Psychologist Dr Hughes Testimony for Amber Heard Exposes DV Gender Bias

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Psychologist Dr Hughes Testimony for Amber Heard Exposes DV Gender Bias

 

Forensic Psychologist Dr Dawn Hughes, PhD testified on Amber’s behalf during Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s “You defamed me.” “No, you defamed me.” trial. As a counselor and author of several books about partner abuse, I have been following the Depp/Heard case for a long time. I transcribed and analyzed Dr Hughes’ testimony to check it against other evidence and what I know about mental health and partner abuse.

Dr Hughes was hired by Amber Heard’s team to evaluate Amber’s mental health, specifically assessing whether she has PTSD from her relationship with Johnny Depp and statements made by Adam Waldman (ie calling out her “abuse hoax”), Johnny’s attorney during his 2020 UK libel trial against The Sun newspaper. Dr Hughes was also tasked with declaring whether Johnny abused Amber.

For this post, I’m focusing on the domestic violence part of Dr Hughes’ testimony and what it tells us about her objectivity and gender bias, as well as the gender bias of other DV advocates, resources, and treatment programs.

I plan to do more analysis of Dr Hughes’ testimony regarding Amber Heard’s mental health diagnosis, but since her testimony was very lengthy, I’ll put that in a separate post.

 

What's in This Post

Transcripts of Dr Hughes' Defamation Trial Testimony
Who is Dr Dawn Hughes?
Dr Hughes’ Evaluation of Amber Heard
Forensic Psychologist Dr Hughes’ Gender Bias
DV Theory, Research, and Treatment is Gender Biased
The Duluth Model for DV Treatment
What's in a Name?: Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, or Gender-Based Violence
Dr Hughes Uses He/Him as Perpetrator, She/Her as Victim
Dr Hughes Has Never Had a Case Where She Concluded Female-to-Man IPV
Dr Hughes’ Description of Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence
Dr Hughes Minimizes and Excuses Women’s Violence Against Men
Male and Female IPV Statistics
Situational Violence and Coercive Control
Women Get to Fight Back, Men Don't
Mutual Abuse
The Role of Alcohol in DV
Books About Partner Abuse

 

 Partner Abuse Books by Ann Silvers

 

Transcripts of Dr Hughes' Defamation Trial Testimony

I created transcripts from Dr Hughes’ lengthy testimony and include excerpts in this post.

The transcripts are sourced from three videos on Law and Crime Network’s Youtube channel:

  1. Part One: Forensic Psychologist Dr. Dawn Hughes Shares Her Expertise in Court (Johnny Depp v Amber Heard)

  2. Part Two: Direct Examination of Amber Heard's Witness Psychologist Dr. Dawn Hughes (Johnny Depp v Amber Heard)

  3. Part Three: WATCH LIVE: Amber Heard Testifies in Defamation Trial - Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Day 14 

The time stamps on testimony excerpts have part designations beside the speakers name (ie “Dr Hughes, Part 3 (29:17)”). 

 

Who is Dr Dawn Hughes?

Dr Hughes, is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with a PhD from Nova Southeastern University, Florida, and a practice in New York City. She is “the President elect of the Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association.”

She performed a mental health and domestic violence victimization evaluation of Amber Heard and testified as Amber’s witness during the Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard defamation trial and countersuit in Fairfax, Virginia May 4-5 2022.

Dr Hughes has worked as an expert witness for attorneys on Amber Heard’s team on cases in the past, so her gender-biased view of DV that you’ll see in her testimony was well known to the team before she was hired to do evaluations in this case.

 

Early Experience

Dr Hughes did an internship at Yale University in the School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry: one year in the substance abuse treatment unit, and another year in the mental health clinic “where we saw individuals suffering from a wide array of difficulties and psychiatric illnesses.”

She also did a postdoctoral fellowship in New York at Cornell Medical College “in the anxiety and traumatic stress program.”

During college, Dr Hughes started a DV program for male “batters” and “female victims” at her university:

“My experience in trauma has been predominantly throughout graduate school. I started at a domestic violence program that was housed within our community mental health center of the university. And that program, we saw both men and women who were coming through the program.

The majority of the men were court ordered for batters’ intervention programs to participate in mostly group therapy because of their behavior in intimate partner violence, domestic violence.

We also treated the female victims who were victims of intimate partner violence and mostly in individual therapy. But we did run some groups there as well.”

 

Ethics and IPV Teacher/Trainer

Dr Hughes has an unpaid “faculty position”:

“I also have a faculty position at Cornell Medical College. I'm a clinical assistant professor of psychology in the Department of psychiatry there. This is what we call on the voluntary faculty, which means you don't get paid, but you participate in bringing in the interns, selecting the interns for that year.

In that program I teach, I think, for the past 7/8 years the ethics seminar to the interns and also participate in other didactics that they have.

I'm also called upon to sort of troubleshoot difficult scenarios that clinicians, either trainees or full blood clinicians might have. If there's an issue of intimate partner violence or child sex abuse and they don't really know sort of what to do in that situation, I get consulted to do that.”

Dr Hughes has provided trainings for attorneys and mental health professionals on topics such as “understanding what a victim of intimate partner violence might look like.” And gave a presentation to New York judges on “When Women Use Force in Situations of Intimate Partner Violence.”

That topic title reads to me like she is not referring to women as perpetrators of DV but rather framing their violence as reactionary self-defense. You’ll see more about her related views in her testimony throughout this post.

She “also did teaching and training for victim services, which is New York City's largest victim based organization who runs a lot of services for victims of domestic violence and shelter based programs. And I did some education and training for them and teaching for a number of years.”

Dr Hughes testified that she has written book chapters on “rape and sexual assault in adult women” and “Structured Clinical Assessment of Risk and Violence.”

 

Dr Hughes’ Evaluation of Amber Heard

Dr Hughes testified that Amber suffered IPV from Johnny included psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.
From her testimony:

“The main opinion is that Ms. Heard's report of intimate partner violence and the records that I reviewed is consistent with what we know in the field about intimate partner violence characterized by physical violence, psychological aggression, sexual violence, coercive control, and surveillance behaviors.”

Dr Hughes concluded that:

  • Amber Heard is the victim of IPV from Johnny Depp

  • Amber has PTSD from being the victim of Johnny’s IPV

  • Amber has NO personality disorders or other mental illness

  • There was NOT mutual abuse (Dr Hughes doesn’t believe in mutual abuse. Part 1, 53:28-54:23)

  • Amber was NOT feigning or malingering (faking or exaggerating symptoms)


Dr Hughes’ conclusions are contrary to a lot of the evidence presented in the case including testimony from the couple’s marriage counselor, Dr Laurel Anderson who concluded that there was mutual abuse.

While I don’t agree with Dr Anderson’s assessment that what happened, and is happening, between Johnny and Amber constitutes mutual abuse, I disagree for the opposite reason that Dr Hughes provides. I do believe that mutual abuse exists often in abusive couples, but the abuse was too one-sided against Johnny in this case to be considered mutual. (See my post about Dr Anderson’s testimony: Marriage Counselor, Dr Laurel Anderson Testimony, Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Def Trial.)

Dr Hughes’ mental health evaluation results are in direct opposition to the results from Dr Curry, the forensic psychologist that Johnny’s team hired to assess Amber’s mental health.

Dr Curry concluded that Amber:

  • has Borderline and Histrionic personality disorders,

  • does not have PTSD, and

  • was feigning (exaggerating) PTSD symptoms.

 

For more on Dr Curry’s testimony: Forensic Psychologist Dr Curry Testimony Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Trial:

Forensic Psychologist Dr Curry Testimony Johnny Depp v Amber Heard Trial

 

 

Forensic Psychologist Dr Hughes’ Gender Bias

Dr Hughes’ testimony exposes her gender bias regarding DV:

  • when there’s abuse in male-female couples, men are the abusers and women are their victims

  • when men are violent, it’s because of their drive for power and control

  • when women are violent, it’s justifiable reaction and/or self-defense


Later in this post, I’ll draw your attention to the parts of Dr Hughes’ testimony that reveal her DV gender biases, but first I’ll speak to how common her views are in DV treatment and advocacy.

 

DV Theory, Research, and Treatment is Gender Biased

Dr Hughes’ testimony provides a window into the dominant DV worldview.

Unfortunately, Dr Hughes is not alone in her gender-based approach to DV. She is not an outlier. She is the norm.

Those of us in the mental health, legal, and legislative fields who recognize that DV frequently and consequentially happens in partner gender configurations other than male-to-female are a small minority.

Our voices are actively squelched by the crowd that believes that DV is caused by patriarchy. (For lack of better terms, I refer to this crowd as the DV community or DV advocates.)


Seeing DV as caused by patriarchy lens through which DV research and results are viewed

 

The DV community’s belief that DV results from, and is caused by, patriarchy, informs how they view every DV case: men are perpetrators because of patriarchy and women are victims because of patriarchy. Men use their power to exert “coercive control” over their female partners. Women don’t have power, so they don’t use coercive control on their male partners.

Gender biased DV advocates and researchers have recently begun to try to find ways to make their “DV is caused by patriarchy” philosophy create room for caring about and explaining violence and abuse in LGBTQ relationships, but they have to twist and contort their unbendable theory into a poor resemblance of a fit.

 

For more on my view on this, check out this post:

 Patriarchy Isn't The Only or Main Reason for Partner Abuse



The Duluth Model for DV Treatment

The Duluth Model for DV treatment provides glaring examples of the DV community’s gender bias.

For 40 years, the vast majority of DV treatment programs in the US, Canada, UK, and beyond have based their programs entirely or fundamentally on The Duluth Model.

The idea that DV is caused by patriarchy is foundational to The Duluth Model.

The famous and broadly used Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel is unabashedly gender biased. ALL representations of partner abuse contained on the wheel present “she/her” as victim. 

 

Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel

 

TheDuluthModel.org website includes some “approved adaptations” wheels made by third parties. As of May 2022, these include a wheel for “Tactics Used By Gay Men Who Attended An LGBTI Men's Behaviour Change Program” and “Abuse of Animals Wheel” BUT nothing even remotely acknowledging partner abuse by women.

Elsewhere on their website, The Duluth Model acknowledges that women are sometimes physically violent with their male partners, but excuses it away, blames it on the man, and dismisses it as “trivial”:

“When women use violence in an intimate relationship, the context of that violence tends to differ from men. . . Many women who do use violence against their male partners are being battered. Their violence is primarily used to respond to and resist the controlling violence being used against them. On the societal level, women’s violence against men has a trivial effect on men compared to the devastating effect of men’s violence against women.”

 

I believe that female-to-male partner abuse is far from trivial. It is happening in concerning numbers of relationships and creates a concerning amount of harm to the men who are on the receiving end of the abuse, as well as their children, families, and friends, and even the women who are being abusive.

I'll get into related stats in a later section: Male and Female IPV Statistics.

 

 

What's in a Name?: Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, or Gender-Based Violence

The DV advocacy community is so permeated with gender bias that there is a tsunami-level push to replace the current common labels of DV (Domestic Violence) or IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) with the term GBV (Gender-Based Violence).

When these people use the term gender-based, they are ONLY talking about abuses against females because they are female. They are NOT including any abuses against males because they are male.

I see that there are examples of gender-based violence in the world, such as female and male circumcision, and many instances of sexual assault or sexual abuse against people of any gender or gender identity, and gender-based oppressive religious, cultural, or governmental policies.

But the Gender-Based Violence term has been co-opted by DV advocates. And that is VERY troubling.

To classify domestic violence as gender-based is to further entrench it as only a male-to-female thing. There is no room for recognition of female-to-male violence beyond the minimizing mention that we see in Dr Hughes’ testimony and the bulk of DV advocacy and policy that is represented by the quote from The Duluth Model website above.

The reality: partner abuse can happen in any intimate partner relationship in any gender configuration straight or LGBTQ.

From my perspective, partner abuse is not a gender-based issue. Partner abuse is an abuse-based issue. Domestic violence is not gender-based issue. Domestic violence is a violence-based issue.

 

DV and IPV are not gender based

 

Dr Hughes Uses He/Him as Perpetrator, She/Her as Victim

During direct examination, Amber’s Attorney asks Dr Hughes to “tell the jury what domestic violence partner violence means.”

Dr Hughes spends over 20 minutes of testimony describing many forms and examples of DV while ONLY using female terms for the abused and male terms for the abuser in all of her scenarios.

I provide the transcript of this part of her direct examination testimony in the Dr Hughes’ Description of Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence section below, but since it’s quite lengthy, let’s first look at how she defended herself against accusations of gender bias during the cross-examination.

During cross-examination, Johnny’s attorney points out to Dr Hughes that she had exclusively used he/him for perpetrator and she/her for victim during her testimony the day before, and Dr Hughes responds to his questioning about this in ways that seem to indicate that either she is trying to cover up her gender-skewed representation, or that her bias is so ingrained that she is blind to it.

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (28:02)

"Okay. And every time you refer to the characteristic of a victim of intimate partner violence yesterday you used the pronouns she or her, didn't you?"

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (28:16)

"I was using the she and her pronouns in this case because my determination was, as I stated, that Ms. Heard was the victim of intimate partner violence. That is why I was using the she/her pronouns."

[Reality: You’ll see in the transcript of her direct exam testimony that she was not addressing the specifics of this case when for 20 minutes she used she/her in all her victim examples.]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (28:28)

"You in fact said “Women get into the relationship for all the right reasons.” That's what you said: “Woman gets into the relationship for all the right reasons.” Then you say “difficult for victim to extricate herself.” You go on to say that “she can” and “she should.” Over and over you use “she” right?"

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (28:50)

"I believe in this case I did because I was referencing this case where I found Miss Heard to be the victim of intimate partner violence. It doesn't mean that men don't get into the relationships for all the right reasons, too. I believe they do."

[Reality: Again, no she was not talking about Miss Heard at this point in her prior day’s testimony. Her original testimony is at 43:39 in the Dr Hughes’ Description of Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence section below.]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (29:07)

"Nearly every time you referenced the perpetrator of IPV, you used he or him, didn't you?"

[Reality: Unless I missed an instance in the transcript, it wasn’t “nearly every time.” It was actually every time.]

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (29:17)

"And it goes back to the same reasoning as I'm describing my understanding and my evaluation in this matter. Of course, men can be perpetrators and victims of intimate partner violence. That's well established in the research and that's well established in my clinical practice as well."

[Reality 1: She was not talking about her evaluation of this case when she was describing the ins and outs of DV.

Reality 2: It will become more evident as the cross exam goes on that Dr Hughes accepts the idea of males as victims of IPV only when they are in same-sex relationships (therefore only when their abuser is also male).]

 

Dr Hughes Has Never Had a Case Where She Concluded Female-to-Man IPV

When Johnny’s attorney turns his questioning to the subject of her not ever testifying on behalf of a man, Dr Hughes continues her indignant adamant pushback.

Everyone, including Dr Hughes, knows that what the attorney is getting at with his continued questioning is her gender bias against men in man/woman DV cases, but Dr Hughes responds to his questions by throwing in every case she can come up with in which she has testified for a man.

She’s testified for men sexually abused as children (by Boy Scout Leaders, coaches…), and a man who was abused in jail, and a man who was abused by his male partner, but she can’t come up with a single instance in which she has testified or “issued reports” or “worked on cases” for a male abused by his female partner.

Either Dr Hughes is trying to create an illusion that she has testified for male victims of abusive female partners, or she is so unable/unwilling to see her DV gender bias that she actually thinks that the men in the cases she uses as examples prove she isn’t biased.

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (29:33)

"Isn't the reason that you used the pronouns that you did, that you almost always testify on behalf of a woman?"

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (29:43)

"That's not correct.'

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (29:44)

"You don't even remember the last time you testified on behalf of a man."

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (29:48)

"Well, I don't testify on behalf of someone. I testify as to the result of my evaluation.

I frequently treat and assess male victims of childhood sexual abuse who are coming into treatment for abuse by their Boy Scout leader, by their coach, by their teacher, by a trusted adult. I see them in therapy. I see them in forensic matters, in criminal cases. So I treat and evaluate men all the time."

[Clearly the Depp/Heard case that she is testifying about currently is one in which a man is accusing a woman of abusing him, but she uses the example of testifying for men who were sexually abused as children. And my guess is that their Boy Scout Leader, coaches, … abusers were all male in the cases she is referring to.]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (30:15)

"I didn't ask you about treatment. I asked you about testimony. You broke up your practice between treatment and testimony. I'm not asking about treatment. When's the last time you testified on behalf of a man?"

[At first, I was frustrated by Johnny’s attorney not including “treatment” in his question, but I realize that there would be no way to check the truth of her testimony about private clients. And as you read on, you’ll see that Dr Hughes will expose that she hasn’t had any cases, testimony or treatment, that she classifies as involving a man abused by a woman.]


Dr Hughes, Part 3 (30:28)

"I testified recently in a deposition on behalf of a man who was traumatized because he was wrongly convicted."

[Since she is currently testifying in a DV case, and she is clearly being pressed to provide a case to dispel her gender bias in DV cases, her answer here creates the illusion that she testified on behalf of a man who was falsely accused of DV in a prior case.]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (30:34)

"At the time of your deposition six weeks ago, you couldn't remember a single time you had testified on behalf of a man."

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (30:42)

"I testified in my deposition that I testified in a case of a man who was wrongly convicted about 20 years and suffered physical and sexual violence in prison. And I detailed the traumatic effects that happened on that gentleman."

[So here we learn more about the “wrongly convicted” man. It no longer appears DV-related. She’s using a case where a man was abused by men. She can take on that kind of case. She has empathy for a man in that circumstance.]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (32:13)

"So you can't recall a single instance where you were hired by the attorney representing the male in an IPV matter, correct?"

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (32:22)

"In an IPV matter, not in a trauma matter or child sexual abuse matter."

[Dr Hughes stresses the words “In an IPV matter” when answering the question, “So you can't recall a single instance where you were hired by the attorney representing the male in an IPV matter, correct?”

We have her admitting that her answer is that she never has been hired by an attorney representing a male in an IPV matter.

But she doesn’t stop there. She wants credit for testifying in support men in other instances of abuse or trauma.]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (32:27)

"Okay. So that's the distinction. You don't have any recollection of ever testifying on behalf of a male in an IPV matter."

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (32:35)

"As I stated yesterday, the very first case that I testified in was in a same sex intimate partner violence where the man was the victim of another man. I routinely treat and assess same sex couples where the female can be the perpetrator of another female and the male can be the perpetrator or victim of his partner."

[So now in defending herself against the idea of gender bias against males abused by females she’s proudly professing about the case in which she testified for a man abused by his male partner and how often she “treats and assesses same sex couples.”]

Johnny's Attorney, Part 3 (32:59)

"Let me get this. You testified in a case where one male is alleged to have engaged in IPV against another male, correct? Okay. But that's the only one you remember."

Dr Hughes, Part 3 (33:17)

"No, I've done this frequently. As you well know, most cases don't go to trial. I've worked on hundreds and hundreds of cases. You've limited to testimony. Many cases don't come to trial. But I've issued reports and worked on many cases of same sex intimate partner violence where men are the victims."

[Now, given the chance to provide an example of any scenario where she has “issued reports and worked on cases” she diverts away from men abused by women to “same sex intimate partner violence where men are the victims.” Clearly she can’t come up with an example of any female-to-male DV scenario where she has issued a report or worked on a case.]

 

Dr Hughes’ Description of Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence

Dr Hughes spends over 20 minutes of direct examination testimony describing various forms of domestic violence. EVERY example she gives uses he/him as the source of abuse and she/her as the target of abuse.

She also makes excuses for women who exhibit behaviors that could be called abusive. Her excuses expose a belief that if women yell at, hit, etc their male partner it’s because he’s mean to her.

To extrapolate from Dr Hughes’ DV description below, if women are abusive it’s because a man made her do it, and if a man is abusive it’s because he’s bad.

This unfortunately, is the prevailing attitude among DV advocates.

I bolded the font on the gendered descriptions in her testimony.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (27:34)

Dr. Hughes, please tell the jury what domestic violence partner violence means.

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (27:44)

Sure. So I'm probably going to be interchanging the language, domestic violence and interpersonal violence. And for purposes here, these are the same thing. So intimate partner violence is a pattern of manipulation, fear and coercive control that happens within an intimate relationship. It constitutes using a variety of abusive behaviors. And that can be physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, emotional abuse, stalking or surveillance behaviors, and economic abuse. The abusive behaviors occur over time, not all at once. And they're also interspersed with very normal times, times without violence, times with love and happiness. And it's this inter-positioning of the violence with the love and the abuse, with the love and the care. That makes it very difficult for a victim to extricate herself from that situation and from that relationship.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (28:43)

And what would you say is the overarching dynamic of these relationships?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (28:47)

So the overarching dynamic is the abuse of power and control of one person wanting to have dominance in that relationship. Say over most things that the couple or that the victim does or does not do.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (29:03)

Please tell the jury what coercive control means.

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (29:06)

So coercive control is a tactic of victimization. The goal of it is to establish dominance. What coercive control does is that it imposes negative consequences for non-compliance with your partner's expectations or demands. And what that does is it erodes away at the victim's autonomy and her independence.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (29:31)

What is physical violence?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (29:33)

So physical violence is when one person uses their body against the body of another with the intent to cause injury or harm. That can be push, shove, slap, kick, punch, beat up, meaning multiple types of physicality in one instance, throw, slam into a wall, push into something hard that you could hurt yourself. Clearly, use of a weapon would be physically violent act as well.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (30:05)

The size and strength matter between the parties?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (30:09)

Yes, very much so. This is very well documented in the literature about violence and abuse in relationships. And that's just physics. That's just proportional force. That if 185 pound man is going to push 120 pound woman, that's going to feel quite different than 120 pound women pushing 185 pound man. And it's just about proportional force and the size and strength differential. And that is why, specifically, if you look at wrestling or boxing, they match weight classes and they do that for a reason, because they know that it's not fair if somebody is bigger and stronger than the other. So it's certainly not the only factor. But it is a factor that one has to consider if a relationship is violent.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (30:57)

What is psychological aggression?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (31:00)

So psychological aggression is threats and the imposition of threats with the intent to control someone's behavior. So it's doing a threat so that you will modify your behavior and do what your partner wants. Some psychological aggression techniques are intimidation, slamming your hand on a table, punching a wall, throwing something, mumbling under your mouth, cursing, screaming, sort of these high emotional balance type of activities that can cause a victim to feel afraid and feel intimidated. And then if there has been an act of physical violence where that contingency has already been established that this person, your partner has said, okay, I not only have the ability to use violence against you, I also have the willingness to do it. The intimidating tactics take on greater flavor. They take on greater salience. They need more because you know what could be coming down the pike?

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (32:02)

What is emotional abuse?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (32:05)

Emotional abuse functions to denigrate a person's sense of self-worth and their self-perception. It's about name calling, being very mean spirited, putting yourself down, using gender-based language that's offensive, racial slurs, all types of behaviors to really make a person feel less than they actually should.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (32:29)

And what is sexual abuse?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (32:31)

So sexual abuse in an intimate relationship functions to establish dominance and establish power. What it is simply in the psychological and psychiatric communities is forcing someone to do something sexual against your will when you did not want to. It can be forced sex either. Forced vaginal, oral, anal sex and be forced to engage in any other type of sexual act that you may not want to do. And when I say force, it doesn't mean it has to have physical force. There's a lot of psychologically coercive tactics that are used that many times when violence has already been established in the relationship. The victim often feels that she can't say no for fear of reprisal, for fear of retaliation for saying no to those acts. So sexual abuse does happen in intimate partner relationships. A lot of people don't want to talk about it, and they don't want to ask about it because it makes people very uncomfortable.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (33:30)

Is digital penetration of the vagina sexual abuse leading? What, if any, role does digital penetration of the vagina play in sexual abuse?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (33:43)

If it is non-consensual, then it is abusive.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (33:47)

What, if any, penetration of inanimate objects into the vagina plays a role in sexual abuse?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (33:53)

Again, the operative word is consensual. If you are not consenting to those acts, then it is sexually abusive.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (34:00)

Is there a distinction between sexual violence and sexual abuse?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (34:06)

Not really. Sexual violence is a term of art. It is the overarching umbrella that we in the psychological and psychiatric communities talk about. So if we are looking at our Diagnostic and Statistical manual and say, what are the traumas that could cause PTSD? It's listed as sexual violence. So it's an umbrella term that allows us to understand it could be childhood sexual abuse. It could be a rape, a sexual assault. It can be sexual abuse in an intimate relationship. So it's really just an overarching term that we use in the field.

So it doesn't mean I think people often mistake it to mean that when you are being sexually abused that someone's punching you or someone's hitting you or someone's doing something like that because you hear the violence. It does not mean that that could happen. But that term does not require that.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (34:58)

What does it mean that what are stalking or surveillance behaviors?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (35:04)

Stalking and surveillance behaviors are a common tactic of typically men who use violent behaviors in an intimate relationship. What they do is they allow the woman to know that wherever she is, wherever she goes, he's going to know. I'm going to maybe look at your phone, see who you're talking to, track. You want to find my iPhone? Look at your Instagram, look at your emails. Really having a way of knowing all of the personal information about you and what that does. It, again, erodes the victim's autonomy and it erodes her sense of privacy. She doesn't feel that wherever she can go, that somewhere he's not going to be part of her life in a very objectionable way. Sometimes there's a pop and show up at places that they're not supposed to be and that we don't want them to be just as a way of checking. Sometimes they'll have friends or family check up on their partners to make sure where they are. What time did you get home? But you didn't turn off your phone at this time, but you came in the door this time. Like all of the sort of constant questioning and interrogation about an individual's whereabouts.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (36:18)

What about economic abuse? What is that?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (36:21)

Economic abuse is a way to, again, continue to maintain control over your intimate partner. Sometimes it's withholding information about the finances of not letting you have access to the finances. If you can't have access to a credit card or a checking account or Apple Pay on your phone, then you're rendered usually much more economically dependent on your partner. And that limits tangible options for you. For individuals where that sort of tangible options isn't there, we see the economic abuse or the economic restriction when one partner refuses to share any information about the funds. So it's not like I can't go shopping because I won't have money, but I don't have any decision making in our family money. I don't have any idea of what we're doing in our family visa via our finances. So it's a way of definitely keeping that very separate and not in a consensual. Some couples make that choice. One person does all the money, that's fine. But when it doesn't come from a place of consensual choice making, it can be abusive.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (37:28)

So you just described a number of these abusive behaviors. Are all of them present in every domestic violence relationship?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (37:38)

No, they're not all present in everyone. And that's why it's very important to do a thorough assessment of a relationship that may be mired in violence to see which ones are present and which ones have a great impact in the relationship. Which ones are sort of making the structure of this relationship.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (37:57)

After a sexual assault in an intimate relationship, how might a victim in those circumstances interact with her partner?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (38:05)

This is one of the myths that people say, well, if she was sexually assaulted by her partner, she would have just left. And nothing could be further from the truth. That's not what happens, especially when it's your husband or your boyfriend or your partner. So what women do is they bury it, they compartmentalize it, they put it away, they avoid it, because then they continue to reach out for the kind and the loving man that they got into this relationship with. The problem is that it does fester belief and causes more sort of psychological distress in the victim.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (38:42)

What, if any, role can shame or humiliation play in this coercive dynamic?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (38:48)

That's one of the emotions that the victim is usually trying to suppress and compartmentalize and avoid and put away. One of the most frequently felt feelings after something so incredibly humiliating, and violating is shame and shame is a very sort of difficult emotion for people to have to live with and to have to experience. And then a lot of times what we see in these relationships, especially ones where sexual assault is perpetrated, there's typically the emotional abuse as well. So now if you're called names like a whore and a slut and easy and fat and you're feeling the shame from the sexual assault that just happened, it sort of acts as a compounding effect, and it sort of slowly deteriorates the psychological functioning of the victim and where they're just really trying to get back to the good guy, get the good guy to come back, but they're suffering these symptoms underneath.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (39:49)

What about intimidation? What role does intimidation play in the coercive control dynamic?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (39:55)

Intimidation is one of the huge factors that we see in coercive control. Again, the goal is to get your partner to do what you want them to do. And if you've established that you can use violence and other sexual violence and physical violence, slamming your hand on a table, throwing a glass, breaking a door, throwing anything, causing a fit, yelling and screaming that can rise the fear level in a victim that she may modify her behavior quicker. And he might not need to use physical violence because he's already established that that fear is there.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (40:33)

What, if any, role could writing obscene messages play in being considered intimidating behavior?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (40:43)

Certainly writing obscene messages to your partner could absolutely be an intimidating behavior.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (40:52)

What, if any, role does emotional abuse or degradation play in the dynamics?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (40:57)

So emotional abuse and degradation, as I stated before, functions to decrease your sense of self worth. It decreases your sense of agency. It makes you feel bad about yourself. And when you feel bad about yourself, you're less likely to actually live and see options for leaving you're so sort of mired in this dynamic of abuse that you come sometimes to believe the bad things that the person is telling you about. So maybe I am not talented and fat and lazy and stupid, and it interferes with that ability to problem solve and figure out, can I get out of this relationship? And sometimes you feel you don't even deserve to get out of the relationship when the abuse is so chronic and so repetitive.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (41:43)

What role does surveillance as a means of control play in that dynamic?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (41:50)

Surveillance functions to let the victim know wherever you are, there I am. So it makes her feel not secure in her movement, feeling that she has to restrict her movement. Her movement is not hers alone. It usually increases hyper, vigilance. It increases fear. It increases the need for yourself to mark where you've been and what you've done so that you can go back and prove it to your partner because you know that there is going to be an interrogation later. And this pattern has been established. Show receipts. Show me your iPhone. Where were you? What's your Google location at? Those are some types of surveillance behaviors that puts the victim very much on edge and increases that level of anxiety and trepidation.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (42:39)

What role does possessive jealousy play in these relationships?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (42:43)

So possessive jealousy is a very difficult dynamic in intimate partner violence. It's very common in situations of coercive control. It's rooted in possession that the gentleman feels that he can possess her and that he can have her whenever he wants. This very possessive dynamic, but the accusations the problem is when you make the accusations, the woman is forced to refute the accusations. So they're continuing in this dynamic where she's trying to prove, I didn't do what you said, this didn't happen. And then unfortunately, sometimes it escalates because the man is not taking the no for an answer, because this is a preservative obsessive pattern that's very difficult to penetrate, that often these type of conversations lend themselves to physical and sexual violence.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (43:36)

Does this dynamic happen overnight?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (43:39)

No, it doesn't happen overnight. It happens over time. A woman doesn't get into a relationship with a man who's beating her up and sexually assaulting her and calling her names and doing all that. She gets into the relationships for all the right reasons, just like we all get into relationships for love, for companionship, for kindness, for a future. But then slowly, all of these behaviors start to take form. And I say it's sort of like sucking the oxygen out of the room. And then before you know it, you're suffocating.


Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (44:29)

What role does love and normalcy play in these dynamics you've been describing?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (44:49)

So love and normalcy are almost always in these relationships that when you are in a lull and the violence is not happening, you're back to sort of the loving man that you wanted, the person who you wanted to be with. And when you pair this violent dynamic, physical violence, sexual violence with love and attachment, it creates a trauma bond. It creates a psychological bond, and emotional dependency is created. So it makes it very difficult for the victim of the abuse to extricate herself from that relationship and for her to even believe, frankly, that takes a lot of time to even believe that she can and that she should.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (45:36)

And what, if any, role does that dynamic you've described have in the victim thinking they can fix the problem?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (45:45)

So what do we know from the research, the researchers working with batterer men who come into treatment is that the only person who can change the abuse is the abuser. So no matter what the tactics that the woman uses and she's trying to do all these different things to fix him, to have him not be violent, to have him not be sexually violent, have him not be obsessively jealous. And all those things don't change his behavior because it's up to him to change his behavior. And this was played out a million times in the batters' intervention groups that I led, and the men would tell us, it doesn't matter what she does. I don't care. So the problem is that the woman continues to think that she can fix it, and yet she can't, but she's the one who then rendered sort of helpless and hopeless because everything that she's trying to do is failing.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (46:37)

What is the cycle of violence?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (46:40)

So the cycle of violence is one way to describe this domestic violence pattern. Typically, what we see in the cycle can be different in a variety of relationships. But typically, what we see is in the first phase of multiple, three to four phases. In the first phase, there's a tension building phase. You're sort of starting to feel that apprehension. He may be throwing his papers on the table a little more. He may be slamming the fridge door a little more. He may be mumbling under his mouth a little more. He may grab a glass a little more forcefully than he normally is. And then there's the incident phase. Then there's the blow up where the violence, the abuse, the screaming, the sexual violence, or the physical violence, all that occurs. Then we come to the contrition phase. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. It wasn't me. I'm not going to do it again. The promises for change. And then we sort of slide into the calm phase where this isn't going to happen again. I'm back to stable ground. I want to live in this place, this sort of honeymoon place. The problem in the common phase is we often see the rationalizations and the justifications for the behavior.

It's not like typically the man is taking full responsibility for what he did, but it's calm because there's no violence and no sort of tension at that moment, and then it recurs. So you're stuck in this vicious cycle of trying to figure out how can I be with this man who hurts me, and yet I love him so much.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (48:18)

What, if anything, does the term love bomb mean?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (48:23)

So the love bombing is more of the colloquial term for the younger folks here, but where you shower someone with affection and love in this contrition and calm phase where everything about you is special, you're the best thing in the world. I'm never going to do anything to hurt you again. I would never let anyone hurt you. And it could be selling, sending flowers and buying gifts or going on trips or your favorite restaurants. And that is a way of where the man is trying to make those amends, and then it gets the woman hooked. So they get hooked on the kindness, they get hooked on the love. They don't get hooked on the abuse. I've never met one woman in the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds that I've evaluated who was not concerned about the violence. They're all concerned about the violence, but they go for the love.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (49:13)

In your experience with these dynamics that you've described, does the victim ever yell at her partner?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (49:22)

Absolutely.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (49:23)

Why?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (49:25)

We know from the research that women use verbal and physical acts of aggression in these relationships, that's not uncommon. This has been researched for five decades. And a woman may yell at her partner because she's angry, and anger is a very normal emotion to having been abused. She can also be afraid, but they don't have to be mutually exclusive. We can absolutely, as human beings feel two or three or four different emotions at once. People do often say to me, oh, she would never yell at him if she knew he was going to hit her. And that's not true. That's just patently not true. That's not supported in the research, and that's not supported in my clinical practice. The problem is there's a classic double bind, and the violence has been so normalized in the relationship. Now she gets hit if she does yell, she gets hit if she doesn't yell. So for women who feel at certain moments that they need to preserve some sense of their autonomy and their independence and stand up for themselves, they will yell and they will fight back, even though the risk of violence is there. So it doesn't mean that she's not afraid and that she's not concerned about the violence.

And it doesn't mean she doesn't also use placating and compliance strategies most of the time as well.
 

Dr Hughes Minimizes and Excuses Women’s Violence Against Men

Amber’s attorney questions Dr Hughes about women physically abusing men. Her answers further demonstrate her gender bias.

Dr Hughes talks about one case that she was involved in where a man was the victim of DV. It was a case involving a same-sex couple. So in the case she offers as her one example, it’s still a man who is violent.

Dr Hughes also presents the typical DV advocacy approach of excusing away intimate partner violence from women. She says that it’s self-defense when a woman does it whether she is being physically attacked by her male partner in the moment or he has been mean to her at another time.

Notice that Dr Hughes, like her cohorts, don’t make excuses when men use violence in a relationship, or give them any kind of break for behaviors that could be classified as abusive.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (55:15)

Do women use violence in relationships?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (55:19)

Absolutely. We've known this for five decades in our research. We've been studying this since the 70s.

And when we look at what happens, women do report their use of violence.

The majority of violence that we do see is what we call reactive violence, or self-defense of violence, or sometimes violence that's perpetrated independently of an assault of something that's going on.

But mostly that when the partner begins to become violent, then she may become violent and fight back. And that's not an uncommon dynamic, that if somebody is being pushed or shoved or hit, that a person would fight back. That has been established in the research.

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (56:00)

And what, if any, effect does that have on changing the power dynamics of the structure?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (56:04)

Well, you have to find out, does her use of violence change the overarching power structure of coercive control and violence and abuse in this relationship? And you have to examine those variables to see, does it or does it not?

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (56:19)

Can men be victims of intimate partner violence?

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (56:22)

Absolutely. Certainly. We know that we have to be careful of gendered stereotypes. We can't go in and think, oh, only the woman is the victim or only the man is the perpetrator. That just does not comport with the research.

We know that the research also shows that we can have domestic violence and same sex relationships. My very first case was the same sex domestic violence homicide in Brooklyn. That was in 1998. So I've been examining and treating individuals in a variety of types of violent contexts.

So we have to be careful that that bias doesn't get in our way when we're evaluating a particular situation in a particular case.

That said, we do know that there still are differences in a heterosexual couple in a male female dyad the research still is clear that there are differences. Men still perpetrate, more severe acts of violence. Women are still more likely to be injured. They are much more likely to suffer sexual violence at the hands of their partner. They're more likely to be intimidated, afraid, and they're much more likely to be killed. So we know that those differences exist, but we do examine in those individual circumstances knowing that either one could be a perpetrator or a victim.

 

Male and Female IPV Statistics

We have had strong evidence at least as far back as the 1970's that men and women abuse their partners in similar numbers. 

Results of the 1985 National Family Violence Survey (NFVS) were reported by Drs. Murray Straus and Richard Gelles in "Family abuse and its consequences: New directions in research":

"Of every 1,000 couples, 160 experienced one or more physical assaults on a partner. Serious forms of assaults such as punching, biting, kicking, and choking were experienced by 34 per 1,000 American wives. Assaults by women on their male partners occurred at about the same rate as assaults by men on female partners, and women initiated such violence about as often as men."

The 1975 NFVS had similar results to those found in the 1985 survey.

Researcher John Archer from the University of Central Lancashire performed a meta-analysis of available research reports from others in which "sex differences in physical aggression to heterosexual partners and in its physical consequences are reported."

Archer found that heterosexual men and women physically abused their partners in approximately equal numbers of acts and inflicted injuries:

  • "When measures were based on specific acts, women were significantly more likely than men to have used physical aggression toward their partners and to have used it more frequently, although the effect size was very small (d = -.05)."

  • "When measures were based on the physical consequences of aggression (visible injuries or injuries requiring medical treatment), men were more likely than women to have injured their partners, but again, effect sizes were relatively small (d = .15 and .08)."

[To give you an idea what the "d" effect size numbers mean, here's the chart from Wikipedia's Effect Size page. Very small: .01, Small: .20, Medium: .50, Large: .80, Very large: 1.20, Huge: 2.0. We can see from this chart that the difference between the physical violence results for males and females was smaller than small.]

Results from the US National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) published by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that similar numbers of men and women were abused by their partners.

While the NISVS found that more women then men suffered "severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime," the number of men on the receiving end of this level of IPV is by no means "trivial" (contrary to The Duluth Model's description of female-to-male DV mentioned earlier).

 

US National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2015 CDC report

 

Situational Violence and Coercive Control

Dr Hughes doesn’t use the term “situational violence” until she is prompted by Amber’s Attorney to delineate between “situational violence” and IPV.

I have noticed that situational violence is a term that the DV community seems to be using to excuse female physical abuse.

Their theory is that men abuse because patriarchy gives them power and control, while women abuse because they are reacting to the situation. (When we add this to the argument that Dr Hughes made a few minutes ago in her testimony, we see that the “situation” doesn’t have to be immediate, it can be general.)

Dr Hughes cloaks her beliefs a bit here, but as I quoted in the section about The Duluth Model, the standard argument is that female-to-male violence isn’t as bad as male-to-female because men have the power and control because of patriarchy. (With the DV community all theories spring from and lead back to patriarchy.)

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (57:42)

“So how are you able to determine whether a relationship is a situational violence or intimate partner violence?”

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (57:48)

“So I thoroughly examine all of those other variables.

I look for the coercive control.

Who holds the power in the situation? Who is able to say no? Who makes the decisions? What are the consequences if you don't follow the decisions of your partner? Is there sexual violence? Is their intimidation and fear? Are there statistical factors that are associated with severe and lethal domestic violence? So there's a lot of data that we have in the field that we can use to assess a particular relationship and really find out what's going on.”

 

Women Get to Fight Back, Men Don't

Amber’s attorney asks Dr Hughes a general question about myths around DV and her primary answers address supposed myths that women don’t fight back.

Her intention here again seems to be to label female acts of violence as self-defense, expected, and even a point of pride and empowerment.


Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (01:09:29)

“Are there common myths or misperceptions about domestic violence?”

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (01:09:34)

“There are. I hope I've dispelled some of them here already.

But I mean, the myths certainly are that women are meek, are passive, are just sitting there and letting the abuse happen, that women don't fight back, that women don't yell back some old ones, that they like the violence, they're not concerned about the violence, that if it was really bad, she really would have left. If it was really bad, she really would have told the police all of those myths and misconceptions that just don't comport with the research.”

---------------------------------------

Unlike women, men aren’t availed this Get Out of Jail Free card.

Many men won’t fight back when assailed by their wife or girlfriend because of the Don’t Hit a Girl rule. (This is a good rule. It’s just that girls also need to be taught not to hit their partners. The opposite is happening. Slapping a man is seen as a woman's right if he does something to offend her.)

Besides not wanting to hit a girl, a major reason for men to resist hitting back or even attempting to stop the assault is that if they lay a hand on her in self-defense and the police are called, chances are he’s the one going to jail.

When we work with men who are being physically assaulted by their wives and girlfriends we generally reinforce this by counseling them about alternatives. We tell them to flee if they can, and if they can’t, then roll up in a ball, with your hands over your head protecting your head, and if possible with your back against the wall.

 

 

For more advice for physically abused men, check out my post: How to Make a Safety Plan if She is Violent.

 

How to make a safety plan for physically abused men

 

 

Mutual Abuse

Dr Anderson, the marriage counselor who saw Amber and Johnny together and separately, concluded that the couple experienced mutual abuse.

It is noteworthy that Dr Anderson had 4 individual appointments with Amber in and around dates that she had 4 couples’ appointments with Johnny and Amber together, and that Dr Anderson testified that Amber controlled the conversation during joint sessions. Dr Anderson’s testimony and notes also indicate that she bought Amber’s version of events. No evidence was presented to indicate that Johnny’s perspective about physical violence in their relationship was sought or considered during their marriage counseling.

Dr Anderson’s mutual abuse conclusion created a stir in the DV community because they reject the whole concept of mutual abuse. If the basis of their theory on DV is that it is caused by patriarchy—then women can’t abuse men and there can’t be mutual abuse.

I believe that there are many many possible reasons for DV. (Click here for my list of 71 Reasons Why Partners Abuse.

And I believe that partner abuse is frequently mutual: both parties abuse each other in approximately equal degrees. (I get more into the mutual abuse argument in my post about Dr Anderson's testimony.)

But I don’t believe that Johnny and Amber’s relationship is an example of mutual abuse. I believe that a preponderance of evidence supports Johnny’s version of events: Amber severely abused Johnny physically, verbally, emotionally, financially, legally…, and Johnny did not abuse Amber. (He did name-call her, but that doesn't make for anything close to mutual abuse in this case.)

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (53:28)

“Okay. What about mutual abuse? What is that? What role does that play?”

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (53:33)

“So mutual abuse isn't really a term of art that we use.

What we look at is situational couple violence and intimate partner violence.

And when we look at situational couple violence, that really does characterize the majority of types of violence and abuse that happens in relationships that's when a couple gets out of hand, they may push, shove, slap, yell, say some things that they don't want. And it's not that those behaviors are okay, but those are sort of what our larger scale community based studies say happens in these relationships that's distinguished from intimate partner violence. What I'm talking to you about that has this consolation of symptoms and is rooted in the abuse of power and control.”

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (54:19)

“Is there research that addresses this mutual abuse?”

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (54:23)

“There's research that addresses what does gender symmetry look like, male and female. Are they the same?

And there's certainly, as I said, research on the lower end types of violent behaviors push, shove, slap. We may see similar rates between men and women in psychological aggression, yelling, name calling, putting down in some of our big community scale studies, we may see similar rates of perpetration in those behaviors.

But then there are other situations where we don't have gender symmetry. And what the research talks about very clearly is you have to examine context. You have to examine the differential of power and control and coercive control in the relationship to make a full determination.”

---------------------------

Dr Hughes exposes the gender bias in the DV community argument against the concept of mutual abuse.

They have to find a way to explain repeated research results demonstrating that abuse is often mutual while holding on to their base concept that partner abuse is caused by patriarchy.

Dr Hughes is revealing that one of the ways she and they do this is by separating out what she calls “lower end types of violent behaviors” as if they aren’t DV.

Then she/they say that the only DV that really counts is the violence from the party with “the differential of power and control and coercive control in the relationship.”

Coercive control is another idea being pushed by the DV community. They are pressuring governments around the world to expand the definition of DV to include psychological coercive control.

Again, it is based on their premise that partner abuse is caused by patriarchy. Their dogma excludes the possibility that a woman could have the ways and means to be controlling in relationships.

 

The Role of Alcohol in DV

Amber Heard uses every possible opportunity to accuse Johnny Depp of abusing alcohol and other substances with the clear motive to disparage him and accuse him of:

  1. becoming violent with he’s under the influence, and

  2. not having a good memory of his bad acts under the influence.

Once again, in this segment of Dr Hughes’ testimony even though she is asked an ungendered question, her explanation involves abused “women” and “he” as the abuser.

Also noteworthy: There is lots of evidence that Amber drank more alcohol than Johnny did and that she also used drugs. The jury may learn more about this during Amber's cross-examination by Johnny's attorneys.

 

Amber’s Attorney, Part 1 (58:24)

“Does alcohol and substance use cause people to be violent?”

Dr Hughes, Part 1 (58:29)

“It certainly doesn't cause people to be violent. We have plenty of people who can be struggling with substance abuse and addiction, and they're not violent. But when you have a substance abuse and addiction and you perpetrate domestic violence, it does create a much more disastrous effect. It is a co-occurring variable.

And we know that also from the research that the majority of the women will report that when their partner is drinking, the physical violence goes up. So a lot of the times when he's physically violent is when he's been consuming drugs or alcohol, when he's not consuming drugs and alcohol and he's not violent, those other behaviors continue to persist.

The coercive control, the surveillance, the obsessive jealousy, the possessiveness, the psychological abuse. Those usually persist, but the alcohol can just throw lighter fluid on a flame in a situation of domestic violence.”

---------------------------

The reality:

It is true that alcohol and stimulating substances can increase belligerence and violence. It is something that should always be considered as a potential contributing factor when counseling people experiencing DV.

It is also true that alcohol and substance use (especially calming drugs like marijuana) can be a coping mechanism engaged by people on the receiving end of abuse.



Alcohol use in DV IPV 

 

Books About Partner Abuse

I have written several books on partner abuse. 

I understand the gender bias in the DV community. I was there too before my eyes were opened up by witnessing a male friend be abused by his wife.

Once my eyes were opened, I realized that I had been missing female-to-male partner abuse in my clients (luckily I hadn't been a counselor all that long by this point). 

When I began talking about abuse of men by women, men started coming out of the woodwork to tell me their stories. 

I had nowhere to send abused men, their suffering family and friends, or even abusive women for help outside of myself. All the partner abuse resources that I could find treated partner abuse similarly to what we still see on The Duluth Model website.

So, I decided to try and fill the partner abuse information void.

Two of my partner abuse books are part of the "A Quick Look at" series of short to-the-point books:

A quick look at Partner Abuse: A Concise Overview of Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse, and the 5 Other Forms of Partner Abuse in Straight and LGBTQ Relationships

A quick look at Abuse OF Men BY Women: A Concise Overview of Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse, and the 5 Other Forms of Female on Male Spousal Abuse

I also wrote and published a full-sized book about relationships in which the target of the abuse is a man and the source of the abuse is a woman:

Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It's Time to Get Real About It

Partner Abuse Books by Ann Silvers

 

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