetrator

tactics and also more generally

of abuse that is hidden in plain


In September 2018, Min

launched Empower - a hub for

supporting and education on

and around coercive control.

Find it on:

Let's grow the Conversation!

Blink and You'll Miss

Hello to all readers of CChat - old and new and welcome to this conference

edition of CCChat Magazine which, as well as being available online and as a

PDF version will be made available to attendees of the Conference on Coercive

Control as a printed copy.

It's been a really really busy few months planning for the future. Empower, the

local information and support hub for the Waveney area of Norfolk and Suffolk

has launched. It is still in the early stages but dates are already up for coercive

control and stalking training as well as a Freedom Programme Facilitator course

starting next year. There are various events being planned for next year and they

will be added to the site in the coming months. If you are from East Anglia, take a

look at and keep checking in to see what's new.

Changes are also afoot for this magazine as it is hoped to include more sections

on wellbeing and managing trauma. As it stands, at the moment, I'm limited to

what I can produce on my own with super-slow rural wifi but hopefully this should

all change soon- watch this space!

One thing I am very excited about is the planning for an event in 2020. It sounds

like a long way off but time goes by so quickly that it feels like each time i blink, 6

months have flown by!

The event is called SMEAR! and it is a look at how and why abusers smear and

how better to identiy it. It will look at tactics such as 'mobbing' and the various

covert ways abusers use others to abuse on their behalf whilst they, the

instigator or ringleader of the abuse, stays in the background. It is a deeper look

at all those situations where the classic response is 'Six of One, Half a Dozen of

the Other'.

Tickets are now available for next year's conference in Liverpool which is being

sponsored by the Freedom Programme and is also partnered with Relate

Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester,Sam Billingham's SODA and

author Jennifer Gilmour's Abuse Talk Forum .

I'm really really looking forward to what the future brings and hope you'll

accompany me along the way!

To contact Min:

Min x

Making The Invisible Visible

Conference on Coercive


The Schedule

Schedule for the Day (may be subject to change)

9.15 – 9.45 Registration

9.45 -9.50. Welcome

9.50 -10.00 Opening Speech David Challen

10.00-11.30 Keynote Speech Professor Evan Stark

11.30-12.00 Coffee

12.00-12.30 Living With Murder Joanne Beverley

12.30- 1.00

1.00-1.30 Trauma Informed Services Dr Suzanne Martin

The Elderly and Coercive Control (tbc)

1.30-2.15 Lunch

2.15-3.15 Cultic Abuse and Coercive Control

Dr Alexandra Stein,

Christian Szurko

Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall

Dr Rod Dubrow-Marshall

3.15 - 3.45 Online Coercive Control Sarah Phillimore

3.45 --4.15 Post Separation Abuse Dr Laura Monk

4.15- 4.20 Closing Speech

4.20 - 5.00 - Tea and Networking

5.00 ENDS

Making The Invisible Visible

Conference on Coercive Control

LONDON 24th November

Here's a closer look at the speakers



on Coercive Control LONDON will be the first

conference to be held in the capital.

The venue, Goldsmiths, University of London is a public

research university specialising in the arts, design,

humanities, and social sciences. It is a constituent college of

the University of London.

Professor Evan Stark

Professor Evan Stark is a sociologist, forensic social worker and award winning researcher

with an international reputaion. He is author of award winning book, Coercive Control: How

Men Entrap Women in Personal Life - one of the most important books ever written on

domestic abuse and the original source of the coercive control model when the Home

Office widened its definition of domestic violence. Professor Stark played a major role in

the consultation that led to the drafting of the new offence.

Suzanne Martin, PhD

Suzanne Martin, PhD is a Psychotherapist, VAWG specialist and academic with

experience of working in the NHS, HE, voluntary and private sectors and set up the MA

Understanding Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse at Goldsmiths.

Joanne Beverley

Joanne Beverley is the sister of Natalie Hemming who was brutally murdered by her

partner. The story of how Paul Hemming became the subject of a murder enquiry became

the subject of a Channel 4 documentary Catching a Killer:The search for Natalie


David Challen

David Challen is the youngest son of Sally Challen currently campaigning for her appeal of

the murder of his father Richard Challen. Sally killed her husband Richard after a suffering

a lifetime coercive control and physical violence by him. With fresh psychological evidence

and a more developed understanding of coercive control a successful appeal would create

a landmark case.

Alexandra Stein, PhD

Alexandra Stein, PhD is a writer and educator specialising in the social psychology of

ideological extremism and other dangerous social relationships. She is the author of

Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachments in cults and totalitarian systems.

Making The Invisible Visible

Conference on Coercive Control

LONDON 24th November

Here's a closer look at the speakers


Christian Szurko

Christian Szurko is the founder of Dialog Centre UK which provides information on

manipulative influence and guides ex members to recovery after spiritual and

psychological abuse.. He is the Review Board Member of the Open Minds Foundation

Dr Linda Dubrow- Marshall

Dr Linda Dubrow- Marshall is a clinical and counselling psychologist. She is co programme

leader for the MSc Psychology of Coercive Control and MSc Applied Psychology

(Therapies) at the University of Salford. She co -founded the Re-Entry Therapy Information

and Referral Network (RETIRN) to provide specialist mental health services in individuals

and families affected by abusive groups and relationships.

Dr Rod Dubrow- Marshall

Dr Rod Dubrow- Marshall is co-programme leader of the MSc Pychology of Coercive

Control and Visiting Fellow in the Criminal Justice Hub at the University of Salford and on

the Board of Directors of the International Cultic Studies Association.

Sarah Phillimore

Sarah Phillimore is a family barrister based in the South West of England and also site

administrator of Child Protection Resource, an online resource aimed at helping anyone

involved in the child protection system by providing up to date information about relevant

law and practice, and contributing to the wider debate about the child protection system.

Dr Laura Monk

Dr Laura Monk has a degree in Person Centred Counselling & Psychotherapy, an MSc in

psychology, a PhD in psychology and behavioural sciences and studied the lack of support

for mothers separated from their children in a context of domestic abuse, developing a

training programme to improve professionals responses to mothers living apart from their

children and works in private practice.

Making The Invisible Visible

the interview

Professor Evan Stark

Professor Evan Stark is the Keynote Speaker for Conference on Coercive Control

LONDON. He is also CCChat's Man of the Year.

CCChat managed to interrupt him from his extremely busy schedule to ask him

some questions...

Do you think the ( coercive control) law goes

far enough?

The Scottish ‘offense is better because it includes

all the elements of coercive control in one place,

including sexual abuse and physical violence, and

carries a maximum penalty of 15 years that more

closely reflects the seriousness of the crime. But

what’s really different about Scotland is the

political context, the leadership on this issue that

has come from CPS and the judiciary, and the

fact that the political wind of the women’s

movement at its back. Northern Ireland has a

weaker law. But the Women’s Movement there

may make if work.’

Do you think the law has increased

understanding of cc?

Andy Myhill and his team at the College of

Policing in London have done an amazing job in

adapting training and risk assessments tools like

the DASH to reflect an approach that is historical,

comprehensive and focused on bringing women’s

voices into the evidence gathering process. There

have been more than 1000 convictions under

S76, contrary to what critics predicted. Reports

have continued to increase, showing women are

viewing the justice system as a possible resource.

These are all positive signs. Neither police nor the

specialist services have been resourced

adequately to meet the new demand. And the

government persists in equating coercive control

with psychological abuse. Coercive control is fearbased

context of domination that makes

emotional abuse tortuous. So much to be done.

This is a question I get asked all the time.

Could you please explain why, if men can be

victims of cc, it is a gendered crime?

Look, no one asks if ‘rape’ is gender-based and

yet men are sexually assaulted too. Coercive

control is in all kinds of relational contexts, in

female-to-male as well as same-sex-identified

partners, as well as many institutional setting like

prisons or POW camps.

Where literal bars replace the rules laid out in

many abusive relationships, we don’t consider the

restraints on liberty criminal. In relationships, now

we do.

To be worthy of public notice, restraints on liberty

must be widespread and based on social

vulnerabilities, among which gender stands out in

its significance as a point of vulnerability in

personal life because of its links to love, marriage,

domesticity, child raising and yet property.

We also know that when women are subjected to

coercive control, the co-occurrence of sexual

violence, stalking, reproductive coercion and sex

role stereotyping is extraordinarily high and have

uniquely devastating consequences.

Nothing in the new law privileges women over

men. But by presuming women should be treated

as equal persons, it does give women an

advantage they don’t currently possess.

Making The Invisible Visible

What else would you like to see to

help victims of cc?

Come to my talk and find out. There

are plenty of women who are speaking

up clealy about what they would like

for themselves. Now some personal


How do you relax?

Not by answering a lot of questions. I

play piano—hard with my current

health problems—exercise, walk, read

novels, watch a lot of NETFLIX

Favourite food?

Dunno…I’m glutton and dairy free. I

luv swiss cheese

Favourite song?

Old Shep by Elvis….I never cried over

my own dog but was always perplexed

by the things men did and did not cry


Favourite movie?

So many, so many….Modern Times

Chaplin; Duck Soup, Marx Brothers;

Children of Paradise; The Big Sleep

What do you look forward to when

coming to the U.K.?

Frankly, eating in Edinburgh and being

with my pals from Women’s Aid in

Belfast, Edinburgh, Wales , Glasgow

and my colleagues in Bristol and

friends all over.

Next, the art museums in London and

Edinburgh, And then the Islands.

What would you take with you on a

desert island? (Humans and pets

not allowed!)

I-Phone to learn how to use it and

then, when it ran out, to wonder at it.

Making The Invisible Visible

Justice for Women is a feminist campaigning

organisation that supports, and advocates on

behalf of, women who have been convicted of the

murder of their male abusers.

Established in 1990, they have been involved in a

number of significant cases at the Court of Appeal

that have resulted in women’s original murder

convictions being overturned including Sara

Thornton, Emma Humphreys, Kiranjit Ahluwahlia

and most recently Stacey Hyde.

Making The Invisible Visible

Sally Challen

The Appeal

whilst he forced strict restrictions on her behavior, he himself, would flaunt his money,

have numerous affairs and visit brothels. If she challenged him, he would turn it back on

her and make her feel she was going mad.

Sally killed Richard in 2010 after years of being

controlled and humiliated by him. At the time of her

conviction, ‘coercive control’ was not a crime in

England and Wales, only becoming recognised in law

as a form of domestic abuse in 2015.

Coercive control is a way of understanding domestic

violence which foregrounds the psychological abuse

and can involve manipulation, degradation, gaslighting

(using mind games to make the other person doubt

their sanity) and generally monitoring and controlling

the person’s day-to-day life such as their friends,

activities and clothing. This often leads to the abused

becoming isolated and dependent on the abuser.

It was dramatised very well in Helen’s storyline in

Radio 4’s The Archer’s back in 2016. Sally was only 16

when she met 22 year old Richard. At first he was

charming but gradually the abuse began. He bullied

and belittled her, controlled their money and who she

was friends with, not allowing her to socialise without

him. But, whilst he forced strict restrictions on her

behavior, he himself, would flaunt his money, have

numerous affairs and visit brothels. If she challenged

him, he would turn it back on her and make her feel

she was going mad.

Although Sally did manage at one point to leave

Richard, even starting divorce proceedings, she was so

emotionally dependent on him that she soon returned,

even signing a ‘post nuptial’ agreement he drew up that

denied her full financial entitlement in the divorce and

forbade her from interrupting him or speaking to


It was not long after this reunion, that the offence took

place. Sally, so utterly dependent on Richard, wanted

to believe that they could be together, but his

behaviour towards her was increasingly humiliating.

The final straw was when he sent Sally out in the rain

to get his lunch so that he could phone a woman he had

been planning to meet from a dating agency. Sally

returned suspicious and challenged him, he

commanded her not to question him and she struck

him repeatedly with a hammer.

Her defence at trial was diminished responsibility, the

legal team downplayed the abusive behavior of her

husband, Sally was convicted of murder and sentenced

to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 22 years,

reduced to 18 at appeal. Despite the death of their

father, Sally’s two sons and all those who knew Sally

and Richard well have supported her recognizing that

she was completely controlled by Richard.

In 2017, Justice for Women submitted new grounds of

appeal to the Criminal Appeal court highlighting new

psychiatric evidence and an expert report showing how

coercive control provides a better framework for

understanding Sally’s ultimate response in the context

of a history of provocation. Unfortunately, permission

to appeal was refused by a judge who read only some


On 1st March Sally's legal team submitted a renewed

oral application for appeal before three court of appeal

judges. Sally was granted leave to appeal and on 28th

November 2018 she will appear in court for her appeal


Making The Invisible Visible

Justice for Women

Coercive Control:

Punishment & Resistance

An Event -15th November 2018



28th November, Sally Challen will appeal her

conviction for the murder of her abusive husband

Richard, relying on fresh evidence of ‘coercive


This form of psychological abuse which can involve manipulation, isolation, degradation

and gas-lighting (mind games causing the victim to doubt their own sanity) was dramatised

to critical acclaim in Helen Archer’s storyline in 2016, in Radio 4’s The Archers, gaining

widespread media coverage and raising public awareness.

However, it is still largely misunderstood not only in wider society but also within the

criminal justice system itself. Introduced to English Law in 2015, there have so far been

very few convictions of the perpetrators of this form of abuse and female survivors such as

those represented by Justice for Women are still persecuted in Court.

Emma-Jayne Magson and Farieissia (Fri’) Martin have both lodged appeals against the

convictions of the murder of their respective partners. On 22nd November an oral

permission hearing will take place for Emma-Jayne’s appeal.

Join us as we discuss our current cases and the legal barriers faced by women who have

killed whilst subject to coercive and controlling behaviour and other forms of abuse.

Speakers will include:

Helen Walmsley-Johnson

Author of ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ a biographical account of surviving coercive and

controlling behaviour.

David Challen

Sally Challen’s son on the campaign to free Sally

Harriet Wistrich

Co-founder of Justice for Women, solicitor for Sally Challen and Fri Martin

Clare Wade QC

Barrister for Sally Challen, Fri Martin and Emma-Jayne Magson

Julie Bindel

Journalist and co-founder of Justice for Women

Louise Bullivant

Solicitor for Emma-Jayne Magson

Joanne Smith

Emma-Jayne Magson’s mother

Chaired by Claire Mawer, barrister and member of Justice for Women

Making The Invisible Visible

Justice For Women Event

Coercive Control:

Punishment and Resistance


Thursday 15th November 2018


Phoenix Centre, Phoenix Place, London


Tickets £5 (including wine)

For tickets go to:

or EventBrite

Making The Invisible Visible

Spotlight on

Dr Olumide Adisa

Dr Olumide Adisa of University of Suffolk, has a cross-disciplinary

research experience straddling both economics and sociology.

Prior to joining the University of Suffolk in March

2017, Olumide worked as the Research Lead

examining live at home schemes in the UK and the

role of third sector partnership working at the

Methodist Homes in helping older people live

independently in their homes.

Olumide has held various senior management

positions in the voluntary sector in the UK and

overseas over the last 10 years.

She completed her PhD in economic sociology at

the University of Nottingham in 2016. Her

doctoral thesis primarily applied statistics and

econometric modelling to investigate and

understand the determinants and the health

consequences of economic vulnerability amongst

ageing households in West Africa - using the

NGHPS dataset collected by the World Bank and

NBS in 2004 and 2010.

She is extending the use of these household

datasets to explore other health equity and

vulnerability issues. Olumide has a crossdisciplinary

research experience straddling both

economics and sociology. Her core specialisms are

in applying economic and sociological methods in

the fields of domestic abuse, social exclusion,

health equity, and economic development.

She also teaches and contributes to development

economics and research methodology courses.

Olumide is a member of the Suffolk Institute for

Social and Economic Research. She currently

works on a range of projects as a principal


Examples of Olumide's ongoing projects:

Evaluating the money advice for survivors of

domestic abuse, in partnership with Anglia Care

Trust - completed April 2018.

Access to Justice: Assessing the Impact of the

Magistrates' Court Closures in Suffolk - report

launched in July 2018, with Suffolk's Public Sector


Evaluating a social mobility pilot project in

Suffolk, in partnership with four secondary

schools and Suffolk County Council.

Evaluating the Norfolk and Suffolk “Project

SafetyNet” pilot service for migrant domestic

abuse victims.

The Venta project: working with male

perpetrators of VACC (violence, abuse, coercion,

and control), in partnership with Iceni.

Evaluating the economic justice project --- routine

screening for economic abuse into the delivery of

domestic violence services (partners: Surviving

Economic Abuse and Solace Women's Aid)

Public Perceptions of the VCSE sector in Suffolk,

in partnership with Commuity Action Suffolk -

completed September 2018.

Evaluation of the Satellite Refuge Project -

Suffolk. Assessing the confidence levels of charity

managers (risk, governance, and compliance to

regulations) - completed September 2018.

Making The Invisible Visible

Outside of academia, Olumide boasts a successful

bid portfolio of over a million pounds with major

funders including: BIG Lottery Funding, Heritage

Lottery Fund BBC Children in Need to support the

work of various local,national and international


Olumide sits on the board of an international

development organisation, Institute of Voluntary

Sector Management providing research and

strategic input; and as a consultant, she has

worked with a grassroots Indian nongovernmental

organisation, the Society for

Development through Education, to empower

Adivasi tribes.

In her spare time, Olumide is managing editor of

the Suffolk Research Blog, an initiative supported

by the Suffolk Foundation Board.

Recent Reports and Publications:

Adisa O. (2018). Why are some older

persons economically vulnerable and

others not? The role of socio-demographic

factors and economic resources, Ageing

International (accepted).

Adisa O. (2018). Third sector partnerships

for older people: insights from live at home

schemes in the UK, Working with Older


Adisa O. (2018). An evaluation of an

alternative money advice service for

survivors of domestic abuse. Ipswich:

University of Suffolk.

Adisa, O. (2018). Access to Justice: Assessing

the Impact of the Magistrates' Court

Closures in Suffolk. Ipswich: University of


Adisa, O. (2016). The determinants and

consequences of economic vulnerability

among urban elderly Nigerians. PhD thesis,

University of Nottingham.

Making The Invisible Visible

Making an Impact: Valuing the Social and

Economic worth of the Voluntary and Community

Sector, Liverpool, June 2018

Centre for Violence Prevention 2018

Annual Conference, Violence Prevention at the

Intersections of Identity and Experience,

Worcester, June 2018

Speaker and Organiser; “Money Matters:

Changing the lives of survivors of domestic abuse

in Suffolk”, March 2018

The Determinants and consequences of

economic vulnerability amongst elderly

people in Nigeria: Evidence from a national

household survey. University of Bielefeld,

Germany (August 1- 8, 2017).

Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership (SDAP)

Presentation; “Data Sharing Agreements and

developing a shared database on domestic abuse”;

December 2017.

Adisa, O (2016). Mapping third sector

partnerships in live at home schemes to foster

learning and growth. Policy and Research Unit;

Derby, Methodist Homes.

Adisa, O. (2016). A two-year review of the

HomeWard Project: A partnership between

MHA’s Horsforth Live at Home Scheme & the

British Red Cross: Leeds. Methodist Homes.

Interviewing vulnerable groups - depth

interviewing skills workshop, University of

Suffolk, December 2017

A Fuzzy Set Approach to Multidimensional

Poverty Measurement. University of Bielefied,

Germany (August 1- 8, 2017).

Discussant, Access to Justice for Vulnerable

People - International Conference; The Advocate's

Gateway. Inns of Court College of Advocacy.

London. June 2017

In her spare time, Olumide is managing editor of the Suffolk Research

Blog, an initiative supported by the Suffolk Foundation Board.

Adisa, O. (2015). Investigating determinants

of catastrophic health spending among

poorly insured elderly households in urban

Nigeria. International journal for equity in

health, 14(1), 79.

Invited Reviews:

Building Better Societies (2017). Edited by

Rowland Atkinson, Lisa McKenzie, and Simon

Winlow. Policy Press. London School of

Economics and Political Science Review of Books.

Making The Invisible Visible

Freedom’s Flowers

By Pat Craven

Chapter 4- The Six Year



of children aged between the ages of one and six show that if someone plays

with them, talks to them, reads to them and sings to them, they are more successful

at school than children who have been ignored. As the Dominator has ensured that

we have been unable to interact with our children, they may start school at a

disadvantage from which they may never recover. The Dominator has, effectively,

forced us to ignore them for their own safety and to placate him.

Children need role models because we all learn by example. Our children do, indeed, have a role model. They can watch a

giant baby having tantrums to get his own way. They can clearly see that this tactic is successful, so they copy it in nursery

or school. They can be excluded and then we take them to the doctor who can often diagnose ADHD. I want to stress that,

as a mother in this situation, I do not make the connection between the influence of the Dominator and the behaviour of my

child. I visit the doctor in good faith and I gratefully accept the diagnosis. This is clear from the narratives we have included

in this book.

There can also be another factor at work here. If a child is smacked for displeasing an adult, then they are being given a

clear message. The message is that it is acceptable to assault someone who has done something you do not like. This

lesson can also last a lifetime. Children of any age need friends. Friends can teach us how to behave socially, to play,

communicate and share. This is a way to practise how to behave for the rest of our lives. Dominators are Jailers who do not

allow anyone into the house. They cannot bring friends home. Soon, other children do not invite our young children to visit

or play. Children of the Dominator have no friends.

The absence of friends can affect our children in another deeply damaging way. Friends can show us affection. They can

say, “I like you”, “I want to be your friend”. Young children who have been ignored by their mother to keep them safe cannot

get any affection from anywhere else. Children can also get a lot of stimulus and love from their extended family. The Jailor

has also excluded aunts, uncles, grandparents and all their mother’s friends. No one is there for our six-year-old. No one

shows them any love. Rich Dominators also send our children away to boarding school from a very early age. They convince

us, and everyone else, that this is an advantage to the child. I am not the only person to challenge this notion.

George Monbiot,, Monday 16 January 2012 .

..The UK Boarding Schools website lists 18 schools which take boarders from the age of eight, and 38 which take them from

the age of seven. I expect such places have improved over the past 40 years; they could scarcely have got worse. Children

are likely to have more contact with home; though one school I phoned last week told me that some of its pupils still see their

parents only in the holidays. But the nature of boarding is only one of the forces that can harm these children. The other is

the fact of boarding.

In a paper published last year in the British Journal of Psychotherapy, Dr Joy Schaverien identifies a set of symptoms

common among early boarders that she calls Boarding School Syndrome. Her research suggests that the act of separation,

regardless of what might follow it, "can cause profound developmental damage", as "early rupture with home has a lasting

influence on attachment patterns".

When a child is brought up at home, the family adapts to accommodate it: growing up involves a constant negotiation

between parents and children.

But an institution cannot rebuild itself around one child. Instead, the child must adapt to the system. Combined with the

sudden and repeated loss of parents, siblings, pets and toys, this causes the child to shut itself off from the need for intimacy.

This can cause major problems in adulthood: depression, an inability to talk about or understand emotions, the urge to

escape from or to destroy intimate relationships. These symptoms mostly affect early boarders: those who start when they

are older are less likely to be harmed....

Making The Invisible Visible

George Monbiot is wrong to assert that children

are accepted from the age of seven. I have just

done an internet search and found several schools

who accept children as young as three!

Young, growing children need regular nutritious

meals to help them to grow and develop. They also

need to learn to eat in the company of others.

When the Dominator is in charge, mealtimes are

fraught with tension and fear. I am reminded of

the occasion when I asked a group of men this

question: “What happens at mealtimes in the

home of the Dominator?” Several gave this

answer, “The food goes up the wall.” As though it

flies up there of its own volition! However, one

man who had learned a lot from my teaching said,

thoughtfully, “In my house I used to throw it at

‘woman height’ so she could clean it up quickly.”

The others then nodded in agreement. I include

this story to remind us all that the Dominator is

never angry and plans every move in advance.

Our children need sleep at this age. They are

growing fast and need to be alert during those

vital early years at school. Sadly, they do not sleep.

They lie awake in terror, listening to the noise and

violence downstairs. They may wet the bed. In the

morning, we hurry them from the house to avoid

the wrath of the Dominator. We may not have the

time to clean and tidy them so we may take them

to school unkempt and smelly.

This can happen in any social group. A friend told

me that her father was a consultant paediatrician,

and this is exactly what happened to her. When

she went to school she had no friends to protect

her, she was not thriving in class and was bullied


Once again, as the mother, we fail to make the

connection between the bed wetting and the

Dominator, and we take our child to the doctor for

yet more medication!

“In my house I used to throw it at ‘woman height’

so she could clean it up quickly.”

Children in this situation can associate food with

fear and tension. They can develop eating

disorders. They can become too tense to eat, or

may gobble or hoard food. All my associates who

work in refuges have seen children who behave

like this when they arrive, after fleeing from


Nearly every adult I know, who has problems with

food, grew up in a home where they were

terrorised by a Dominator.

Rose again:

...My oldest son said, a few days ago, "Remember

when me and you slept in the car mum? The little

green car?" I am amazed that he could

remember, he was so young. "Remember,

mummy, when dad used to play the banister

game? He would take us to the top of the stairs

and hold us over the banister, dangling us, you

used to scream and cry and tell him to stop but he



Making The Invisible Visible

My teenage son said to me the other day, “Mum I

remember when dad bought me new trainers and

they did not fit. I was too scared to tell him, so I

wore them too small.”

Rose’s nine-year-old daughter ...

“When we lived with dad, mum was always upset

and sad. That made us sad. Dad used to throw

the food at the wall, because nothing was ever

good enough for him. It was like we never got to

see mum because dad was always shouting at

her. Well, apparently, he was talking, but who

was born yesterday? He used to hang us over the

banister, we used to scream and shout but he

wouldn’t stop. Life is better now we don’t live

with dad. Life is better now because we are

happier, not sad. No one throws stuff at the

walls. No one shouts and gets bullied...

Daisy ... Verbal abuse at bedtime

He would verbally abuse me when I was putting

the children to bed. Literally, I would have the

baby in my arms placing her in her cot, and he

would start on me. I remember thinking how

inappropriate it was, but didn’t want to argue

back or else I would be just as bad as him. All my

children were fitful sleepers and never slept right

through. Looking back I can see why, but at the

time I never made the connection. Bedtime is

supposed to be relaxed and calm, and yet here

they are being put to bed whilst their mummy is

being yelled at. I feel really sad that I let this go

on for so long. Now I am free, I do wonder how

much the four-year-old may have heard whist

she was in bed, supposedly asleep. I worry she

may have woken and heard him ranting at me.

Was she frightened? How did she feel? It doesn’t

bear thinking about.

“He would come in drunk and hang us over the


Rose’s 11-year-old son

Living with my dad was hard. I used to get really

scared and frightened of him. He used to hit

mummy and I had to see it all the time. What

usually happened was that they would argue and

mum would cry. They would go into the front

room and dad used to tell us to go upstairs. I used

to hear banging and dad’s voice saying nasty

things. Mum would scream. Next, dad would tell

us to come down and say to us that he was sorry

and mum was being nasty and doing wrong

things. Dad would go out and we didn’t know

where. He would come in drunk and hang us

over the banister. We would cry and scream

while mum would be crying. Eventually, we

would go to bed but at about one o’clock or two

he would wake me and my older brother up to

watch 18s with him. We would be really tired the

next day and nanny would get us up and ready

for school and take us there. Dad would cheat on

mum with other girls and never actually come

home without being drunk.

The night of his last attack on me I actually ran

into Abigail’s room at one point for protection.

Yes, it was ridiculous, but I ran into a two-year

year olds bedroom for protection. I just thought

he would leave me alone if I was near her. She

was asleep, but he still yelled, “Don’t bring her

into this, get out.” So that was the end of that.

Once his attack was over (it lasted several hours),

and I could hear him sleeping in the spare room,

I was tempted to sleep on the floor of Abigail’s

room to feel safer, but I didn’t in case he caught

me. I am very ashamed of this now, that I would

think a two-year-old could protect me. I should

have been protecting her.

Clearly Rose’s three children remember life with

their father all too clearly.

Making The Invisible Visible

Not being able to show love

This is really hard to explain, but I don’t think I

was able to show my love for my children

properly when I lived with my abuser. Now I

cuddle and tell them how much I love them so

much more. I think, before, it was because they

were a chore that had to be done, before I had to

deal with him.

Throwing Rachel

Rachel was just one year old. Robert and I were

at Abigail’s birthday with my mother and

stepfather. I left Robert with the two children and

went to get some things from the car. When I

returned he shouted at me for leaving him with

“these two”. At this point he threw Rachel at me, I

stumbled backwards and my stepdad caught

Rachel. I was so shocked that he would have an

outburst like this in public, and then I just felt

really scared about going home. I hadn’t really

registered that he had thrown our one-year-old

across to me.

There is no doubt that children and young people

are accepting this distorted view of relationships.

Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust 1998

One in five young men and one in ten young

women think that abuse or violence is


Sugar magazine and NSPCC online survey


Teen Abuse survey of Great Britain

4% of teenage girls were subjected to regular

attacks by their partner.

16% had been hit at least once.

31% thought that it was ‘acceptable’ for a boy to

act in an aggressive’ way if his girlfriend has

cheated on him.

“This is really hard to explain, but I don’t think I was able to show my

love for my children properly when I lived with my abuser.”

I think when you are in this kind of relationship

you are so blinkered and so convinced that

everything is normal that you don’t see the harm

that is going on around you. It wasn’t that I

didn’t care about Rachel being thrown, I just

couldn’t think about it because now I was

focusing on how I could placate him before we all

got home alone with him...

Children need to be told the truth. They need the

truth to make sense of their experience of the

world. So when my child asks me, ‘Why is daddy

hitting you?’ I am likely to respond in a variety of

ways. If daddy is listening, as he so often is, I will

deny that he did hit me.

My child has just witnessed this, and now I am

telling them that they cannot believe their own

eyes. I may also say something like, ‘daddy was

only playing’ or ‘daddy is not well’. They may also

hear daddy saying when he does hit me, ‘I am only

doing this because I love you’.

6% girls between 13-19, with an average age of

15, had been forced to have sex with their

boyfriend, and 1 in 3 forgave him and stayed

with him.

Bliss magazine and Woman’s Aid online survey


One in four 16-year-old girls know of someone

else who has been hurt or hit by someone they are


One in six 15-year-old girls and more than one in

four 16-year-old girls who took part in the survey

(27%) have been hit or hurt in some way by

someone they were dating.

When we finally escape from the Dominator he

continues to abuse us and our children by

enlisting the help of statutory agencies.

Clearly, this is sending children a message that if

you love someone you hit them.

Making The Invisible Visible

Daffodil continues her story:

...My ex started a campaign against me which

was designed to get the house and for me to pay

for it through child benefits etc. It had nothing to

do with my child. He got a gullible social worker

on his side. I did not realise the amount of

emotional abuse he was using, and did not

understand what was really happening. I fell in

to his trap. My mother's phase was, “He loads the

gun and then gets others to pull the trigger”.

I started to be investigated on false allegations

which were kept from me, and they used my

mental health as the reasons. The stress was so

bad at the house, I started to stay at work until

my child was in bed asleep, believing that I was

saving him by keeping him away from what was

happening. I was not. He was picking it all up.

He started wetting himself, started taking his

clothes off so he didn't get them dirty, asking for

a nappy back on. He asks me, “When am I going

to live with you?”

My child minder won't have my son on the day he

comes from his father because he is exhausted,

aggressive and whines for the first part of the

afternoon. I have lost over 20% of my wage, so I

have to work fulltime. I have arranged it so I see

my son on two of the three afternoons I have him,

and work long days the rest of the time.

After settling back in, my son almost lets out a

huge breath and starts to relax and breathe and

become a typical five-year-old. This lasts until he

has to go back. The maximum we have, excluding

holidays, is five nights, the shortest is three


““He loads the gun and then gets others to pull the trigger”.

Just before I left, my parents came over for a

week’s holiday, which was well timed and good

that I didn't go over to them as I was told by my

solicitor and GP that, if I left the area, social

services would go for an emergency application

to remove my child as I was under investigation.

The holiday was without my ex. My son, at the

start, again in my Mum's words, was like a wild

angry animal, and all he would eat was one food

type. By the end of the week, he was getting back

to his normal, happier self. He was a child they

would have been happy not to see again because

of the behaviour. This was his 5th birthday


Later, after Daffodil’s ex had assaulted her and

been let off with a caution, the family courts

ordered shared residence.

...So they split him [my son] 60-40 to me and,

supposedly, 50-50 during holiday times. My son

has stopped concentrating at school. He asks me

not to go to daddy’s. He says he loves him but

doesn't want to spend so much time there. My son

stopped sleeping through the night, started having

nightmares, especially if he was going to his


When the Dominator starts to build up to a violent

episode, we mothers try to protect our children by

getting them out of the way. We send them to

their rooms or out to play in the street. Once they

are there, they may join all the other children who

have been sent out to escape from Dominators.

Our children may join together to form gangs.

They already have a lot in common, and they can

start to abuse drugs and alcohol and to break the


Young children will also hear the Dominator call

their mother vile names. Slut and slag are among

the mildest of them. They will learn not to respect

her or any women, even if they do not yet know

what these words mean. Both boys and girls can

share these beliefs.


...Looking back during our time with our

Dominator, my son's behaviour (he was 10 when

we left) was awful. He was physically violent and

spiteful towards females. He had no respect for

females and would often name call.

Making The Invisible Visible

Since we have been free, his behaviour has

improved a million per cent. He is now 15 and he

is a wonderful kid.

My daughter, who was eight at the time, was

clingy, nervous, shy and extremely manipulative.

Now, at 14, she is confident and outgoing and

naturally comical!! She still has the ability to

wrap males around her little finger. It was a long

and painful journey to get my children to adjust

their behaviour. They fought me all the way

because they had spent so long behaving

inappropriately, but we got there in the end.

My son broke my heart one day last year. He

said to me, "I saw him beat you when he had you

on the bedroom floor and I’m sorry". I asked him

why he was sorry, and he said, "Because I didn’t

help you".


...Peter was sitting next to me in the front seat of

the car. My precious little boy, who I had sworn

would never know abuse, didn’t know what had

hit him when I got together with Michael. He was

three at the beginning of it all, and here we were

three years later, sharing a very rare moment

alone together. I knew I couldn’t say too much, as

bad mouthing Michael wasn’t allowed, and I had

to be careful in case Peter, unwittingly, repeated

anything we spoke about. I put my hand on his

leg and said, “Things will be better when we’re

away from Michael”. I felt so guilty that I’d

exposed my baby to a man who hated him. I

wasn’t allowed to talk to Peter, except to tell him

off, which I usually did to ward off any need for

Michael to punish my son for crimes that Michael

had made up. I couldn’t cuddle him because I

would be accused of not loving Michael’s children

and of having Peter as a favourite. The scapegoat

stepchild had become a very angry little boy.

Dominators scapegoat one child and spoil the others.

They can pretend to love the scapegoat.

They turn the children against one another.

When my daughter was 11, she asked if she could

learn karate. I asked her why, and she said,

"Because WHEN a man beats me up I can defend

myself. You should have done karate mummy,

then you could have been the one to do the

beating up, and you wouldn’t have got hurt all

the time". Just because children don’t tell you

what they see, doesn’t mean they haven’t seen


Dominators scapegoat one child and spoil the

others. They can pretend to love the scapegoat.

They turn the children against one another. This

can make it even more difficult when we are trying

to leave the relationship.

Michael said Peter had always been like that,

since he turned two, but I couldn’t help thinking

that Michael’s endless criticism, relentless

taunting and horrible physical abuse had shaped

Peter’s temper. Peter had no bond with his twin

stepsisters. He showed no interest at all because

he wasn’t allowed to. Peter looked up at me and

said he liked Michael. I was horrified that he

couldn’t see what a nasty snake Michael was.

He had only ever pretended to like Peter. Peter

had even accepted that he had to wipe his mouth

before he kissed his stepdad. Michael’s children

could kiss him, but he said “Peter was a dribbler”

to justify abruptly shoving his hand in Peter’s

face as he leaned in to say ‘Goodnight’. I felt so

trapped. I knew I had to get us out of there, but I

could tell that Peter would feel I was depriving

him of a daddy if I did...

Making The Invisible Visible


...One of my early memories as an eight-year-old

is being pinned to the wall with my father

twisting my neck chain with a dangling ‘Star of

David’ (symbol of Judaism) and choking me as he

called me ‘a fucking yid bastard’, whilst my

mother wrestled with him to get him off. He

would eventually loosen his hold, leaving me

weak and terrified, to slide down the wall and

land with a thump. I was terrified, but always

defiant. I would always threaten to get even, to

call the police and get him sent to prison. He

would laugh and look at me with contempt and


I did call the police. I called them often, in fact,

but the domestic violence laws in the 1950s

supported the principle that ‘the man’s home was

his castle’ and in his castle he ‘could rule as he

saw fit’. So he always won, and I spent my

childhood living in a war zone, which I believed

was ‘normal’.

He had only left a deposit with the promise of

further hire purchase payments. He would laugh

at my torment!

As I result of all this chaos and trauma, I

constantly wet the bed and developed asthma, for

which I was repeatedly hospitalised. I was

labelled a ‘sick child’. My father repeatedly told

me it was from the bastard ‘yid’ side of the family

as such weakness could not stem from his

healthy, strong roots. Every year, I was sent

away for a two-week holiday to Cliftonville in

Margate, Kent.

This charitable act, from the Jewish Board of

Guardians, was instigated by our local doctor ‘to

give my mother a break from her sickly

daughter’. I was bereft.

Although I was away from direct fear, I was

terrified my mother would die, that ‘he’ would kill


“ I did call the police. I called them often, in fact, but the domestic violence laws in the

1950s supported the principle that ‘the man’s home was his castle’ and in his castle he

‘could rule as he saw fit’. So he always won, and I spent my childhood living in a war

zone, which I believed was ‘normal’."

My mother originated from Russian Jews who

had fled Tallinn in the late 1900s to escape

persecution. On a happy day in 1938 she had

been ambling through Hyde Park in London,

over the road from her home, when a good

looking man in his Coldstream Guards uniform

started to talk to her. He was handsome and

charming. This Liverpool lad, of Irish descent,

fitted her dream of a man to love. She certainly

did love him! She loved him through terror,

abuse, violence, betrayal and repeated


My problem was that I wanted my father to love

me too. I thought he did when he took me to Club

Row in the East End of London and paid 50p for

the cutest puppy which I named ’Fluffy’. The poor

dog spent more time with my father’s hands

round her throat while he dangled her out of a

third floor window from our Hackney council

flat. Her eyes would bulge with terror and I

would be screaming as he repeatedly threatened

to drop her from the heights. He would also

return home after his many ‘trips’ away with

lavish gifts like a transistor radio, television or a

record player. Every time he did this I thought,

‘He must love me’. Within months, the bailiffs

would be at the door demanding that the goods

be returned to the store.

I would constantly cry and tell the people in

charge to telephone her. They became sick to

death of me.

They labelled me as difficult and calmed me

down with some sort of sedative. No one ever

listened to my fears!

I would plan his death in my mind constantly.

How I would kill him and how, then, we would be

‘free’. In fact we became ‘free’ when I was around

15 years old and he finally left with his then

current woman. He tried to return, but by this

time I had met my own ‘man of my dreams’ who

punched my father on his attempt to return to the

family home and beat my mother. This ‘man of

my dreams’ was one of two men I married. I

prided myself that I had not followed my

mother’s pattern of abusive men, because after

all I had never been hit! How wrong I was!

Next issue: Chapter 5 - The Teenager

Reproduced with kind permission from Pat

Craven and The Freedom Programme

Making The Invisible Visible

Sing-Along-A-Domestic Abuse?

a paper by:

Amanda Warburton-Wynn



is regularly cited as encouraging or condoning domestic violence

and abuse but research so far has focussed on particular types of

music such as hip-hop.

This paper will look at how domestic violence and abuse also

features in a number of mainstream pop music songs.

The United Nations (2018) defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence

that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women,

including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public

or in private life."

Intimate partner violence refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes

physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion,

psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.

Sexual violence is "any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a

person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any

setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the

vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object." (World Health Organisation, November 2017).

Almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical

and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. Globally as many as 38% of all murders of women

are committed by intimate partners. In addition to intimate partner violence, globally 7% of women

report having been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, although data for nonpartner

sexual violence are more limited. Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly

perpetrated by men against women. (World Health Organisation). The UK Government Violence

Against Women & Girls Strategy 2016-2020 includes stalking as a VAWG crime (Home Office,


The causes of domestic violence and abuse are complex but most researchers agree that power and

control plays a significant part. The paper Intimate Partner Violence : Causes and Prevention

(Rachel Jewkes, 2012) concludes that two factors seem to be necessary in an epidemiological

sense (for intimate partner violence to occur): the unequal position of women in a particular

relationship (and in society) and the normative use of violence in conflict.

A 2003 study published by the American Psychological Association (APA,contradicts popular notions

of positive catharsis or venting effects of listening to angry, violent music on violent thoughts and

feeling and concluded that songs with violent lyrics increase aggression related thoughts and

emotions and this effect is directly related to the violence in the lyrics (Exposure to Violent Media:

The Effects of Songs With Violent Lyrics on Aggressive Thoughts and Feelings," Craig A. Anderson

and Nicholas L. Carnagey, 2003).

When reporting on domestic abuse or domestic violence, the media is often accused of trivialising or

normalising the acts of perpetrators by using headlines such as ‘Devoted husband killed wife’ (The

Mirror, 2017), and also of victim blaming (‘Woman drank six Jagerbombs in 10 minutes on the night

she was raped and murdered’, The Sun, 2016). But music is one element of the media that routinely

normalises violence, and some songs gain our unwitting collusion along with commercial success.

Making The Invisible Visible

Some genres of popular music are usually linked

with general violence and violence against women

(rap and hip-hop, Drill) or with tales of volatile

relationships (country) and these will be examined

alongside previous research below. Mainstream

‘pop’ music is not usually a platform for songs

around domestic abuse and songs deliberately

tackling the issue generally do not receive

commercial success, this will also be investigated

further below. However, there are several

commercially successful pop-music songs that

reference domestic abuse, violence against

women or domestic homicide in their lyrics that

have not, until now, been scrutinised. When

thinking about violence in music, the main genre

that comes to mind is rap and hip-hop (GANGSTA



WOMEN IN RAP MUSIC, Armstrong, 2001) Lyrics

describe acts of physical violence, including use

of weapons such as knives and guns and gangrelated

revenge, as an everyday part of life (Bang

Out, Snoop Dogg 2004).

looking at the effect of song portrayals of intimate

partner violence which concluded that the context

in which domestic violence and abuse is displayed

should be considered by the media.

Sexual violence against women is also a recurring

topic for rap (including gangsta-rap) music with a

number of artists using lyrics that appear to

advocate rape as a way to control or punish

women. In the aforementioned Armstrong (1993)

research, the lyrics of 490 songs by thirteen artists

were studied and the paper concluded that 22% of

the songs contained lyrics advocating violence and

misogyny, whilst 11% included lyrics about rape.

The number of research articles about violence in

rap and hip-hop music suggest this genre is well

known for lyrics describing, and in some cases

appearing to support, violence against women.

The paper The Influence of Rap/Hip-Hop Music:

A Mixed-Method Analysis on Audience

Perceptions of Misogynistic Lyrics and the Issue

of Domestic Violence (Cundiff, 2017)

There are several commercially successful pop-music songs that reference

domestic abuse, violence against women or domestic homicide in their lyrics

that have not, until now, been scrutinised.

Drill music, originating in Chicago in 2010, is a

more recent variation on hip-hop that has caused

concern both in the US and the United Kingdom

where incidents of UK Drill musicians using their

lyrics to incite violence against other Drill music

gangs (so-called diss tracks) caused police to

successfully pursue a court order banning one

group from making music without police

permission. (The Guardian, 2018) after Drill music

and gang tensions were linked to the deaths of

three young MCs in London in 2017/18 (FACT

Magazine, 2017).

Violence against women also features in a

number of rap and hip-hop tracks. The 2010

release ‘Love the way you lie’ by Eminem and

featuring Rihanna has been scrutinised by more

than one expert in the field of violence against

women. Thaller and Messing (2014)

(Mis)Perceptions Around Intimate Partner

Violence in the Music Video and Lyrics for “Love

the Way You Lie”, cite the song and its

accompanying video as an example of music

perpetuating a number of myths around domestic

violence. The song was also used in an

experiment by Franuick, et al., (2017) ‘The

Influence of Non-Misogynous and Mixed

Portrayals of Intimate Partner Violence in Music

on Beliefs About Intimate Partner Violence’

concludes that its survey results indicated a

positive correlation between misogynous thinking

and rap/hip-hop consumption.

Intimate partner/domestic violence/abuse also

features regularly in another musical genre,

specifically country music. Country music was

first recognised by the industry in America in the

early 1940’s. Lyrics usually describe tales of woe

(often with the death of a parent/lover/dog) along

with accounts of bad luck in financial and

romantic affairs.

Sheila Simon (2003) links the popularity of

country music to listeners being able to relate to

the circumstances the singer appears to be

experiencing. Domestic homicide in country

music has featured more than once - Johnny

Cash’s Delia’s Gone for example – with the lyrics

describing a male perpetrator murdering his

female lover, and these songs are usually tinged

with regret and a certain amount of blame placed

on the victim. An increase in female performers

such as the Dixie Chicks in the 1990’s brought

feminism more to the fore in song lyrics with

lyrics celebrating strong women standing up for

their rights (Lorrie Morgan, What Part of No,


Making The Invisible Visible

The Dixie Chick’s song Goodbye Earl describes a

man who persistently subjects his wife to violence

but his wife is able to flee and implement legal

measures against him. However, when he

breaches the legal restraints she murders him by

poison with the help of a friend. That Earl had to

die, goodbye Earl Those black-eyed peas, they

tasted alright to me, Earl You're feelin' weak? Why

don't you lay down and sleep, Earl Ain't it dark

wrapped up in that tarp, Earl This move towards

female revenge songs may have more in common

with the aforementioned rap and hip-hop music

than the song writers perceive. Country music has

seen a resurgence in popularity in more recent

times (for example, Taylor Swift) and this has

brought with it a new wave of performers talking

about perhaps more modern issues. The transition

of artists from country to pop, such as Taylor

Swift, has continued the theme of feminism and

strong women but with perhaps more awareness

of ways to assert confidence without resorting to


A hidden track – ‘The blue flashing light’ which

describes a man who verbally and physically

abuses his family, was never released as a single

and the fact that it is hidden (ie not listed on the

track listing) indicates that Travis were not keen

for the song to be known widely. Call me a name

and I'll hit you again You're a slut, you're a bitch,

you're a whore More recently, Hozier, an Irish

singer songwriter who had huge success with the

song ‘Take me to Church’ in 2016, later released

the song ‘Cherry Wine’ (2016) which was

specifically about domestic abuse and the sales

from iTunes downloads of the track went to

domestic violence charities (

Cherrywine). Despite the video featuring well

known actress Saiorse Ronan as a victim of

domestic abuse, the song was denied the

commercial success of Take me to Church and was

mainly reported on by Irish media only (The Irish

Times, 2016).

The 1962 album by The Crystals includes the track

‘He hit me (and it felt like a kiss)

Whilst most of the songs cited so far have less

than obvious connotations of violence against

women, some song writers bravely tackle the

issues of abuse head on – an article from AV

Music in 2011 lists several such examples but

many of these tunes are album tracks or, if

released as singles, were denied mainstream

success. The 1962 album by The Crystals includes

the track ‘He hit me (and it felt like a kiss)’ which

writers Carole King and Gerry Goffin based on the

experiences of their babysitter Little Eva (who had

success with The Locomotion in 1962). However,

the obvious subject matter meant radio stations

were unwilling to play the track and it was denied

any mainstream success (Songfacts).

He couldn't stand to hear me say That I'd been

with someone new, And when I told him I had

been untrue He hit me And it felt like a kiss

Scottish band Travis had several top 40 songs in

the late 1990s and the best- selling album ‘The

man who’ sold over 3.5 million copies.

Thus, it seems that over 50 years on from the

Crystals’ release, music fans and the media are

still reluctant to hear lyrics that deliberately

reference domestic violence even when the singer

has had previous triumph in the charts. Missing

from the compilations of domestic violence

related songs on the internet are more than a few

tracks that did achieve significant commercial

success, despite the lyrics obviously referring to

domestic abuse or domestic homicide. The song

writers in the examples presented here have done

nothing to hide the graphic and violent lyrics yet

the public and the media seem oblivious to the

stories that are being played out. The most

obvious example is Tom Jones’ Delilah - many of

us will have sung along loudly as he

laments Delilah’s fate of being stabbed to death

on her doorstep in revenge for having a

relationship with another man, then begs her to

forgive him. Whilst the song was originally

recorded by PJ Proby, he refused to release it and

Tom’s version reached number 2 in the British

charts in 1968, even receiving an Ivor Novello

award for best song musically and lyrically. Today,

Delilah features on many karaoke lists and is the

unofficial song of Welsh Rugby fans.

Making The Invisible Visible

In such circumstances, a perpetrator may well feel

wronged and claim the trigger was emotional



Moving to the

1990’s, the lyrics of Animal Nitrate by indie

rockers Suede; describe a relationship with

physical and possibly sexual violence. The band

claimed the song, which reached number 7 in the

UK Singles Chart, was about the drug amyl nitrate

but Anderson/Butler’s writing includes the lyrics

‘So in your broken home he broke all your bones,

Now you're taking it time after time’ a clear

reference to domestic violence. The track also

plays up to the myth of domestic abuse only

happening to a certain class of people with the

victim living in a council house (Refuge). There is

also reference to the impact of abuse on children

by implying at the beginning that the perpetrator’s

father was also abusive.

Singers Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce

have all taken court actions against stalkers and,

the UK, singers Nicola Roberts and Lily Allen have

spoken out about their ordeals of being targeted

by stalkers (The Sun, 2017) and (The Guardian,


Whilst there were no UK stalking laws in place

when these songs were released, two very popular

songs seem to advocate the practice. Sting sings

softly about Every move you make Every bond you

break Every step you take I'll be watching you in

‘Every Step you Take’, the 1983 hit he penned, but

this appears to be stalking. The lyrics go on to

refer to the perpetrator watching his victim day

and night because she ‘belongs’ to him. As with

Delilah, the song received an Ivor Norvello award

and also two Grammys.

Similarly, Debbie Harry sings how she’s gonna get

ya, get ya, get ya in the Blondie hit One Way or

Another, from the 1978 Parallel Lines album.

“Debbie Harry wrote the song (with Nigel Harrison) based on an exboyfriend

who stalked her following the end of a relationship.”

Also in the 1990’s, pop princess Kylie Minogue

teamed up with Nick Cave for the UK top twenty

hit ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’. The track was

taken from an album called Murder Ballads which

includes a number of songs describing domestic

homicide. Kylie has been a hugely successful

popstar and her fan base at the time of the release

of the collaboration with Cave was mainly teenage

girls. This makes the way the song lyrics

romanticise the murder of Eliza Day (battered to

death with a rock by her lover) more sinister as it

seems to subscribe to the ‘I only did it because I

love you so much’ myth/excuse of perpetrators.

This song also won three awards, at the 1996

Australian Recording Industry Association music


Stalking is a part of the Government’s Violence

Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy with

updated laws in 2012 creating two new offences

under The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 by

inserting new sections. Today, stalking is rarely

out of the media headlines with a stream of

celebrities experiencing terrifying encounters at

the hands of stalkers (New York News, 2017).

The track being sung by a woman takes on a

lighter tone - it is almost comical when she

promises to follow her victim around town and

find out who he calls, who wouldn’t want to have

the iconic Debbie Harry follow them around?

But Debbie Harry wrote the song (with Nigel

Harrison) based on an ex-boyfriend who stalked

her following the end of a relationship, not so

funny and more sinister still that it was covered by

children’s cartoon characters Alvin and the

Chipmunks in 1983 for the episode "The

Incredible Shrinking Dave" (Wikipedia). Song

writing is often very personal so some of these

examples may arise from the writer’s own

experiences, knowledge or feelings about

relationships. But song writing is also a

commercial business and, in order to be

commercially successful, needs to tell a story that

people can relate to.

It appears that the songs about domestic abuse

that become popular are either not recognised for

their subject matter by the public and media (and

award givers) or perhaps the melody is so catchy

that no-one notices what it’s really about?

Making The Invisible Visible

Alternatively, it may be that the way these tracks

put across the perpetrator as having good reason

for their actions, usually revenge, makes it sound

acceptable for them to have behaved in this way?

If the latter is taken as being accurate, this would

link back to the way the media usually defend

domestic abuse perpetrators or murderers as

being ‘tortured’ or ‘driven mad’ by the behaviour

of their victim. So, I conclude that, whilst many of

us speak out against victim blaming, by listening

to, downloading and singing along to tracks like

the ones cited above, we are actually colluding

with the perpetrators of domestic abuse and

agreeing that victims are to blame for their own

fate. This could then be the reason why most

domestic abuse and sexual violence services focus

on empowering victims and survivors to keep

themselves safe rather than seeking perpetrator

interventions and punishments. Maybe we should

be asking the perpetrator ‘Why, Why, Why?’

rather than the victim?


Jewkes, Rachel (2012), Intimate Partner Violence :

Causes and Prevention

Armstrong, Edward G (2001) Gangsta Misogyny: A content analysis

of the portrayals of violence against women in rap music,


Anderson, Craig & Carnagey, Nicholas L (2003) Exposure to Violent

Media: The Effects of Songs With Violent Lyrics on Aggressive

Thoughts and Feelings,"

The Guardian 2018, accessed on 30th September 2018

FACT Magazine 2017. Accessed on 30th September 2018

Jonel Thaller & Jill Theresa Messing (2014) (Mis)Perceptions

Around Intimate Partner Violence in the Music Video and Lyrics for

“Love the Way You Lie”, Feminist Media Studies, 14:4, 623-639,

DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2013.826267

Franiuk et al., (2017) ‘The Influence of Non-Misogynous and Mixed

Portrayals of Intimate Partner Violence in Music on Beliefs About

Intimate Partner Violence’

The Influence of Non-Misogynous and Mixed Portrayals of Intimate

Partner Violence in Music on Beliefs About Intimate Partner

Violence , 2016.

“whilst many of us speak out against victim blaming, by listening to, downloading and

singing along to tracks like the ones cited above, we are actually colluding with the

perpetrators of domestic abuse and agreeing that victims are to blame for their own


Sheila Simon, Greatest Hits: Domestic Violence in AmericanCountry

Music, 82 Or. L. Rev. 1107 (2003) The Mirror, 2017



The Irish Times 2016, accessed on 30th September 2018

Wikipedia, accessed on 30th September 2018


I would like to express my gratitude to Simon Kerss for his support

and encouragement

Songs referenced:

Eminem Featuring Rihanna, 2010. Love the Way You Lie

Johnny Cash, 1962. Delia’s Gone

Dixie Chicks, 1999. Goodbye Earl

The Crystals, 1963. In: He’s a Rebel. He Hit Me (and it Felt like a


Travis, 1999. In: The Man Who. The Blue Flashing Light

Hozier, 2016. Cherry Wine

Tom Jones, 1968. Delilah

Jimi Hendrix, 1966. Hey Joe

Suede, 1993. Animal Nitrate

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, 1995. Where the Wild Roses Grow

The Police, 1983. Every Breath you Take

Blondie, 1978. One Way or Another

Making The Invisible Visible

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