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Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life

NCJ Number
Evan Stark
Date Published
464 pages
In providing a model for understanding incidents of domestic violence, this book demonstrates how physical abuse is linked to three equally important perpetrator tactics: intimidation, isolation, and control.
Part I traces the domestic-violence revolution from its initial promise in the early shelter movement to its current stagnation; profiles the range of reforms the revolution inaugurated; and documents its limited success in achieving its goals, i.e., safety, justice, and empowerment for victims and accountability for offenders. Part II links the limitations of the domestic-violence revolution to three flaws in the current strategy: its failure to provide a useful analysis of abuse, the failure to explain the durability of abusive relationships, and the failure to devise an effective strategy to achieve justice for battered women in the legal system. The author argues that these failures can only be addressed through strategies derived from an alternative model of how women are entrapped in an abusive relationship. Parts III and IV outline and apply this new model. Drawing on cases encountered by the author in 30 years of experience as an advocate, counselor, and forensic social worker, he argues that most abuse victims are driven to seek help more because of a pattern of oppression in an intimate relationship than the violence. Such oppression prevents women from freely developing their thoughts, behaviors, personality features, interests, and pursuits. Part IV provides cases to show how such oppression leads to women's criminal behavior. In addressing such oppression, the author proposes a three-pronged approach: criminalize coercive control, revise intervention to highlight women's liberty rights alongside their safety, and enter the law through a reinvigorated political movement that brings women's real equality in line with their formal rights. Chapter notes and a subject index