August 2020

The magazine on & around

coercive control







Editor's Notes

5 A documentary has Min thinking back to the

time she nearly died and how far she's come

since then.

The CCChat Interview

7 Rachel Meyrick - documentary film-maker

of What Doesn't Kill Me talks to CCChat.

The CCChat Interview

17 Teri Yuan- podcast host and director and

founder of the Engendered Collective

talks to CCChat

Special Screening

27 For Domestic Violence Awareness Month,

there is a special screening of What

Doesn't Kill Me, with a special Q&A


Parental Alienation

28 We look at Richard Gardner, who initially

preoposed the theory of Parental


The Chart of Coercion

31 Albert Biderman's research shows us

similarities between coercive tactics in

prisoner of war camps and the home.

MSc Psychology of Coercive Control

34 This is the only programme of its kind in

the world and is now being offered online

for the academic year 2020-21.

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 both

coercive and controlling.

Since then, there have been

several national

conferences as well as

smaller events.

Min’s interest lies in

recognising coercive control

in its initial stages, in

identifying the ‘red flags’ of

a potentially abusive

relationship before a person

becomes too invested in the

relationship, as that is when

it will be much more difficult

to leave, as well as the

challenges faced when

living with and recovering

from trauma.

Min has talked on

identifying covert abuse

and, with the use of

examples from social

media, she identifies a

number of covert tactics that

are commonly used to

manipulate. These tactics

will often be invisible in plain

sight- as the abuser seeks

to remain undetected.

Min is also a public speaker,

and speaks on both her

personal experience of

coercive control, family

courts and the livedexperience

of trauma - as

well as more generally of

abuse that is hidden in plain


Let's Grow The


To contact Min:


Photo by Alex Kilbee

What Hasn't Killed Me

Drives me to Raise Awareness

What many won't know is how close I came to dying. I say this because I

recently watched documentary filmmaker Rachel Meyrick's astonishing

documentary on domestic abuse and the family courts in America.

It is entitled 'What Doesn't Kill Me' so, not altogether unsurprisingly, I have

been thinking of how, on that October evening in 2011, and in the words of

the surgeon that saved my life, I came as close to dying as was possible.

The fact that the event happened in October - during Domestic Abuse

Awareness Month- is not lost on me.

Having spoken to many,many parents who have lived through abuse only

to be retraumatised by an unforgiving and misunderstanding family court, it

seems only natural that this issue of CCChat should be dedicated to the

documentary and to what is happening around the family court - not just in

the UK but globally. The level of misunderstanding - not only of the

dynamics of abuse, especially coercive control - but also the many ways in

which both parties present and the complete lack of understanding around

trauma responses results in a system that does not meet the requirements

of a basic system of justice.

The recent publication of the expert-led review into how the family courts

handle domestic abuse and other serious offences highlighted numerous

significant concerns. It found that the adversarial process often worsened

conflict and retraumatised victims. It will be interesting to see what

develops but, what is clear, is that changes need to be made.

As well as this, the Domestic Abuse Bill, which is making its way through

Parliament at the moment, has recently had it's First Reading in the House

of Lords meaning that there will be a continuing and much needed focus on

domestic abuse and how it is considered in the family courts.

Making The Invisible Visible

The CCChat Interview


Rachel Meyrick has

been a film editor for 20

years. She began in

commercials in Soho,

London alongside

editor, Sam Sneade

(Sexy Beast, The

Favourite) before

moving into features

herself ( LOVE,



LAND) and long form



Rachel has completed

her first feature

documentary as



KILL ME about

domestic violence and

the battle for child

custody in the US, was

released to great acclaim

in 2017, it has been used

by educators to

influence change in

social policy,

including the UN.

In 2018, she edited A


UNIVERSE (produced

by Loran Dunn); a

groundbreaking feature

documentary about a

man’s journey to get

pregnant. She has

worked for Britdoc,

More 4, BBC films,

Discovery and BFI

among many



Meyrick is a film editor . The

absolutely phenomenal documentary

looking at the family courts in America,

WHAT DOESN'T KILL ME , is her first

feature documentary as a producer/


M: Rachel, thank you so much for agreeing to this

interview. It’s a real pleasure to be able to have the

opportunity to be able to do this. I saw your film last week

and was completely blown away by it. What made you

decide to do it?

R: It started off a long time ago. I am a film editor- that’s

what I normally do and I was editing a promo film for a

shelter in Arkansas, randomly, via a friend of mine who is

from the area, sort of as a favour.

There was a little old lady in the film, a survivor, called

Charlotta Harrison, she was, like 81 or something and had

survived this 60 year marriage and had got away from her

violent husband and it was just a ridiculously amazing

story of bravery and she just really beguiled me. I spoke to

my boss, at the time, who is another editor and I said I

wanted to make a short film about this woman and so he

lent me some money and I went out Oklahoma to meet her

and she was amazing and is amazing and so I shot a film

about her and she suggested I go to the local shelter to see

where she went when she left.

She took me there and I met the person who runs it and

several people who were there and they were telling me

that they advise their clients, when they’re going to court

about custody, to not mention domestic violence in their

court case as it would be detrimental towards them and I

said no, that’s ridiculous, that can’t possibly be true

because it would help. They said no, it doesn’t and I just

couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it. I just could not

believe that that was real. When I was also there, I met a

young woman , Misty, who is in the film, and she was very

pregnant and gave birth whilst I was still there and had

asked me to go and film the birth and so I did that.

Making The Invisible Visible

" they were telling me that they advise their clients, when they’re going to court

about custody, to not mention domestic violence in their court case as it would be

detrimental towards them."

Rachel Meyrick

R: I went back the next day to say goodbye to

the shelter and they told me that Misty had

come back to the shelter and they had taken

the baby away because they had deemed her

not to be a suitable person to be bringing up

a baby because she was in a shelter.

I vomited.I was so outraged. And then I had

to get on a plane and I was just raging all the

way home just thinking what can I do? What

can I do? This was so outrageous. And she

was just the most amazing, incredible strong

woman who had managed to get away from

her abuser. It was so disgusting. I then

decided I was going to use my ability – I have

limited abilities but one of my abilities is to

tell stories with film and so I thought, right,

I’m going to tell the story of what happened

to her and I’m going to find out why this is

happening . So that was how it began.

M: That's just unbelievable, but then it's not.

And it happens more than you'd think.

I hear this a lot, and I’ve certainly

experienced it myself, this idea that you

don’t mention abuse otherwise you might

lose the children. Why do you think,

mainly women are advised that? I’ve

always asked but I’ve never had a decent


R: I know, that is the problem. I spent 6

years making the film trying to find the

answer to that. There’s such a hugely

diverse amount of answers to that

question. I think the way people look at

survivors of abuse is wrong. I think

they’re looked at as weak and they’re not

valued humans. I don’t think they’re

given the same rights as normal people in

the world. They’re looked at in a different

way with such loaded views they can’t

escape from, no matter what they try to

do to overcome it.

Making The Invisible Visible

R: The children often stay in court until

they’ve aged out. And then they can make

their own choices. Jennifer Collins – her

mother ran away with her and left the

country and claimed asylum from

domestic violence in another country. It

was the first time that asylum had been

given for domestic violence, from another

country. And that was a really crazy thing

to do. Other people had tried to do it but,

for some reason, she was so tenacious

that she succeeded.

The whole film is about this answer, why I

spent 6 years having to go back because I

wasn’t getting the answer to the question

and even though I feel like I answered it,

there’s so many different aspects to it;

judges; sexism and there’s a whole

industry out there that is geared to make

money from people in this situation –

especially in America, which is so litigious


If you’ve got money – usually it’s the man

who has the money – you can hire

experts, you can hire all sorts of people

for a price, to come to court and give

evidence against the mother of the


M: I’ve noticed that there are a lot of high

conflict divorce experts in America which

seems to be different from the UK – for

now at least.

R: And if these cases can be kept in court

for as long as possible, everyone stands to

make money, so these decisions aren’t

made quickly because that doesn’t make

enough money.

M: This is something that I definitely see

but, from my understanding, is

something much more prevalent in

America. Admittedly, my knowledge is

limited to my own experience and those

of people I talk to, but it paints a picture

that, as soon as you mention abuse, and if

there’s no criminal conviction, so no,

what is considered as cast iron and

irrefutable evidence, it doesn't get

investigated, you may get a fact finding

hearing where a judge looks at maybe a

maximum of six incidents- and that is if

you are one of the lucky ones. Then a

judge makes a finding based on his or her

understanding of abuse which obviously

has a huge impact on the decision


Another thing I have come across - and

I'm sure many lawyers will deny it - is

that they tell clients not to mention abuse

and yet I’ve experienced it and so have

many others. It's almost as though the

fear of being accused of parental

alienation outweighs the need to prove

abuse. It's the only reason, I can see, for

why so many lawyers say it, but the

profession, on the whole would deny it?

R: It’s true, why would they say it


M: Are you familiar with the Tsimhoni


R: That was happening when I last was in


Making The Invisible Visible

M : It’s the most horrifying case Ive heard

of. The children were put in a- I can’t

remember what it’s called - some

detention type centre because they

wouldn’t see the father. The judge in the

was disciplined, I think. I can’t

remember. She lost it with the children

and likened the eldest, who was only 14,

to Charles Manson.

I keep thinking about the children. I keep

wondering how they are, who they are

with and whether or not they are happy.

Let’s go back, we seem to have got a little

bit side-tracked. How did you decide

which direction to take with the

documentary and how did you come

about choosing who to interview for it?

You interviewed many hugely respected

experts such as Joan Meier, Marianne

Hester and Evan Stark.

R: So the first trip was to see Charlotta

and I met Misty, so I’d been in contact

with Ruth Jones OBE formerly of Bristol

Uni and she was kind of advising me and

she said, you need to speak to Evan Stark,

he is a friend of mine and I can introduce

you to him, how about I come along with

you on your next trip because I’d love to

see how you work and she came with me

to Oklahoma and she met Charlotta, she

met Brian, Charlotta’s son.

The first trip we did was to Galveston in

Texas – for the Texas Conference on

Family Violence so my first major

interview of an expert was Evan and, as

you can imagine, I was petrified. I didn’t

really know what I was supposed to be

asking him because I didn’t really know

my way around the subject yet, because I

didn’t really understand about why the

hell this was happening, so I didn’t have

the questions for him, so, he was my first

major expert and if I had got him at the

end, my God, I’d have asked him

completely different questions. He’s an

incredible person.

Making The Invisible Visible

R: One of the things that someone really

kindly said to me was someone who

works with victims of domestic abuse, she

worked in a shelter. She watched it at a

screening and she put her hand up

afterwards and said that she was really

appreciative of how I had represented the

victims, because she found that on screen

they’re not usually represented very well.

R: That was a real shocker as I didn’t

know what I was doing and it made me

realise I’d come across something so huge

and so complex but of course he gave me

loads of information and he talked about

Marianne in Bristol and that the whole

3-planet model is the essence of the whole


So, in the film, I was at the Battered

Mothers Custody Conference in New York

and I set my camera up in this corridor

and I was there at the conference for 2

days and the woman running the

conference had announced to everybody

that if anyone would like to tell their

story, there’s a film maker here, she’s

going to be sitting over there. Nobody

came to see me and the, one evening, at

the end of the day, someone came to see

me and so you’ve got to walk down this

corridor and sit in a chair and by the time

you sit in a chair, you're in the focus play

of the image but the rest of the walk is out

of focus, so you have these long walks, of

the women, back and forth and I used

that as an artistic device, if you will.

“I did 6 hours of talking to the women, hearing these horrific stories and then

the last person left and there was just me in this empty corridor in a hotel

and it was just like I’d been hit by a bus”

Rachel Meyrick

R: When I was talking to Marianne in

Bristol, she was describing the 3-planet

model. There’s a small clip in the

documentary, and there’s a little

animation which goes with it that makes

it really clear and it’s really the hub and

the essence of women leaving domestic

violence and why they hide abuse and

cover it up. It’s a hard film to watch

M: But it’s so necessary and it explained it

so well and in such a way that makes

people actually sit up and take notice.

The woman who was talking to me about

this thought it was so empowering for

these women to walk to this chair and sit

down and speak and that they were

honestly portrayed, anyway, so when I

was at the conference, nobody came to

see me until the end of the last day and

there was a queue of people.

I think I did 6 hours of talking to the

women, hearing these horrific stories and

then the last person left and there was

just me in this empty corridor in a hotel

and it was just like I’d been hit by a bus,

you know, and there was no one around -

everyone had gone.

Making The Invisible Visible

"People don’t want to know, they genuinely don’t want to know – it’s too hard to

take in, too hard to believe that this many people are suffering – right next door.

It’s too hard to know that, because then they’d have to take responsibility for it."

Rachel Meyrick

R: I was staying in this hotel and I went

across the road to the Red Lobster and

ordered two margaritas.

M: I can imagine. There’s all this emotion

and what do you do with it? I actually

recognised one of the women and I’m

actually going to be talking to her next


R: How you you feel she was portrayed in

the film?

M: I wanted to cry.

M: Going back to what you said about

how victims of abuse don’t often come

across well on film, I think what tends to

happen, and I’ve seen this with a lot of

documentaries, there are various people

talking about victims of abuse- police,

frontline workers, even people who work

directly with victims and there’s this

othering that goes on. It’s always ‘these

women’ it’s almost like there is a 'them

and us' situation and what I got with your

documentary is that this isn’t about them

and us, this could be any one of us. I

mean, in my case, it actually was but if

circumstances were a little bit different,

this could happen to anyone of us.

R: I really wanted to get that across.

Making The Invisible Visible

R: She’s so alive now. She must have been

subduing her personality.

M: Rachel, for anyone reading this, who

did you talk to in the film?

R: I spoke to Joan Meier, Evan Stark,

Marianne Hester, I spoke to ex-judge

DeAnn Salcido, I spoke to Barry

Goldstein, I spoke to Jennifer Collins, a

surviving child, who is a huge force of a

woman. I spoke to Kathleen Russell, who

is the executive director of the Center for

Judicial Justice, Hope Loudon, she’s

brilliant and she’s a surviving child.

M: And you did it so well.

R: That was really important to me. All

those shots I did, across America, of

driving past people’s houses, I wanted

people to go ‘ Oh, I live in a house like

that’ and what I wanted to happen was to

have the story of Charlotta , the person

who didn’t leave, and the other women

who did leave and then Tammy who takes

us to this place and then suddenly there

are all these women from all over.

M: Without giving too much away, the

part of the documentary that really

touched a nerve was when Charlotta was

talking about the objects he’d used as a

weapon but there were still sentimental

memories attached to the objects even

though they had been used as weapons. It

was just the conflict of emotions she must

have felt.

R: I know, I’ve been to her house and feel

that everything happened in that house

yet she’s still living there and she’s such

an incredible woman, I mean I think

Charlotta is raging against time. She only

divorced him when she was 81, 82 I can’t

remember, then he died a few years later.

If I was to do it all again, I would

concentrate on the surviving children.

The surviving children weren’t party to

the decision making, they seem so


M: Speak to the children. That’s exactly

how Jess Hill approaches it. People talk

about parental alienation and false

allegations, but you need to talk to the

children to find out how the decisions

impacted them.

R: That film took so much to make, it was

really hard to do and really taxing and

also, nobody funded me, I crowdfunded

to raise money for flights and hotels but I

certainly didn’t get paid but if someone

were to commission me, I’d totally do it

from the child’s point of view – the

surviving children, the aged-out children

because people don’t want to know, they

genuinely don’t want to know – it’s too

hard to take in, too hard to believe that

this many people are suffering – right

next door. It’s too hard to know that,

because then they’d have to take

responsibility for it. So I think the

children would get more attention. Their

voices are so powerful, so strong.

M: And they lived it, so it can't simply be

reduced to two different versions of what

happened, it’s the experience of the child.

Making The Invisible Visible

R: The kids are used as pawns in this

situation. They’re really used and it’s not

right. The fact that this film could be

made in this country and still can be

made in this country is really important. I

think it’s important to recognise that this

is what’s happening in this country. It’s

not just America.

M: There are certain things that create a

huge fanfare at the time but then fizzle

out to nothing and there are some things

that get under your skin. I mean really get

under your skin and have a lasting

impact. Your documentary was like that

for me. It’s something that will dictate the

direction I take in my awareness raising

work from hereon. Thank you so much

for this interview.

For more on Rachel Meyrick's

documentary 'What Doesn't Kill Me':

Making The Invisible Visible

The CCChat


Teri Yuan

Making The Invisible Visible

“This, in my opinion, is the largest crisis affecting women

amongst the English speaking world. ”

Teri Yuan

Me: Teri, thank you so much for agreeing

to this interview for CCChat. I’ve been

looking forward to talking to you for a

while but, for whatever reason, haven’t

been able to manage it but, by sheer

coincidence, I was watching a screening

of Rachel Meyrick’s documentary What

Doesn’t Kill Me and saw you in it, so

here we are, finally. So the first question I

have for you is, what made you do the


T: I had become very active in the gender

justice community since becoming a

protective mom and I have been

attending the Battered Mothers Custody

Conference since 2008 and Rachel was

actually present at the Conference. To the

extent that we don’t have gag orders, we

are always eager to get the word out and

bring awareness to the community that

this, in my opinion, is the largest

crisis affecting women amongst the

English speaking world.

The laws are very similar in how it is

implemented and its negative impact on

women and children.

M: I remember hearing, and I can’t

remember who exactly, but I think it may

have been Helena Kennedy QC who said

it, that the law was written by men for


T: I think that’s true in all societies all

over the world. Men are dictating who

gets what freedoms and rights and

certainly all over the world they’re still

trying to control women’s bodies.

Making The Invisible Visible

T: I’ve been attending since 2008. I was

first informed by Nancy Erickson, who

has now become a friend. She is a

domestic violence adviser to attorneys

and she was an adviser in my case. She

informed me that there was not just this

conference but there was this battered

women and protective mothers

movement and that there were going to

be survivors, advocates and practitioners

in that space, where I could learn from.

I’ve been going almost every year because

it is the only place where I can, in one

space, access information around what is

happening in the law and what people are

working on to make changes in policy and

to include my voice in that process.

M: I think that even if the intention isn’t

there, it happens by default

T: Yes, reproductive justice is one of the

ways they are doing so and I think this is

just one form of reproductive justice that

is being denied.

M: Could you expand on that?

T: Sure. My definition of reproductive

justice is having the access and freedom

to the healthcare you need, to make

decisions around whether and if and

when you want to become pregnant.

Sexual coercion is something that

happens a lot in intimate partner violence

relationships and to the extent that you

may want to have a child but you don’t

want to parent with your abuser, that’s a

restriction on reproductive justice and

also on the freedoms of both the victims,

survivor and the children because they

are not able to live a life free from power

and control and coercive control.

M: So what made you decide to attend the


I subscribe to Evan Stark’s definition of

coercive control as a gendered liberty

crime and the idea is that under

patriarchy men use coercive control as a

tactic to maintain their male privilege and

supremacy and engage in tactics that

limit the freedoms of their victims, mainly

women, from exercising agency, so

agency over their bodies, over their daily

lives, over whether or not they can have

joy in the world and certainly one of the

ways they do so is through their children.

I want to add that, for you and I and those

of us in the community who subscribe to

this definition that there is a global

pandemic against violence against

women. It shows up mainly in femicide

but there are a whole host of other ways

in which sexism, exploitation, oppression

and violence show up in our lives and

coercive control is a way to capture all of

the different tactics that de-centre the

physical aspects of the harm and

centralise the liberty – human rights –

aspects, to the point where physical harm

and threats of physical harm are not even


Victims of coercive control engage in selfpolicing

or self-surveillance tactics

because of the fear or the threat of, not

necessarily physical harm, but other

forms of restrictions on their lives and so

Making The Invisible Visible

it’s very distinct from high conflict

situations that the courts always get

wrong, where they like to conflate these

two experiences.

High conflict is where two parties are

vying for power and coercive control is

where there is one party, normally the

man, who is more prominent.

There is a hierarchy of power and he is

definitely more powerful and has access

to, and uses those set of tactics to

maintain domination over the other –

and so it’s important that we debunk this

term, ‘high conflict’ as being used to

describe coercive control and domestic


sides as they don’t have to go to the effort

of investigating who the primary abuser

is-if there is one.

Coercive control is complex and requires

a much greater level of awareness and

professional curiosity. It also suits the

abusive partner to claim it’s both, as a

way of watering down their own actions.

T: I think also there is a lot of cultural

pressure and bias that comes in, that

shows up as gender bias in the decisions

and actions of the courtroom, so that all

of the actors in the space aren’t required

to examine their gender bias, and aren’t

penalised when making decisions that

have harmful consequences because of

that bias and continue because nobody is

“Nobody is challenging them, nobody is creating protocols

that hold them accountable.”

Teri Yuan

A lot of people who are working in this

space, I’m sure you’ve encountered it as

well, but certainly for me in New York

City, there’s a lot of people who get

confused that coercive control and

domestic abuse is not a gendered crime

because they think that , if it happens in

same sex relationships, then we should

de-gender domestic abuse and that is not

the case because the tactics themselves

are enabled under patriarchy to maintain

male domination and power and anybody

can engage in those tactics, like women

can uphold patriarchal values by

supporting people like Donald Trump.

M: You’ve explained that really well. I’ve

never been able to adequately explain

how, even though domestic abuse is

gendered, men can also be victims.

My thoughts on high conflict is that

people are conflating it with coercive

control because it’s easier to blame both

challenging them, nobody is creating

protocols that hold them accountable.

And so, as the documentary says, there is

a whole system of people who continue to

benefit or profit from supporting people

who are empowered – which is the

monied party, which is usually the man -

because of the gender wage gap and

whatnot and also, if you are upholding

the truth and that truth lies in challenging

the system and there are not enough of

you to challenge the system, then you’re

going to be ostracised from the system

and retaliated against- if you’re a player

in the system.

M: I’ve certainly seen that. I know quite a

few lawyers/social workers who will talk

privately about their concerns of the

family court but they would not voice it

publically, for fear of it having a

detrimental impact on their livelihood, on

it having an effect on decision making in

the courtroom.

Making The Invisible Visible

Teri, you are the founder of Engendered

podcast, could you tell me a little more?

T: Yes, I’m the producer and host and I

started that in response to my advocacy

work in New York. I was on a task force

for domestic violence and I started out

being wide eyed and hopeful that this

would be an opportunity for me, as a

survivor voice, to provide my input

around what I knew were the gaps in the

system - what survivors needed and what

interventions needed to be implemented

to help survivors- and I quickly found

that space was not a space for making

systemic change.

And so I started my podcast as a way to

bring awareness to the larger community

hadn’t experienced it, but if I explained it

in terms of what was happening in cults,

it seemed to be much easier for people to

understand why a victim might not be

able to leave.

I don’t know what you’ve found, but in

the UK, there is this belief that coercive

control just happens in a relationship,

when, in fact, it’s everywhere in society.

T: You’ve read Jess Hill’s book. Part of

what I’ve found, and by the way, I think

that book is the best book on domestic

violence and coercive control that exists

and everybody needs to read that book.

Jess talks, in the book, of the chart of

coercion and Albert Biderman comparing

prisoners of war and the tactics used with

"I quickly found that space was not a space for

making systemic change. "

Teri Yuan

about gender based violence, but also

there’s a whole series of episodes, over a

dozen, that have dealt with the family

court crisis. The goal of the podcast is to

build a cultural literacy about abuse and

abusive power rooted in sexism and sexist

oppression because so much of what is

happening in the world, we accept and

name, if it’s outside of the home.

Making those connections is really

important because if you don’t have the

language to name what is happening in

your home, but you’re experiencing the

same things- whether it’s in your home,

your workplace or your politics, it helps

people to be able to stand up, learn how

to be a witness to these experiences and

actively do something about it, not just be

a bystander.

M: I totally agree. The thing I’ve noticed

is that it was actually really difficult to

explain coercive control to someone who

prisoners of war and so anyone who’s

been in the military should understand

that these are the same tactics. I don’t

even think we need to go so far as to even

use the analogy with Trump and all the

authoritarian figures in government.

I interviewed Leta Hong Fincher about

Chinese feminists and in her book

Betraying Big Brother, she basically talks

about coercive control but on a state


To me it’s just amazing because everyone

recognises that China and all these others

governments are engaging in state level

coercive control yet the same exact tactics

are happening in the home and they can’t

recognise it and refuse to confront it, so I

just keep bringing it back to this analogy:

This is happening, in this space, and it’s

the same thing that’s happening in your

home. Now, everybody in the world

Making The Invisible Visible

should be able to recognise control

because we all agree, for the most part,

that Donald Trump is a coercive

controller so if you want to give anyone

an example, you just point to his tactics.

M: To that I’d also add Weinstein,

Epstein, the NXIVM cult and that’s just

last year.

T: There’s a playbook for it

T: I’ve been trying to put out weekly

episodes. (117 episodes at time of

publishing this magazine). I try to cover,

very broadly, the themes, I see the

podcast as a blueprint for understanding

sexism and misogyny in our world and so

every episode is like a piece of the puzzle

in how we can end sexism and misogyny.

It may not deal directly with domestic

violence and coercive control but it deals

with the variables that shape and imprint

our gender roles, culture, society, media

and all of those ways in which women

participate in our own enslavement.

M: Can you also speak a little about the

Engendered Collective?

T: I started the Engendered Collective

because I was very frustrated at

navigating the various spaces of advocacy,

and you and I spoken about this before,

where people who either work for

agencies that serve survivors or are selfidentified

feminists, if they use that term,

or victim advocates, that there’s not this

unifying language around what is the

problem that we’re trying to address and

what is the root cause and what are the


Making The Invisible Visible

I was a very voracious reader and

consumer of content with regard to all of

these issues that impacted me in family

court and, going back to Rachel’s film,

I’ve interviewed several of the people in

the film because I know them personally

and from all the years of attending BMCC

(Battered Mothers Custody Conference)

and I feel like I have a set of ideas of how

we can address this.

So I created the Engendered Collective

partly so that there would be a place

where we can look for those solutions and

share those best practices so that people

who are going through similar things can

both be educated about it, because that’s

what they’re experiencing, or because

they want to be an ally and informed

towards increasing accountability for

abuse and abusive power rooted in

sexism, sexist oppression and sexual

exploitation and so domestic violence is

one of them, the family court, issues

around understanding coercive control,

making sure that we are putting together

a template to educate people all around

the world, but also working with other

groups who are trying to criminalise it.

We’re trying to do that in the US as well,

state by state and it’s helpful to come

together with other people who have

experienced it already.

"You’ve already had 5 years of this law to learn

what’s worked and what’s not worked."

Teri Yuan

about how to help with these various

issues, but also because I wanted to

elevate the best practices and people who

are in this space and show who was ‘ safe’

and who was a genuine ally, in my

opinion, because a lot of people who are

working in this space, I don’t perceive as

necessarily a genuine ally and so it’s a way

for me to also help identify who I should

reach out to.

Who are the people putting out the best

solutions and ideas so that globally we

can access it. So it’s not in any way trying

to compete with non-profits and

organisations out there , but it’s sort of

like an aggregator of the best practices

and ideas for people who are prioritising

abuser accountability and that is one of

our main tenets in our theory of change,

it’s that we are working in the advocacy

front ,

You’ve already had 5 years of this law to

learn what’s worked and what’s not

worked, so we can put forward the best

language and to anticipate the kind of

opposition we’re going to get, maybe even

create additional solutions that might not

be in the laws already, so that we can

garner the greatest support.

And the second advocacy effort that I’m

just exploring is working with this

organisation on developing a Court

Watch app which hopefully will be

available not just to litigants in the US but

also globally and the idea would be - there

is no transparency around family court

and Joan Meier’s research only deals with

the US – to collect that kind of data,

similar to the ways in which Black Lives

Matter, as a movement have been able to

use police data around racist policing and

racist policing outcomes to question and

hopefully dismantle qualified immunity

for police officers.

Making The Invisible Visible

harm to the victims and the children it


So I’m a great believer in having specialist

family courts that deal with domestic

abuse that, not only, understand domestic

abuse but also the connected issues such

as child contact decisions, but also

maintenance payments because, at the

moment, there is not enough joined up

thinking, certainly not around

recognising that witholding child

maintenance is financial abuse as it has

an impact not only on the parent who

should be in receipt of it, but everyone in

that household.

We want to dismantle immunity for

judges and lawyers and mental health

providers who are biased in their

perspective, who come to the table

thinking that survivors make things up,

that women make things up and there’s

no abuse.

All of the different connections around

post separation abuse such as abusers

who claim parental alienation, parents

who are refusing child contact unless it is

on their terms or issues over schooling

and kids clubs , that have a direct impact

on the victim/survivor parent but is often

ignored when it needs to form part of the

greater picture of harms that aggregate

and detrimentally impact a parent’s

ability to parent effectively.

"We want to dismantle immunity for judges and lawyers and mental health

providers who are biased in their perspective, who come to the table

thinking that survivors make things up"

Teri Yuan

So these people should not be working in

these positions and making these

decisions, causing additional harm that

actually ripples through society for

generations and has a huge economic


M: I think that is a really good idea. I’ve

always thought that there needs to be a

database of judges’ decision making - a

record from which we could, if needed,

identify which judges have a consistently

poor record in this area so the ones that

are identified need to not be hearing these

cases as their decision making is causing

I don’t know what it’s like in the US, by all

accounts it seems to be worse than here in

the UK, but even so, professionals can

have a very entrenched view that they will

not be budged from, so there needs to be

a way of ascertaining a person’s biased

leanings – and not just for someone who

knows which professional to go to, to

obtain a report that is favourable to their

client but there should be an open record

of decision making that shows a track

record of bias, so that people know that

this person is likely to favour a certain

outcome because, despite their stated

neutrality, this is their belief system.

Making The Invisible Visible

T: I certainly don’t think criminalising

coercive control is the only answer. We

need to have a multi-pronged approach,

and part of the legislation should include

creating protocols for accountability, so

that even if someone isn’t trained –

although ideally everyone would be

trained – that the information that is

being shared – if they subscribe to it or

not, they are actually implementing and

using, so there is a protocol for objectively

identifying what are these set of

behaviours, is it credible?

Almost like having an objective check list

where, if you don’t abide by it and you

substitute your judicial discretion, there

is a negative outcome, not necessarily by

the state but by this app where we can say

‘ 90% of the time, this judge has not

believed survivors despite accepting

evidence that there was abuse and

holding the legislators and other people

accountable so if they allow these people

to stay in power, that they are held

responsible for the healthcare and safety

consequences and so, personally, people

have suggested that police should get

liability insurance, and I agree, I think all

these people should get insurance and the

more they are sued, there should be a

point where they can no longer afford to

be in those positions because they just

keep making bad decisions.

Over time, if someone sues you enough,

the cost of staying in that role becomes

too high.

M: The Court Watch app could also

publish reviews.

T: I’d have to investigate the privacy

aspects, but I can imagine that if one

individual, a bad actor, has made lots of

bad decisions and that is somehow

Making The Invisible Visible

able to be transparently shared with the

public, that the people who have been

victimised, can show intent and

potentially go against immunity.

Dismantle the immunity laws and

protection but even if we can’t, we can use

it to create transparency so that, at some

point, the public outrage will supersede

the desire to protect these individuals,

like what you were saying about Harvey


At some point the enterprise tumbles

down because the people who are

upholding it decide to give up

participating and complicitly keeping it


in society, we can address coercive

control, we can address poverty and

current social problems that come with

abuse. You don’t have mass shootings in

the UK but you have acid attacks and


In other parts of the world they use

different tactics but sexism and misogyny

shows up, so if you happen to be a

bystander physically present in an

altercation, and you get harmed, so

there’s a cost in human lives.

M: Certainly the social and economic cost

of domestic violence is huge, in the UK it

has been estimated as being £66 billion.

“At some point the enterprise tumbles down because the people who are

upholding it decide to give up participating and complicitly keeping it upright.”

Teri Yuan

M: There needs to be a much greater

understanding of the bystander’s role in

this, because I think the issue is that even

if many people are aware, most won’t

know what to do about it, how to help,

how to report, how to complain.

T: I think for me, one of the ways that

bystanders can help is to be aware that

this is an issue. A lot of people refer to it

as a private matter and I’m beginning to

use the term gendered terrorism. We

need to see these as crimes against

humanity. If half the population is not

free and is enslaved, then you are going to

not be as productive and as healthy as a

society and, because of all the trauma that

survivors and children experience, there

is an actual cost to society.

If we can start shifting the language so

that people realise it does affect them and

that, to the extent that we can address

domestic violence we can address crimes

T: And that isn’t the full cost to society

because it doesn’t include the opportunity

cost of the victim and her children. It

doesn’t include their future ability to

contribute to society.

M: That’s true. It’s not something that’s

really talked about and it needs to be.

Teri Yuan was talking to Min Grob.

Engendered Podcast is available

everywhere podcasts are found.

More information on Engendered

Collective can be found here:

Making The Invisible Visible

Focus on:

Richard A. Gardner


here are numerous reasons for why a parent might

deliberately disrupt the relationship a child has with

the other parent. Nowadays, these reasons are often

conflated into a catchy phrase: 'parental alienation'

but not many people are aware of the origins of this

term, nor the views of the man who created it.

There has been growing concern of how the term ‘parental alienation’ has

slipped into the everyday parlance of both family court hearings and child

contact arrangements and how this term is being weaponsised by abusive

parents as both a way to threaten a parent from leaving an abusive

relationship but also as a way of counteracting allegations of domestic abuse.

Critics of the term and how it is applied, refer to Richard Gardner's views on

paedophilia and his belief that 90% of mothers lie about abuse, especially

sexual abuse of a father to child.

The term originated from psychiatrist Richard Alan Gardner (1931 -2003)

who graduated from Columbia University in 1952 and, after completing

residencies in both adult and child psychiatry, was certified, in 1966, as a


In his 1990, in his book on false allegations of sexual abuse, Sex Abuse

Hysteria: Salem Witch Trial Revisited Gardner wrote: “One of the steps that

society must take to deal with the present hysteria is to 'come off it' and take a

more realistic attitude toward paedophilic behaviour," He wrote,, in his 1992

book True and False Allegations of Child Sex Abuse : "The child should be

able to pity the father for the curse of having pedophilic tendencies. In other

times and other places, he would be considered normal."

Gardner theorised that any mother who accused her spouse of abusing the

children was lying more or less by definition. He believed that the purpose of

the lies was to "alienate" the children from their father, and that the mother

deserved to lose all custody rights in favour of the father, for her actions in

"programming" the children to repeat her lies.

He believed that mothers alleging abuse were expressing, in disguised form,

their own sexual inclinations towards their own children. He further

suggested that there was nothing wrong with paedophilia, incestuous or not,

that paedophilia "is a widespread and accepted practice among literally

billions of people".

Making The Invisible Visible

Gardner wrote prolifically but the books

he produced from the late 1980s onwards

were all self-published and without the

usual peer review process. In what he

considered to be extreme cases of

alienation, he recommended “Threat

Therapy” whereby the parent he claimed

was “ brainwashing” the children would

be threatened with jail unless the children

agreed to contact with the allegedly

abusive parent. Custody would also be

transferred to the alleged abusive parent

with a period of several months of no

contact between the child and so-called

alienating parent as part of the

'reunification' process. "Threat therapy"

was part of a much broader theory of

Gardner's known in family courts as

"Parental Alienation Syndrome".

Nathan Grieco, aged 16

In a contentious child custody dispute,

the three teenage Grieco brothers begged

a family court judge not to force them to

continue visits to their father because he

was physically abusive towards them.

Rather than believe the boys, the judge

relied on the testimony of an expert

witness retained by the father, a

Columbia University professor of clinical

psychiatry, Richard A. Gardner. Gardner

insisted the boys were lying as a result of

brainwashing by their mother and

recommended "threat therapy".

"In an interview, when asked what a mother should do if the child

disclosed sexual abuse by the father, Gardner responded: “ What would

she day? Don’t you say that about your father. If you do, I’ll beat you.”

Courts deferred to Gardner's academic

credentials and put children in the

custody of their alleged abuser, EVEN in

cases where police records, medical

records and testimony by teachers and

social workers supported the mother's


In an interview, when asked what a

mother should do if the child disclosed

sexual abuse by the father, Gardner

responded: “What would she day? Don’t

you say that about your father. If you do,

I’ll beat you.”

Gardner died by suicide in 2003 having

stabbed himself several times in the chest

and neck, before stabbing himself in the

heart. His obituary in the New York

Times was corrected, on 14th June 2003,

to clarify that his position at Columbia

University was misstated and that he was

NOT a professor of child psychiatry but

an unpaid volunteer.

The Grieco boys were told they should be

respectful and obedient on visits to their

father and, if they were not, their mother

would go to jail. “These children need

coercion,”Gardner had said.

Nathan Grieco,who was 16 and the eldest

of the brothers, hanged himself in his

bedroom, leaving behind a diary in which

he wrote that life had become an "endless

torment". Both Gardner and the court

were unrepentant about their decision -

even after the suicide. It was only after an

exposé in the local newspaper that

custody arrangements for the two

surviving boys were changed.

Should we really still be continuing using

the term 'parental alienation', when its

origins have been shown to be so

intensely problematic? I think it's time to

look at identifying disrupted child contact


Making The Invisible Visible

Albert Biderman's

Chart of Coercion

Biderman's research found that the captors used eight

techniques in order to elicit dependency, debility and dread.

In 1956, Albert D. Biderman, a

psychologist, described the coercive

tactics used by Chinese communists,

who ran the prisoner of war camps in

North Korea.

He charted the tactics used to elicit

'false confessions' from American

prisoners of war who were held during

the Korean War.

These tactics led American prisoners

to being ' brain washed' into confessing

to all manner of war crimes, including

biological warfare against the North

Koreans and Chinese. Biderman

argued that none of it was true. The

American prisoners told their Chinese

interrogators whatever they wanted to

hear to make the torture stop.

Biderman's research found that the

captors used eight techniques in order

to elicit dependency, debility and


These eight techniques were:

- isolation

- monopolisation of perception

- induced debility or exhaustion

- cultivation of anxiety and despair

- intermittent punishment and reward

- demonstrations of omnipotence

- degradation

- enforcement of trivial demands

Based on Biderman’s research and the

experiences of POWs in the Korean

War, the military set up special

training to teach soldiers to resist such


In 1973, Amnesty International

included Biderman's 'Chart of

Coercion' in its 'Report on Torture'

which quotes:

' The most effective way to gain

cooperation is through subversive

manipulation of the mind and feelings

of the victim, who then becomes a

psychological, as well as a physical,


Making The Invisible Visible

MSc Psychology of

Coercive Control


Making The Invisible Visible

This is the only programme

of its kind in the world

Learn about the psychology of coercive

control in domestic abuse, families, abusive

groups, trafficking, gangs, and how to help

those affected.

This course provides advanced insights

and knowledge of cutting-edge practice and

research about coercive control and

behaviour and its development and effects on

individuals, families and organisations.

You will receive tailored support from a

highly experienced and qualified team of

psychology and professional staff who are

involved in advancing practice and research

regarding the prevention, effects and

recovery from coercive and controlling


You will be very well placed to advance your

career in a variety of professions where the

government is seeking to develop provision

for the prevention of and recovery from

coercive control and abuse and you will also

be very well prepared to apply for a

professional doctorate and research career

paths in psychology and other relevant


The course breakdown is as follows:


one year F/T or three years P/T


eight months F/T or two years P/T


four months F/T or nine months P/T

Please note:

From September 2020, this course will be

delivered via distance learning.

You will: Gain a deep appreciation of

contemporary approaches to the

prevention of, and recovery from, coercive

control and abuse in domestic settings, in

trafficking and in organisations more


Be supported by a highly qualified and

experienced team in professional staff in

advancing your career in a variety of 'in

demand' professions relating to coercion

and abuse or towards a professional

doctorate in psychology or related


Develop an advanced understanding

of the psychology of coercive control and

cutting-edge research and practice in this


Placement options available International

students accepted FAQs information for

students joining us in September 2020

Making The Invisible Visible

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