Today’s Pen of Domestic Violence Coordinator’s writings takes a look at one of the ways that batterers use to maintain control over their victims, “Coercive Power.”
In the book, Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith identifies three forms of power which allow groups or individuals to force the submission of other individuals or groups to the will of the more powerful. The three forms are physical or coercive power; conditioned power, which is the ability to rely on the social or individual conditioning of a person to force submission to the will of another; and economic power. All three forms of power are exercised by abusers against women to force their submission.
Nearly every victim of domestic violence has experienced overt physical violence. Often more subtle forms of violence are used against women which they have not yet identified as battering. Intimidating stares, banging on the walls, throwing things, threatening suicide, threatening homicide, and making veiled threats to hurt someone else are all forms of violence.
Threats of taking away the children or ruining her reputation are forms of violence are also coercive and commonly used by batterers. It is important that the whole continuum of coercive power be examined when women think about the tactics being used to gain their submission.
Next time we will explore; conditioned power and how the abuser uses it to gain the victim’s submission.