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" If I can't have you, no one will"

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Title:
" If I can't have you, no one will" the depictions of intimate partner violence in film
Uncontrolled:
Depictions of intimate partner violence in film
Creator:
Hein, Rachel E. ( author )
Language:
English
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1 electronic file (98 pages) : ;

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Subjects / Keywords:
Intimate partner violence ( lcsh )
Violence in motion pictures ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Review:
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a very serious problem within society and can often be something which is overlooked or oversimplified by individuals. IPV can especially run into misconceptions when it comes to its representation by media. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between IPV and how it is characterized, and presented, in the media. A content analysis was used to examine nine films, ranging from 1989 to 2015, which dealt with the issue of IPV between married and unmarried couples. The study found inconsistencies between the way media represents IPV and what the literature and previous studies have documented about it. While these results have implications for how images of IPV can be altered to be represented in all media, special attention is giving to its representation by visual media.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
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System requirements: Adobe Reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Rachel E. Hein.

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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on10071 ( NOTIS )
1007153273 ( OCLC )
on1007153273

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Full Text
IF I CANT HAVE YOU, NO ONE WILL THE DEPICTIONS OF INTIMATE
PARTNER VIOLENCE IN FILM
by
RACHEL E. HEIN
B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2014
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Sociology Program
2017


2017
RACHEL E. HEIN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Rachel E. Hein has been approved for the Sociology Program by
Candan Duran-Aydintug, Chair Maren Scull Leigh Ingram
Date: May 13, 2017


Hein, Rachel E. (M.A., Sociology Program)
If I Cant Have You, No One Will The Depictions of Intimate Partner Violence in Film
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
ABSTRACT
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a very serious problem within society and can often be something which is overlooked or oversimplified by individuals. IPV can especially run into misconceptions when it comes to its representation by media.
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between IPV and how it is characterized, and presented, in the media. A content analysis was used to examine nine films, ranging from 1989 to 2015, which dealt with the issue of IPV between married and unmarried couples. The study found inconsistencies between the way media represents IPV and what the literature and previous studies have documented about it. While these results have implications for how images of IPV can be altered to be represented in all media, special attention is giving to its representation by visual media.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Candan Duran-Aydintug
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DEDICATION
To my Marco. Thank you for always answering Polo when I lose you in the store. I, quite simply, would be lost without you.
Also, to the two most adorable puppies I know: Putzer McGee and the Roly Poly. While you may love me for giving endless belly rubs, I love you two even more for the many puppy kisses and cuddles you gave (see: distracted) me with while I tried to work on both homework and this thesis. However, since you two are so dang cute, I cant even hold your distracting ways against you.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I am thankful to many people who have supported me along my academic journey. First, I would like to thank Candan Duran-Aydintug. Since you approached me in undergrad, you have been a cheerleader, an insightful teacher, and a friend. To Maren Scull, I treasured your constant cheer and your insightful feedback. Your questions, criticisms, and support were always appreciated. As for Leigh Ingram, I am thankful for your critiques and support. I would also like to thank Sonja Foss for her constant support, many writing guides/tools, unending kindness, and willingness to listen and to help. While it may not seem like much, it means more than you know!
I want to thank my mom for her overwhelming support and reassurances when my stress reached critical levels. Flad it not been for you, I dont know if I would have completed this. Also, thanks to my Sissie. Although we were in different programs, it was our lengthy phone calls that grounded and reassured me, knowing someone else was going through similar struggles and a similar process.
Finallyalthough I am likely overlooking many individuals who should be mentioned for their help and supportI want to thank Donna Singer, Jackie Silbermann, Pricilla Acosta, Rachel Toth, Shara Schroeder, Sherri Davenport, and Tina Hartt. I cannot even begin to thank you for your unique insightsaround my topic, the program, and life in generalcontinual support, thoughtful words, and friendship. You are amazing women and I am grateful to have you all in my life!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION.......................................
LITERATURE REVIEW..................................
Types of Abuse.....................................
Physical Abuse ..............................
Sexual Abuse.................................
Psychological Abuse..........................
Verbal Abuse ................................
Stalking.....................................
Economic Abuse...............................
Factors that Affect Staying and Leaving Abusive Situation
Economic Abuse...............................
Denial and Excuses ..........................
Theory.............................................
Traits of Abusers..................................
The Framing of Abuse and Violence by the Media.....
METHODS ...........................................
Content Analyses...................................
Sample and Sampling................................
Data ........................................
Coding ......................................
FINDINGS ..........................................
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Portrayal of Individuals: The Abused
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Characteristics.............................................35
Age...................................................35
Changes in appearance and name........................35
Children..............................................37
Personality...........................................38
Types of Abuse..............................................40
Economic abuse........................................40
Physical abuse........................................42
Psychological abuse...................................42
Stalking..............................................43
Sexual abuse..........................................45
Portrayal of Individuals: The Abuser...............................46
Characteristics.............................................46
Control and athleticism...............................46
Jealousy..............................................49
History of Violence.........................................49
All or nothing........................................49
The blame game........................................51
Cycle of abuse........................................52
Jobs and Image .............................................53
Portrayal of the Individuals: The Lover............................55
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Characteristics
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Jobs .....................................................56
Factors that Facilitate Leaving.................................57
Deception.................................................57
Tipping Point and Opportunity ............................58
Factors that Flinder Leaving ...................................61
Abuse ....................................................61
Drugging...........................................61
Isolation..........................................62
Outside Factors ..........................................62
Work connection....................................64
Resources.................................................64
Other ..........................................................66
Ending and Aftermath .....................................66
Death of the abused................................66
Death of the abuser................................67
Jailing of the abuser..............................68
Family and Friends .......................................69
Parents............................................71
Police and the Law .......................................73
Legal support......................................73
Police protection and legal hurdles................74
Relationship between Abused and Abuser....................77
V. DISCUSSION..........................................................79
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Limitations and Future Research
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Sample and coding.................................81
Abused and lovers.................................82
Mental illness....................................83
REFERENCES........................................................84
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CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
When a couple who were in a relationship break-up, the process follows a straightforward pattern. They may have to deal with the separation from lovers to friends, or have to figure out how to be single again. Typically, though, the process is routine. Yet, to leave an abusive relationship is, at best, difficult. Typically, this form of separation tends to be one sided, with the individual who was abusedwho also typically suffers from economic, psychological, and/or physical abuse while within the relationshipis the one wanting to leave the relationship and the abuser wanting the relationship to continue. As a result, there is a violent struggle for control: the abused struggling to gain the ability to leave, and the abuser struggling to keep control over the abused at any cost. At its worst, this struggle can end with the death of either the abused or the abuser, with numerous legal repercussions. The various abuse suffered during the relationship can provide difficult barriers to initially move beyond, yet, it only gets harder from there as death of the abused does not always bring proper justice for the survivor.
One of the most common sources of equipment for living (Burke 1973) today is the media. The media has become a common source for demonstrating to people how to act and behave. Some people memorize entire movies; pattern their identities after television or movie characters, through mannerisms or simple cosplay; and try to put themselves in similar situations as their favorite characters to attempt to venture down a similar path. These acts could range from the way the character speaks and moves to wanting to mimic choices made in the characters
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life into their own, be they good acts, such as volunteering or being helpful within society, or bad, such as acts of violence.
The media has intertwined itself with the lives of the viewers, thus putting themselves in a position of providing guidelines, or the equipment for living (Burke 1973). The messages that the media provides to the viewers about intimate partner violence could be crucial in guiding the actions both abused and abusers take when confronted with a similar situation involving abuse. Not only are the potential abused and abuser affected, but it could go so far as guiding the actions of an observer of abuse.
Even with the media being in this unique position of providing these guides, as well as the ever-increasing number of TV shows and films which deal with intimate partner violence, there is very minimal research that looks at both intimate partner abuse and its portrayal in film. The studies that come close look only at abuse and film, although their focus tends to be much more on pornographic films and the sexualization of abuse. As sexual violence is not the only type of abuse presented in film, nor are pornographic films entirely relatable to society, the findings from these films may not represent or apply to films regarding intimate partner violence.
Therefore, this research attempts to fill in this gap. It intends to discover the frames that the media puts around the issue of intimate partner violence in order to discover what kind of guidelines they might be offering to viewers who find themselves involved in an abusive situation. It will also compare the films to actual
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research on intimate partner violence, to investigate if the factors which were presented, either as facilitating or hindering an escape from an abusive relationship, are supported in actual situations of intimate partner violence (IPV).
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CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW Types of Abuse
IPV which is also referred to as domestic violence or partner violence, tends to be characterized by an individual who through acts of violence, power, and forms of coercion intend to control the behavior of another individual (Powell & Smith 2011; Understanding Intimate Partner Violence 2014). The dynamic between the individuals could range from being current or former spouses, non-marital partners, or current or former boyfriend/girlfriend who have been in a relationship longer than one week (Faramarzi et al. 2005; Thompson et al. 2006; Modi, Palmer, & Armstrong, 2014). This can be done in a variety of ways as there are many different types of abuse that play a part of the overarching idea of domestic abuse. There are three primary forms of abuse that tend to be studied the most. These forms of abuse include physical, psychological, and economic abuse. Physical abuse tends to be examined the most within studies, followed closely by psychological abuse and trailing with economic abuse. While these are the primary three forms, there are several subsets that fall withinor are peripheral categories tothese three abuse categories, such as staking, sexual, and verbal abuse. While there can, and typically tends to be overlap between them, there are very distinct separations of what each form entails.
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Physical Abuse
Physical abuse, which also includes terms such as physical assault and physical violence, is the intentional act of causing injury or trauma to another person with bodily contact. The physical repercussions of the abused from the physical abuser tends to make physical abuse the easiest form of abuse to spot. Some of the common characteristics associated with physical abuse are: choking, punching, hair pulling, breaking and/or twisting arms, shoving, or throwing objects across the roomparticularly toward another individual (Loue 2001; Berns 2004; Powell & Smith 2011; Stader 2011). Vagi, Rothman and Latzman also include the hitting, kicking and intentional scratching to this mix of characteristics. Generally, physical abuse tends to involve only one abuser and one victim, or abused, however there can be cases where there are multiple abusers and/or multiple victims.
Sexual Abuse
Due to the general physical nature that is associated with it, sexual abuse tends to share similarities with physical abuse when being researched. This form of abuse typically is defined as one partner forcing a partner to engage [in] a sex act when he or she does not or cannot consent (Stader 2011:139), attempted rape, attacks on sexual body parts, or requiring a partner to perform sexual acts (Powell & Smith 2011). This use of force is why sexual abuse can occasionally get partnered with physical abuse. However, there is another aspect of sexual abuse which also separates it slightly from only being connected with physical abuse. Sexual abuse
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also includes sexual harassment which can range from inappropriate comments or sending nude photos to someone who does not want them.
While physical and psychological harm tend to be very easily defined and are often examined in research, sexual violenceparticularly sexual violence within intimate relationshipstends to be overlooked. This exclusion is often unintentional. More often it is because the term sexual violence tends to encompass a broad definition. Research tends to fail to consistently specify whether [the] participants] reports of sexual violence occurred within or outside of an intimate relationship (Bagwell-Gray, Messing, & Baldwin-White 2015:317).
Another issue within the research is that when an intimate relationship is examined, what outsiders may view as rape or some form of sexual coercion, is not viewed that way by the victims of sexual violence (Bagwell-Gray et al. 2015).
Despite the uncertainty of what may qualify as sexual violence, and in addition to the general definition of sexual violence, there are certain characteristics which researchers tend to agree are included. These characteristics include: whether the act was completed or attempted; the type of sexual activity ranging from noncontact, sexual harassment or penetrationwhich can occasionally be an umbrella term for rape; attempted rape; forced pregnancy; or any sex act that stems from the lack of consent (Projansky 2001; Modi et al. 2014; Understanding Intimate Partner Violence 2014; Bagwell-Gray et al. 2015).
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Psychological Abuse
Often used interchangeably with mental and emotional abuse, psychological abuse is considered by some to be just as, if not more, damaging to an individual as physical abuse (Adams et al. 2008). While it may be just as damaging to an individual as physical abuse, it can be very difficult to detect. Many of the characteristics of psychological abuse include aspects such as harming [a partners] sense of self-worth through controlling behavior, threatening or intimidating their partners, and manipulating or distancing their partner from friends and family (Adams et al. 2008; DeKeserdy & Schwartz 2009; Powell & Smith 2011; Vagi et al. 2013). When used in conjunction with emotional abuse, it also included aspects such as constant criticism, name-calling, and an all-around attempt to break the spirit of the victim to cause them to feel as though they do not deserve better treatment (Powell & Smith 2011).
A newer term which has been developed is the idea of coercive control. Coercive control moves beyond simply citing physical violence as the only tool abusers use to gain control. Instead, it notes that the primary goal of the abuser is to strip away their partners sense of self-worth. This stripping away is done with many of the same tactics found within psychological abuse such as: monitoring and regulating their partners daily life; manipulation; or using mind games.
One final aspect which is included with psychological abuse is the use of children. This would be when the abuser may also resort to having children mimic their critical behavior toward the victim to reinforce the worthless mentality.
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Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse, while it can stand alone, tends to often be partnered with psychological abuse, as it can be used as a tool for psychological abuse to be dealt toward individuals. In these instances, they see verbal abuse only as a mechanism for lowering the partners self-worth. However, it is more a complex topic than that. Aspects such as name calling, yelling or screaming at the partner, taunting, threatening, mind games through wordscompared to actions--and bullying are common behaviors which help abusers inflict and perpetuate psychological abuse for the abused (Follingstad & DeHart, 2000).
Stalking
While it could easily be grouped within psychological abuse, stalking has come to stand on its own within recent years. The first definition of stalking was proposed by California legislative in 1990, and created a basic guide for other states along with helping the foundation for the federal Model Penal Code (Palarea, Zona, Lane, Langhinrichsen-Rohling 1999). Stalking is commonly defined as malicious or repeated following or harassment by the perpetrator toward an individual, which includes some sort of credible threat that ultimately creates a high level of fear within the victim. In its basic form, these high levels of fear can be achieved through actives such as: physically following the victim on errands, consistently calling their place of residence or work, going to work with the abused to monitor their interactionswhere the employer occasionally expects the abused to control the stalkers behavioror simply using video cameras to monitor and control the
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activities of the abuseparticularly from cameras within their house (Tjaden & Thoennes 1998; Buel 1999).
However, in recent years, due to the increase in the accessibility of, and advancements in, technology, there has been a development of a niche category of cyberstalking. This newer, and progressively easier, form of stalking can include the abuser bombarding the victim with unwanted or virus-laden email messages, emails containing insults or threats, using tracking programs to monitor web searches and/or email communication, using GPS linked tracking devicesgenerally linked through ones phone, but most recently can include carsto track the victims location, and/or by collecting information about the victim through social media or other online databases with the purpose to use the found information for harassing material (Southworth et al 2007).
A 1998 study conducted by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, found that of the 16,000 individuals surveyed, which consisted of 8,000 females and 8,000 males, 59 percent of women and 30 percent of men had been stalked by an intimate partner while they were in a relationship with that individual. They found that while males had been stalked, most78 percentof the stalking victims were female, with most87 percentof the stalking perpetrators being male. With an average stalking case lasting 1.8 years (Tjaden & Thoennes 1998), there tends to be significant carry over into the lives of the victims. Tjaden and Thoennes also found that nearly a fifth of stalking victims end up moving to distance and remove themselves from the stalking situation, with a combined 50 percent of victims20
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percent for males and 30 percent for femalesseeking some sort of psychological counseling to deal with the aftermath of their victimization.
Russell E. Palarea, Michael A. Zona, John C. Lane, and Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling examined cases of stalking which had been managed by the Los Angeles Police Department Threat Management Unit. These cases took place between 1990 and 1996 and consisted of 223 victim suspect pairs. Of these 223 cases, 135 cases had relationships that were intimate in naturesuch as married, engaged, cohabiting, dating, and casual sexual relationshipsand 88 relationships were non-intimate in naturesuch as those relationships with coworkers, school mates, neighbors, or a professional business relationship. They confirmed that while it had been a common stereotype at the time, that celebrities were not the only victims of stalking. Instead, those individuals who had some sort of intimate relationship between the suspect and victim were at a higher risk to experience stalking, as well as experiencing a higher frequency, and follow through, of threats of violence than those in non-intimate relationships. This was due to the fact that those in an intimate relationship tend to have more contact between one another, as well as an ease of informationthat is the suspect is more likely to know where the victim is and when they should be there (i.e. work, school, etc.).
Economic Abuse
Although it tends to receive the least amount of attention, economic abuse is just as problematic as the previous discussed forms of abuse. This form of abuse typically consists of the abusive partner controlling the ability of [the abused] to
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acquire, use and maintain economic security (Adams et al. 2008:564) or other general financial dependency upon the abuser, such as lacking access to household funds, opening a bank account, or obtaining some form of credit (Buel 1999; Powell & Smith 2011). Other research has indicated that the abused may deal with economic abuse by not being able to obtain or maintain employment due to other concurrent forms of IPV (Sanders 2014). These are some of the most recurring reasons that the abused return to their abusers. Without the ability to have, or have minimal, financial independence, they cannot support themselves and/or their children upon leaving, or attempting to leave, the relationship. However, many studies seem to overlook economic abuse in favor of a deeper examination of physical and psychological abuse.
Factors that Affect Staying and Leaving Abusive Situations
There are many factors that hinder an individual from leaving a relationship. There are also several which would push an individual to finally leave the abusive relationship and the abuser.
Economic Abuse
Many women who suffer economic abuse have little to no economic means to leave and abusive relationship (Koss et al. 1994; Downs 1996; Buel 1999; Jewkes 2002). Many of these individuals either have their income, if they have a job, going directly to their partner or everything is paid for by their partner, so they have no access to additional funds or to their own money. This lack of any access to funds keeps the individuals from fleeing, unless they have some support groupsuch as
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friends or familywho have financial means to support them until they can find their financial footing. It is for the lack of economic stability and support that causes many women to return to their abusive partners. One article noted that of victims who reached out to shelters, hotlines and/or emergency rooms, 75 percent had attempted to leave their abusers at least five times but returned for lack of finances (Buel 1999). This lack of financial independence or stability not only results in people staying with their abuser, but it also perpetuates the cycle of returning to abusive situations.
Another factor which can motivate a woman into leaving an abusive situationalthough it can also be one of the biggest obstacles to leavingis children (Buel 1999). This obstacle generally is experienced by married individuals, although it can also happen within dating and cohabiting relationships. In these situations, the abused woman may leave as a precaution to ensure that the abuse they are experiencing does not carry over to their children. However, if they suffered from economic abuse, or just had little or no economic means available, but with the need to support the children, this can put even more strain onto the victim. This lack of financial stability can ultimately result in either the victim returning to the abuser or having the children taken from herand returned to the abuseras she is not able to financially support them. In some cases, the abusive partner may even attempt to use the children as a means of manipulation toward their abused partner (Powell & Smith 2011). This abuse and manipulation may take two primary forms. In the first form, the abuser may threaten the victim that if the victim were to leave, that the abuser would keep the children. In the second, the abuser may use the children to
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help perpetuate the abuse. This is, largely, the reason that many shelters do not allow women to bring their teenage sons with them, as they are worried that the abuser may come for their partner or jeopardize the other women in the shelter.
Denial and Excuses
Before the severity of abuse increases to a point at which a victim chooses to leave, victims tend to actively make excuses for violent behavior by their partners. These excuses originally stem from denial of the underlying reasons for the abuse by the victim (Buel 1999; Loue 2001). This denial could originate from the fact that the victims of abuse tend to see no one holding the offender responsible for his crimes (Buel 1999:20), so the victim believes that the abuser has done nothing out of the ordinary and there is no need to question the reasons for the abusers actions. The victim then tends to internalize the lack of reasons to hold the abuser responsible by indicating they, the victim, are the reason the abuse occurred. If they could change things which may have triggered the abuse, the violence would cease. While it is not always the case, those who make excuses in this way for their partner are victims of a combination of both physical and psychological, although the magnitude of each form may not be equal.
Another reason that excuses can affect the staying or leaving with relationships, is that the victims often truly love their abusersthat is when they are not being abusedor believe that their partners truly love them deeply. Many women who fall within this type of excuse making tend to suffer from low selfesteem. This causes them to believe they either deserve the abuse to become
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somehow better, or that, if they leave, no one will love them to the extent their abuser claims to (Buel 1999).
Theory
In sociology, domestic violence and its many forms have been examined through several different theoretical approaches. Several studies have been examined through the lens of feminist theories and perspectives (Martinez, 2011; Combard & McMillan, 2013; Gill & Mason-Bish, 2013) or by different iterations of exchange theory (Kaukinen, 2004; Lawson, 2012; Logan, Walker, & Hoyt, 2012). While there is a broad pool of theory which could be used, in this study, theories from George Herbert Mead and Erving Goffman were primarily used to help examine IPV.
In his work The Self, Mead focused on how individual develops their sense of self. He saw the self as something thatwhile being an internal and individual aspectthe self was not something individuals are born with. Instead, it was developed through social experience and activities and would influence, further, how they behaved and/or functioned within society (Mead 1934). It is through the social experience which develops the two key elements of the self, the / and the me. These two elements, together, help guide the individual with the me bringing in previous attitudes and experiences it has encountered to help direct the / (Mead 1934). As a result, the more the / engages within society the more knowledge and understanding the me can gain about the world and society around them. If an individual is missing the organization of the roles and rules associated with the game, individuals will be
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unable to properly play the game (Mead 1934). This understanding not only helps the self to be able to form self-imageby seeing itself (the self) as others doas well as the individuals forming self-awareness.
Although Meads ideas about the self may be slightly outdated compared to newer theorist who have developed his ideas, his ideas about the self can still be seen within the newer idea of coercive control. When an abuser is constantly changing the rules and expectationsyet, judging their partner through their lack of understandingit can cause turmoil in the abused self-worth. If the abused were to finally understand what their partner expected, there is nothing stopping the partner from again changing the rules and expectations. If the abuser is successful, he can ensure that he keeps control over his partner due to his partner having to navigate ever changing information.
This Meads relation to coercive control can also be found within the abused distancing from friends and family. If an individual develops their sense of self through social experience and activities, isolation from social situations can lead to a loss of self in the abused. It also could influence how an individual organizes their memories (Mead 1934). That is, individuals tend to date things back to their previous experience with a similar situation. If the abuser continually plays mind games or demeans them, the victims sense of self would begin to tie back to the previous time they were in a similar situation. As a result, the abuseds self would begin to alter based on a distorted viewone that is solely based on their partners interaction and response with them.
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Goffman focused on a similar aspect, where he believed that there were different acts individuals took part in. These various acts were part of a larger performance which would include everyone presentin ones immediate physical presence-during an interaction (Goffman 1959). The label that Goffman gives to the most central part of the performance is fronts. These fronts have been tailored through trial-and-error to best fit any situation that the self might encounter, based upon their previous experiences (Goffman 1959). These were not unchanging fronts. Instead, they would develop, and fine-tuned, based on more interactions with a given situation and new fronts could simultaneously be created if the experience was new.
Two terms were created by Goffman to identify how well an individual maintained their front: to give and to give off. To give within a presentation of a front consists of fashion, verbal symbols, or other sign-equipment with a common understanding, while to give off consists of behavior, body language, and emotion (Goffman 1959). It is the goal of the individual to present a front which the audienceother individualsbuy into and would expect to see. In terms of IPV, these performances would be seen in the behaviors of both the abused and the abuser.
Traits of Abusers
A common trait among abusers stem from jealousy and passiveness (Downs 1996; Loue 2001; Draucker et al. 2012), which can prompt uncontrollable, explosive outburst of rage (Downs 1996) or other dramatic mood swings over usually small
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periods of time. Despite the sometimes drastic nature of the mood swings, abusers can try to justify their actions either through an ensuing argument or by trying to link the outburst to either alcohol or drug use (Buel 1999; Draucker et al. 2012).
Another common trait among abusers is the abuser may have witnessed abuse within the family of origin. The abuse within the family of origin can range from child abuse and maltreatment or marital violence (Schechter 1982; Draucker et al. 2012). It is not only abuse within the household that influences the child toward similar behavior later in life, but it is also among their peer groups. When abusers were surrounded by other individuals who engage in a range of abusive activities, both physical and non-physical, during their adolescence, the risk is higher that they will also engage in these actions. This is done because they have gotten verification from their peers that this behavior is acceptable and a social norm which can continue to be modeled by the group (Bryant and Zillmann 1986; Ellis, Chung-Hall, and Dumas 2013).
There are others, however, who say that abuse is not solely a copied behavior but instead is a learned form of self-maintenance (Loue 2001) or that adults are more likely to commit crimes, particularly violent ones, compared to juveniles so all of childrens media viewing and experiences should not be blamed with a universal blanket statement (Sternheimer 2010).
The Framing of Abuse and Violence by the Media
In a society which is constantly being bombarded with a large array of images and created expectations from the media, it is fair to say that the media plays an
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important role on how people act within society. Yet, there is little research done which directly addresses the impacts of the media on IPV. Instead, much of the research will either focus on media violenceboth eroticized and non-eroticized types of violenceand the effects that these types of images have on viewers (Linz, Donnerstein, and Pendrod 1984; Mullin & Linz 1995), and still other research explore how the violence is played out in filmthat is whether a film depicts acts of violence against an individual are explicit or non-explicit in nature (Mullin & Linz 1995;
Sparks, Sparks & Sparks 2005).
Mullin and Linz (1995), for example, were one of a few scholars who began to examine the effects of viewing violence and opinions toward IPV. They found that men who were exposed to acts of sexual violence became desensitized and exhibited a lessened sensitivity to victims of domestic violence (Mullin and Linz 1995:456). Although Mullin and Linz had their focus on IPV, this lessened sensitivity toward real life violence after viewing violence in the media is a common finding among scholars and film critics alike. Many believe that violence in the real world becomes more acceptable after youve seen infinitely greater violence on the screen (Mullin and Links 1995:449).
Other scholars, while not directly gearing their studies toward IPV, examine the extent that violenceand the perception and desensitization of violencecarries over into everyday life. Linz, Donnerstein, and Penrod (1984) noted that some individuals contend that the continual portrayal of women in film and other mass media as victims. .encourage the battering and sexual harassment of women in real life (Linz et al. 1984:130). Not only are people seeing violence and then, in turn,
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parroting it, but the extent of what they are seeing is no longer affecting them in a negative way.
The media also helps create stereotypes with its repetitionand thus normalizationof images and ideas. This repetition allows the media to perpetuate images about deviant acts, such as those which occur between individuals within IPV. In her article, Battered Women and Their Assailants, Carlson talks about three prevailing stereotypes about battered women. The three main stereotypes are: (1) women are sadomasochisticthey enjoy being abused and that is why they choose to stay; (2) women instigate the assaults through antagonistic verbal behavior; (3) women in these relationships are outspoken and domineering who exploit the passiveness and dependency of their partners, to violentor even deadly consequences. Despite her article being written in 1977, the three stereotypes which Carlson examines have changed very little within the past several decades.
Many individuals within the general public still believe many of these same stereotypes of victims of IPV. The general public continues to view the fault almost solely with the victim, while placing little or no blame on the abuser as it is easier to write the abuse off on it being the victims fault (Pagelow 1992). Even the victims greater use of traditional self-defense laws (Osthoff & Maguigan 2005:229), which date back to the mid-1970s, have done little to change the opinion of some individuals. However, these three ways of thinking can be extremely detrimental to individuals experiencing these volatile types of relationships. By laying the blame solely on the shoulders of the abused, any changes or advancements in domestic violence laws will be fighting an uphill battle against these perpetuated images.
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Duncan Wheeler (2009) attempted to examine both common and representational strategies within films dealing with domestic violence. Wheeler examined five mainstream films which had been shown within English-language cinemas, and sought to approach the analyses of these films as a feminist criticism rather than through a films study lens. Ultimately, Wheeler noted that, cinematic depictions of the problem have, at best, a nebulous relationship to real-life incidents of abuse (Wheeler 2009:172) and that he attempted to tease out potential meanings to hope that a debate might arise on how domestic violence could be and should be represented within films. His examination of these films, however, do not feel fully grounded, nor do they make any real attempts to explain the films relation to the reality of domestic violence. Instead, Wheelers findings seemed to be solely how domestic violence is merely a mechanism, along with casting, solely to create a thriller. Many of his analyses of the events within the films examined were not completely accurate to what had been depicted within the films, which may have resulted in some of his skewed biases for the depiction of violence within the films as well as his incomplete analysis.
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CHAPTER 3
METHODS Content Analyses
A content analysis is the examination of images, body of texts, and/or symbolic matter which is then analyzed to discover patterns, important relationships or defining characteristics of the examined aspects (Krippendorff 2004; Riffe, Lacy, and Fico 2014). Although content analyses have been conducted throughout time, it is within the past several decades that content analyses have become used progressively more to examine a variety of issues, particularly within different forms of media content. These different forms of media content can include, but are not limited to: TV showssuch as daytime soap operas, reality shows or entire newscastsfilms, individual camera shots within a dramatic show or film, advertisements, literatureeither in book or newspapers and magazinesand/or speeches. The practice of examining the wide variety of media content has moved from being only within the fields of journalism and mass communication, to being adopted by disciplines such as sociology, psychology along with other social sciences.
This influx of so many disciplines turning to using content analyses has resulted in the disciplines contributing their own research methods and theoretical perspectives to approach the viewing of this material in a different way (Riffe, Lacy, and Fico 2014). With the variety of different disciplines using content analyses, the function of the content analysis has become more diverse and have become an end in itself, instead of being merely a mechanism to help other quantitative or qualitative
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methods to explain a bigger research question. The addition of this diversity has allowed other fields the ability to examine messages such as the way scenes are framed; how different minority groups are presented; the acceptability of certain actions of individuals; or how differing views are presented to the viewer (Riffe, Lacy, and Fico 2014).
While content analyses are sometimes viewed as being a lesser tool to use for research, a coded content analysis was the best fit for this study. This is largely due to the nature of the data, which consists entirely of film depictions of IPV. A content analysis allowed for the ability to look at films from a range of years, as well as giving the option of coding, and recoding, the data. This allowed for any errors which may have been found to be corrected. Another advantage of conducting a content analysis for this study was its economy in terms of both time and money (Babbie, 2015). With The goals of this content analysis was to identify and assess the content of IPV and to be able to find recurrent patterns in the representation of abuse within films.
Data
Sample and Sampling
The data consists of nine films that deal with IPV. The films were selected through a combination of convenience and purposive sampling. For the convenience sampling aspect, the films were chosen due to their availability. They were acquired through DVD, taping them from TV, or through YouTube. They were then narrowed down through purposive sampling, particularly a homogeneous purposive sampling.
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The sample was assembled around the shared characteristic of women being the victims of abuse and men being the perpetrators of the abuse. The characteristic of whitness of the abused and/or abuser was also taken into consideration for purposive sampling, although was not exclusive.
The nine films chosenwhile lacking in diversity in regards to racecovered a wide breadth of abuse and types of intimate partner relationships. The relationships depicted range from ones which were dating relationships, perceived dating relationships, and those where the individuals had been married for several years. These data are also able to give a sense as to how the factors that contribute or hinder a flight from an abusive relationship may have changed in their portrayal in films, as these films range from 1989 to 2013. The films ended up falling into one of two categories: (1) showing the relationship and, subsequently, the escalation of abuse from the coming together as a couple through the separation and aftermath of the relationship; (2) do not show how the relationship was initially established although, that portion may be explored within the narrative of the filmbut instead deal more with the escape and the aftermath, in which the individuals try to create a new life within society. These nine films were also chosen, in large part, as they were accessible. Made-for-TV movies, in particular, which deal with the subject of IPV are not necessarily released to DVD, so they had been recorded during their airing.
Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story is a 1989 film directed by Robert Markowitz and stars Nancy McKeon, as Tracey, and Dale Midkiff, as Buck Thurman, and revolves around an almost exclusively white cast. This film is one of the three
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films which notes that it is based on a true story, and shows the relationship in its entirety, and was a made-for-TV movie. After its initial opening scene, showing a badly beaten Tracey, the film flashes back to when Tracey had been working at a hotel and met Buck, who was very charming. Shortly after, Buck begins to become violent, citing his own abusive childhood. When a pregnant Tracey leaves him, he follows her and promises her that he will never hit her again and wanted to marry her, to which Tracey hesitantly agrees. After their son C.J. is born, Buck returns to his old ways which leads Tracey to leaving him and moving away. When Buck finds her again, she realizes that the police protection for her restraining orders is nonexistent, as they do not see her issue as one they should be involved in. The police also go so far as implying to Buck that they are siding with him. When Buck confronts Tracey one last time, it leads to near deadly consequences for her. The results of these injuries lead not only to a groundbreaking court case but also leads to many legal changes for domestic violence cases.
Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) shows a glimpse into one of the last interactions between a married couple before the escape from the relationship occurs. This film was directed by Joseph Ruben and stars Julia Roberts, as Laura, with Patrick Bergin as her controlling husband, Martin. This film centers around a white cast and was released initially to theaters before finding its way to airing on TV. The film opens to the audience being witness to some aspects of Martins controlling nature by the way he tells Laura what he wants her to wear, to Laura correcting the direction that the cans in the cupboard need to face after Martin reprimanded her for the hand towels being unevenly placed on the rack. Laura fakes
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her own death while on a boating tripunder the guise that she cannot swimto ultimately escape Martin and ends up moving to a small town in Iowa. As she tries to create a new life for herself, she meets her neighbor Ben (Kevin Anderson) and, after some hesitation, finally begins to trust him enough to open up to him. Yet, all is not perfect when Marin finds out that his wife had lied about several things during their time together, such as Lauras mother not dying. This leads Martin to suspect that Laura may not in fact be dead. This newfound knowledge leads Martin to track down Laura and he breaks into her house. It all ends with a standoff between Laura and Martin where Laura, ultimately, kills Martin.
Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? (1996) was directed by Jorge Montesi and stars Tori Spelling as Laurel and Ivan Sergei as Billy. This film is different from the others, in the sense that unlike most where the women change their name upon leaving the relationship, it is Billy who is trying to avoid the police for the murders he committed in the films opening and adopts a name of a fellow high school classmate, Kevin. This film follows an all-white cast and, while intended for a theatrical release in the United States, ended up debuting as a TV movie, and has developed somewhat of a cult following and a 2016 remake. It also shows the relationship in its entirety.
Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? follows Laurel, a college student, as she meets Billy, who very quickly becomes completely infatuated with Laurel. Billy not only monitors Laurels activities but he also wants to be the only one that Laurel spends time with. When she needs space, or if Billy senses that he does not have complete control over her thoughtsparticularly when he attempts to undermine
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Laurels relationship with her mother to distance the pair through controlhe becomes aggressive and jealous. He finally is able to convince her to move from her all girls dormitory, one that he had forced his way into, into a somewhat isolated cabin. It is here that Billy isolates her further by refusing to have a phone line installed and tampering with her car, and resorts to drugging her when she tries to leave him. Meanwhile, her mother, sensing Billy is hiding something, finds out he killed his high school girlfriend who had attempted to break up with him. Sensing that he is losing control over Laurel, he takes her to her familys remote cabin. When Laurel wakes up and tries to escape, Billy becomes physically violent in his attempts to stop her from leaving. When she manages to escape, shortly before the arrival of her mother to save her from Billy, she runs to the lake where the final standoff between Billy and Laurel occurs. To buy time, Laurel uses her mother as the scapegoat as to why she and Billy cannot be together, as Billy is threatening to kill both Laurel and her mother. Accepting her deception, Laurel attacks Billy with an oar from the dock, knocking him into the late, and presumably killing him. It is within the last scene, however, that we find that Billy was not killed and instead is on another college campus, with a new identity and a college girl who looks and behaves similar to Laurel and his first, murdered, girlfriend.
No One Would Tell is a 1996 a made-for-TV film directed by Noel Nosseck that shows the relationship in its entiretythat is, shows the coming together of the couple through the termination of the relationship and the subsequent aftermath of the termination of the relationship. This film is loosely based on a true story. This film revolves around an all-white main cast. The film follows two high school students
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Bobby (Fred Savage), the attractive wrestler, and Stacy (Candace Cameron), the shy fellow student, as they navigate their dating relationship. At first, they are both very happy and spend nearly all their time together. However, slowly Bobby becomes jealous of the attention Stacy gives to, and receives from, other guys in school and his possessive colors begin to show. These possessive qualities slowly lead to violence from Bobby and leads to a growing distance between Stacy and her friends. When Stacy finally ends the relationship, Bobby plans to win her back because if he cannot have her, no one will. Upon apologizing to her, he takes her to their spot at the lake. During an argument, Bobby grabs Stacy and slits her throat killing her. With the help of a friend, he hides her body in the lake and participates extensively in the search for her, much to the dislike of her friends who know he played a part. When Stacys body is ultimately found, Bobby is convicted and the judge leaves the courtand, subsequently, the viewer, with a final note that if one witnesses dating violence something needs to be said.
As with No One Would Tell, Enough (2002) is another film that shows the relationship in its entirety. Directed by Michael Apted, this film was originally released in theaters. The film stars Jennifer Lopez, as Slim, and Billy Campbell as her husband, Mitch. There is a good deal of diversity among this cast, with the inclusion of several Hispanic individuals as well as African American individuals in the form of crooked FBI agents and helpful trainers and lawyers. The film follows how Slim and Mitch first meet at a diner, marry, and have their daughter, Gracie. A few years after Gracie was born, Slim finds out that Mitch is sleeping around with another woman and, upon confronting him about it, he hits her and says that since
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he makes the money he can do what he wants. Mitch also notes that if Slim wants him to stop, she can fight him. With no help from the police or Mitchs mother Slim decides to take Gracie and leave, with only support from her small group of family and friends. With Mitch determined to get Gracie back, even if it means the death of Slim, he calls on help fromas well as resorting to blackmailfriends in positions of power, such as in the police department. Knowing Mitch will not stop looking for her, and after being found once by him and nearly killed, Slim trains herself to be able to fight back against him and protect herself and Gracie. Knowing what she is about to do, Slim sends Gracie on a trip with Slims best friend, Ginny. Knowing that she has a very small window to go after Mitch, Slim breaks into Mitchs house, under the guise of being in San Francisco for a custody hearing. While Mitch is at work, she cases the house, removes the numerous guns and potential weapons Mitch has hidden around his house, prepares herself for a fight and waits until he gets home. Ultimately, Slim uses her training to confront him, and goes about killing him, before she is killed; although, the final act of killing him was entirely in self-defense. When the police arrive, who Ginny had called when she lost a phone connection with Slim, she looks meek and like the victim, to which the police note that she is a lucky one.
In the end, she and Gracie are reunited and are headed to the Emerald City, which is Seattle, to a life with an old boyfriendand a support at various points during the filmJoe (Dan Futterman).
Intimate Stranger (2006) was directed by Bert Kish and stars Kari Matchett, as Karen, and Peter Outerbridge, as Denis. The film follows a white cast, was a made-for-TV movie, and shows the relationship in its entirety. Karen is a divorced,
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single mother of a nine-year-old son, Justin. Her ex-husband, John, was controllingwhich was the reason they got divorcedand is not particularly involved in Justins life, much to Karen and Justins dismay. Her sister believes that Karen sabotages all her relationships, yet her sister continually tries to set her up. It is through her sisters husband, she meets Denis. Denis is handsome and very attentive which, at first, Karen appreciates, especially after he makes an effort to bond with Justin. When weird things start happeningsuch as noises in her attic, as well as telephone calls that all have the caller hanging up without talkingKaren begins to suspect an ex-boyfriend is stalking her. With the uncertainty with the weird things happening, on top of Denis moving too fast in their relationship and his over attentiveness, Karen breaks up with Denis. Soon after their break-up, Karen starts getting very sick and the odd occurrences keep occurring which leads her to reaching out to the police. As she confronts her ex-husband and ex-boyfriend, she finds out that Denis may be the one she should be worried about. With the police telling her that Denis is saying she had threatened himwhen she had confronted him to stay away from her and Justinshe is put in a place of little protection. When Denis abducts Karen from her home, with the intent of taking her to a gravesite and killing her, she manages to crash the car, subsequently ejecting Denis through the windshield. Getting out of the car, Karen draws her gun but before Karen can shoot Denis, the police arrive and tell her to stop and arrest Denis. The police tell her that had she not done what she did, with crashing the car, she would have been murdered. The film ends with Karen, Justin, and her boss Alex (Jonas Chernick) who had been romantically interested in her, although she earlier had noted their
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age difference as the reason they could not be togetherhappily hanging out outside at her sisters house.
Past Obsessions (2011) was directed by Raul Inglis, and stars Josie Davis, as Shane, and David Millbern as her husband, Matt. The film consist primarily of a white cast, was a made-for-TV film, and shows a glimpse of the final days of the abusive relationship and the escape from the relationship. In the beginning of the film we learn that Shane stays at home, but is very artistic and has her own studio, while Matt is a wealthy and prominent real estate developer. It is before and after a dinner party that the audience catches a glimpse of the range of controlling behavior and abuse Matt inflicts on Shane. While on a hike and ziplining tour for Matts birthday, Shane fakes her own deathunder the guise getting lost in the woodsto escape from Matt. She ends up moving to a small town in the Northwest where a cousin, Estelle (Sonja Bennet) lives. With the help of Estelle and Estelles partner, Meg (Alisen Down), she begins to create a new life within this small community and meets a local Thomas (Lochlyn Munro). Yet, when a GPS company calls Shane about a product recall, and instead reaches Matt, Matt begins to find out that he was lied to about several things and Shane likely is not dead. With this new knowledge, Matt tracks down Shanekilling two individuals who had helped Shane, and nearly killing Thomas. It ends with a standoff between Shane and Matt, resulting in Matts death.
Shadow of Fear (2012) was directed by Michael Lohman and stars Amanda Righetti, as Casey, Will Estes, as Morgan, and Christie Burson as Toni. The film follows an almost exclusively white cast, although there is one African American
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male in a supporting friend role, and was made-for-TV. It is the final film to claim that it was based on a true story. The film focuses on Casey, a recent college graduate who works at a local coffee shop during the day and a bar at night, as well as writing for a local paper. It is when her boss, Annette (Catherine Hicks), hires Morgan to help around the coffee shop where the course of the film begins to alter. After a brief stint at the coffee shop, and after reacting somewhat aggressively with a customer, Morgan stops showing up for work. However, he saw his brief interactions with Casey as much more, so much that he thought there was a connectioneven a relationshipbetween them. He begins calling the coffee shop, monitoring her from his new job across the street, writing letters to her, following her, and leaving dozens of messages on her home phone. Finally, Casey turns to the police for help, and after blaming her for Morgans advances, finds out that there is nothing they can do until Morgan makes an actual threat against her. Afraid to leave her house, Casey withdraws which worries both her friends and family. Eventually, a police detective tries to help her and through a handful of confrontations with Morgan, and finding out he not only has sealed records but should be taking prescribed medication to control schizophrenia, he finally makes enough of a threat to give the police reason to arrest him. The film shows the group in the aftermath of Caseys stalking and shows that while the events may be over, she is still dealing with the effects of the stalking in her everyday life.
Lasse Hallstroems Safe Haven (2013) is the final film where the leading woman Erin (Julianne Hough) leaves an abusive marital relationship for a small town, in an attempt to start a new life. This film was originally released in theaters
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and follows an all-white main cast. In this town, she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower who takes an instant liking to Erin. Erins husband, Kevin (David Lyons), is a cop who is beyond desperate to get her back, especially after having been stabbed by her during her escape attempt. Kevin resorts to putting out wanted posters for Erin for attempted murder, which results in him being suspended from the police force. When Alex finds the poster, and that her name is really Erin as he had been under the notion it was Katie, he feels initially betrayed. It is only when Erin is about to leave that Alex stops her to hear more about her story. Upon hearing that her husband was an abusive alcoholic, Alex tells her he is determined to protect her from her husband. However, when Erins husband tracks her down during the towns Fourth of July firework show, it turns out to be an explosive end for the couple. A heavily intoxicated Kevin finds Erin during the days festivities and confronts her that night at Alexs general store during the fireworks show, demanding she come home with him. When Erin tells him to leave, Kevin begins to douse the store with gasoline and draws a gun, intending to burn the store down. Trying to protect Alexs daughter, who is inside the store, Erin agrees to go back home with him. Once his guard is down, she pushes him in the water, just in time to see the store ignites due sparks from the fireworks. Alex, who is shooting off the fireworks for the town across the bay, jumps into the boat when he sees his shop on fire and manages to get back and rescue his daughter. Before Erin can get back inside or help Alex, Erin is attacked by Kevin and during a struggle for the gun, the gun fires and kills Kevin.
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Coding
The codes were created in a two-step process. They were originally pulled from concepts within the literature. They were then examined and solidified during the initial examination of two filmsSleeping with the Enemy and No One Would Tell. The codes created were subsequently applied when examining the remaining seven films. These two films were chosen at random from four filmsSleeping with the Enemy, No One Would Tell, Enough, and Safe Havenas these had been four films that were previously secured to be examined.
All nine films were watched at least three times to make sure the codes were applied consistently. While coding, both latent and manifest aspects were noted. Latent coding means to code the underlying meaning presented within an artifact in this case a filmwhile manifest coding examines the visible, surface content. Manifest coding has the advantage of increased reliability through depicting which codes were used and how coding was done. As Earl Babbie (2015) notes, compared to latent coding, manifest coding may be disadvantaged in terms of validity as the deeper meaning of concepts could be overlooked. However, through the use of the literature to help create the codes, this shortcoming was attempted to be curbed.
The codes that developed were: factors that hinder, factors that facilitate, and characteristics of [the primarily main characters]. Factors that hinder could include any aspect that stopped or prevented the victim from leaving the abusive relationship. This could include lack of support from outside sources, such as friends or police, or lack of resources. Factors that facilitate could include any aspect that
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helped the victim leave the abusive situation. This could include resources available to the victim, knowledge/traits that the victim did not share with the abusersuch as the ability to swim or being able to defend themselvesor support from friends or law enforcement. Characteristics of tended to be broken down between primarily the victim and the abused, although it could include other secondary individuals who had a lot of contact with either the abused or victim.
While it was not a definitive category, an other category was developed as an area to take notes on other notable scenes/moments of interest that occurred within the film. Aspects within the other could include an individual having back-up plans to aid in their separation from their husband, the form of transportation used to leave the relationship, victim blaming by non-primary or key secondary characters, or other observations which were not characteristics of the individuals or factors that facilitated or hindered the escape from the abusive relationship.
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CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS
Portrayal of Individuals: The Abused
Characteristics
Age. While rarely explicitly specified, the nine films covered a range of ages. Of the nine films, the supposed ages of the women ranged from their teensStacy, a high school student is presumably 16 or 17 years oldto being more within the bracket of middle aged, specifically Karen, a mother, who was in her mid-to-late 30s. While the ages were not explicitly given in most cases, Tracey is the only one where there is a very solid age bracket. This is largely based on it being a film based on a true story, and she was approximately 24 or 25 when her husband almost killed her.
This approximately 20-year age range is interesting to note. The literature notes that IPV is not something that happens exclusively to teenagers, middle-aged women, or young adults. Abuse is something that can happen to older adults and seniors as well, yet that is not what is depicted within the films. None of the nine films addressed this older age group, nor were there any notable films which were in the category of IPV and not examined in this research. This brings an aspect that popular culture could and should explore within future films.
Changes in appearance and name. Of the nine films, it was typically those who were married to their abuser that changed their name and/or appearance. Four of the women changed their name upon leaving the relationship, all of which had
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been married to their abuser. As for changes in appearances, four women changed their hair style or color, with three of the four being married.
These changes were something which was done to try to not only blend into the community they were moving to, but it was also used as an attempt to disappear from their abuser. In two of the instances, Laura and Shane, their abuser believed they had died and were not looking for them. To help aid in this rebirth of sorts, they used the change in name and appearance as a way to separate from their previous way of life. The changes in appearance for Laura had been the length of her hair, although she had worn a wig while traveling on the bus to disguise herself further.
As for the changes for Erin, she changed both the length and color of her hair going from a brunette to a blondeafter fleeing from her husband yet before leaving town, which ultimately gave her husband an identifier as to how she might currently look as he was looking for her. Slim also changes her hairstyle, particularly the length, after she and her daughter leave Mitch.
Changes in appearance were not the only aspect. Enough shows Slim changing her name in a way that is not entirely legal. After examining old obituary sections of local newspapers, she went to a government office claiming to have lost her birth certificate and received both a birth certificate and drivers license. Essentially, she commits identity theft. Upon being found by Mitch, Slim ditches this identity as it had been compromised. Nevertheless, Slim is the only one to get paperwork to back up her fake identity and name change. This contrasts with Erin, Laura, and Shane who simply adopt a new name with no forms of identification to back up that identity. This is also notable because although they identify under new
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names, they were never asked to show proof of their identity despite renting houses (Erin and Laura) and applying to jobs in their new location (Erin).
While this was something that nearly half the women did, and has become somewhat of a stereotype within films depicting IPV, it is something that is either not examined or prominently noted within the literature. It is perplexing, then, to have this notion of being either on the run or hiding from the abuser where the woman must change her name and appearance when it is not an aspect which is supported within literature on abuse. It brings into question where this narrative came from when not supported by society. Also, with how many forms of identification one typically needs when seeking to rent a house, apartment, or simply applying for a job, it brings into question if this provides an unrealistic expectation by the media of how easy it is to just assume a new name and identity if one wants to disappear.
Children. While in some instances children were part of the dynamic, children were present within only four films, and of five children, only two children were from a relationship between the abused and their partner. In Intimate Stranger, Karen had a child who came from a previous marriage. In Safe Haven, Erin dated a man, after leaving the abusive relationship, who had two small children. In the case of the latter, the children had developed a relationship with Katie and she felt the need to protect those children from her abusive partner.
In the two instancesSlim from Enough and Tracey from A Cry for Help where the child came from the relationship between the abused and abuser, there was more of a grey area. Both Slim and Tracey, initially, were hesitant to leave their
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abusers, in part, because they did not want their child growing up without a father figure and/or needed support of the husbands. In both cases the children were also used as a tool by the abusers to try and keep the women with them and not acting out/trying to leave. This struggle is very consistent to the literature as children tend to be put in this position as a tool.
Personality. While not a universal split, there was an interesting grouping of personalities between those who were dating and those who were married. For those women who were married, they tended to embody characteristics such as: shy, quiet, passive, or being generally reserved. The women also had traits that are generally associated with femininity, such as artistic, nurturing, and feeling indebted to their partner for the support they provided
While these women could be viewed as weaker because of their very caring and overtly feminine traits, they tended to consistently be much more cunning, smart, and deceptive. These planning and deceptive traits not only helped them plan and carry out their escape from the abuse, but also helped them stay off the radar after escaping. However, their carefully planned escape was often somehow compromised which tipped off their husbands as to where they were. These deceptive traits and outside factors will be discussed in more detail later.
Upon leaving the relationship, those who were married tended to be less trusting of outsiders, particularly males, compared to their dating counterparts who were more willing to engage with friends or strangers. They were jumpy when people would make quick motions (seen with Laura and Shane) and did not respond
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well to excessive questioning (seen with Erin, Laura, and Shane). Laura noted to a woman on the bus that her friendwhich she used as a cover for herself, and as a way to remove herself slightly while sharing her storysaw herself as weak by staying in the relationship as long as she did; a statement which was refuted by the passenger saying she was strong for leaving which Laura did not fully believe.
In comparison to the married women, those who were dating tended to be strong, outgoing, self-sufficient, and sure of themselves. These women tended to speak their mind, not feel as though they needed a man to complete them, and be very active in sports or just normal physical exercise.
Three of the four individuals in dating relationships were either in school or recently graduated, and two of the four individuals were working. In both work and school, they were noted by numerous individuals as either being good workers, employees, or students, indicating a strong work ethic. For Casey this work ethic was just a show with putting her multiple jobs before her love life or relaxation time; with Laurel, her work-ethic appeared when she poured herself into school and sportswhich partly stemmed from coping with an eating disordergetting two majors while studying for classes in China, and being on the track team; with Karen she put her work ahead of her health, refusing to go home until her co-worker makes her. It also is important to note that those who were in dating relationships tended to have a much higher level of education than those who were married to their abuser. This could largely support why they are self-sufficient because they had the background and schooling to be able to support themselves easier than their
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married counterparts. This could also be because a common aspect was a financial or family issue that hindered those who were married from additional schooling.
Types of Abuse
Economic abuse. The women who were married to their abuser were the ones who primarily experienced economic abuse. Both Laura and Shane accumulated and hid money from their partner, to aid in a future escape. In Lauras case, it was noted that she did work part-time at the local library. However, with the amount of money she had saved, and where she had it stored, it is likely that Martin did not know about how much she had. This also could indicate that Laura may have taken it from another sourcesuch as through excess cash of groceriesalthough it is never mentioned or explored within the film.
Upon leaving her partner, Erin was given some money by her neighbor. This would indicate that she did not have access to other finances, nor had she planned to leave like she did, so she did not have money saved. Slim, too, was a stay-at-home mother, after her marriage, leaving her with only the joint finances with Mitchtheir credit cards and bank account. This became an issue when she left Mitch. Not only did this connection leave a trail of where she was, but Mitch was able to report the cards stolen and cancel the cards, leaving Slim reliant on her friends for support.
For Tracey, at various points, both she and Buck were employed. However, after she had her son, Buck was the sole breadwinner. Tracey, subsequently, was financially dependent on him. However, while she was very aware of the money they
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had to work with, Buck was prone to gambling his paycheck away. This left Tracey not only few resources to leave with, but also minimal resources to help feed herself or their son. Also, at one point when they were by her family, Buck complained about the lack of jobs and requested they move back to Florida, claiming they would return once they had more money to live on. As was Bucks nature, once they were in Florida he had not intent on saving money and quickly returned to his gambling ways. This, again left Tracey secluded from friends and family, as well as having limited finances.
Although, they were not married to their abuser, Casey (Shadow of Fear) and Karen (Intimate Stranger) also experienced forms of economic abuse. Flowever, the economic abuse in both Casey and Karens case came largely as a byproduct of the stalking. In Karens case, Denis was taking important work documents from her, which, on at least one occasion, caused her to lose a big client. If he were to continue to do this, it could put her in a position where she would be laid off from her job or simply that she would not make enough money to live independently.
With Morgan constantly calling Casey, monitoring her actions, and unexpectedly showing up at her place of employment, she was unable to maintain two jobs. Flad her boss, Annette, not be so understanding and supportive she would have not had any jobs or financial opportunity. While Morgan did not directly control her ability to acquire, use and maintain economic security (Adams et al. 2008:564), his behavior resulted in Casey struggling to financially support herself.
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Physical abuse. Physical abuse was present in seven of the nine films, with all the films with married couples depicting physical abuse. While not the only form of abuse used, A Cry for Help, Enough, No One Would Tell, Past Obsessions, Safe Haven, and Sleeping with the Enemy, put emphasis on this being one of the primary forms of abuse which the perpetrator of abuser chose to use. Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? did show Billy choking Laurel when she attempted to leave, although physical abuse was not the primary form which Billy used. The depictions of physical abuse included slapping/hitting/punching, kicking/stomping, shoving, forcefully grabbing, and choking. These methods of physically attacking ones partner, were in line with what the literature indicated, and did not include many new or unique depictions of physical violence.
Psychological abuse. It was those who were in dating relationships who were more likely to experience psychological abuse. The forms of psychological abuse depicted included: manipulation (Intimate Stranger and Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?), controlling behaviorseen in all films but Intimate Stranger and Shadow of Fear distancing their partners from family and friendsshown in all the filmsand criticism or name-callingpresent in all films except Intimate Stranger. These approaches to psychological abuse overlapped consistently with what the literature presented of the issue.
Psychological abuse for Karen stemmed through Denis attempts to make himself needed. This manifested in two ways: through drugging Karen; and attempting to manipulate her into feeling guilty by being extra chivalrous. While the manipulation is an aspect which is shown in the literature, it was the drugging that
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deviated slightly. When she was drugged, Karen would black out and would not be able to remember what happened or who she may have talked to. Denis was banking on the fact that, in her weakened state, Karen would see that she needed him around. However, that turned out to not be the case, as she turned to her family and co-workers for support instead of him.
While much which happened to Casey could easily qualify as stalking, there also was a predominant element of psychological abuse. That is, within the constant barrage of phone and letter messagesclaiming that she was a killer and an all-around horrible personthis can begin to affect someone mentally. This constant criticism and name-calling, essentially, was meant to harm her self-worth. It also was an attempt, by Morgan, to control Casey.
Stalking. Nearly all the women experienced stalking to some degree. Casey, Karen, Laurel, Stacy, and Tracey dealt with extreme instances of stalking by their abuser. In Laurels case, Billy would know things like how long she would be gone to class, on a run, or know exactly where to find her throughout the day. In instances where he waited at her dorm for heralthough they had no plans to meet or see each otherhe would then be angry that she was not where she was supposed to be when he thought she was supposed to be there. He also seemed doubtful that she would have gone on a longer run, implying that she was doing something secret or doing something with someone not him.
Stacy has a similar experience with stalking. Bobby would monitor who she was with, how long she was with them, and where she was, even in situations where
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he did not fully know if Stacy was there. For example, when talking over the phone to a girl who liked Bobby, Bobby asked her if Stacy was at the bowling alleywhere this girl was. Upon finding out Stacy was indeed there, he asked this girl to get Stacy so he could talk to her. He would also behave similarly when Stacy was at her friends houses. Although he really should know that she was there, Bobby would then call her friends and ask to speak to Stacy just to make sure. This ease of asking other students where Stacy was, was largely aided by his popularity among the student body. This popularity stemmed from him being portrayed as one of the top athletes in the school.
Karens stalking situation was slightly more unique. Early on in her relationship with Denis, he had found out about a previous boyfriend of Karens. This previous boyfriend, after only their first date thought he and Karen were meant to be. He would also do everything in threes: three back-to-back calls, three dozen roses, and so on. When Karen originally took a break from Denis, he began copying this patternessentially being a copycat stalker. This caused Karen to believe that it was her previous boyfriend trying to get in touch again, and completely dismissed that it could be Denis or anyone else for that matter. Despite believing she knew who the perpetrator of the stalking was, his calls at random times of the night still got to her. As an effect of the stalking, she became prone to outbursts of frustration toward family, friends, and the police. This type of monitoring, although copycat in nature, is supported by the literature as the nature and effects of stalking.
Like Karen, Caseys stalking was different than both Laurel and Stacys. However, it was likely the most representative of the literature and had the most
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extreme instances of stalking in any of the films. In Caseys situation, her abuser not only followed and monitored her on errands, he would both call and show up at her place of employment. He also sent bins full of mail to her, followed her and her cousin to her bosss vacation houseultimately resulting in his arrestand filled up her answering machine daily with accusations that his behavior was entirely her fault. All of these behaviors provided a high level of fear within Casey. Instead of being able to go to her two jobs, or feel as though she could easily leave the house to go on a run, she dreaded going outside and would close all the blinds and hide within her house. This fear, ultimately, lead her to begin taking anxiety medication as she could not begin to cope with the constant bombardment of harassment. Again, this represents a broad range of what stalking encompasses, agreeing with what Tjaden & Thoennes (1998) found.
Sexual abuse. The primary forms of sexual abuse presented in the films tended to be the abuser forcing their partner to perform unwanted sexual acts, rather than attacking or mutilating sexual body parts. These acts ranged from either undressing their partner or having them put on a strip tease, both of which end in intercoursewhich were seen in Past Obsession and Sleeping with the Enemyto forcible spousal rapedepicted in A Cry for Help. This is not to say that the undressing of their partner, or forced strip tease is not spousal rape, as the abused in both instances did not appear to willing agree. However, between the situations, Laura and Shane both did not verbally object to the intercourse, whereas Tracey had during the whole rape. This lack of objection likely is an attempt to pacify their husbands and not incur further, and potentially more obvious or violent forms of
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abuse. Again, that does not negate their experience, it only attempts to code that which was depicted.
Karen, unlike the other cases, was drugged prior to the encounter. Denis had been drugging Karen with chloroform during a portion of the film, unbeknownst to her. In one scene, we witnessthrough her drugged hazekissing and touching of her body by Denis. While, she initially believed it was a dream, she later begins to suspect that it might have been real. This realization comes after a doctors visit, where Karen found out she had a bladder infectiona fairly routine occurrence when a woman has had sex recently, particularly when there was limited intercourse previously. However, this bladder infection could have also been merely a side effect of the chloroform, as it is never distinguished or clarified. Yet, with the scenes we are shown, it is suggested that it is from intercourse, indicating a rape occurred.
Portrayal of the Individuals: The Abuser
Characteristics
Control and athleticism. The characteristics of the abusers were much more consistent between the films, particularly when it came to personality. The most common personality trait was the abuser being controlling or monitoring of their partner. This trait appeared in every film, although to different extremes.
In Sleeping with the Enemy, Martin is portrayed as a man obsessed with the details of perfection, and his controlling nature can be seen in two ways. One of the ways is within his direct actions and interactions with Laura. He not only tells her what he wantsexpectsher to wear to work functions he also physically
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undresses and dresses her into clothes he bought her. His controlling tendencies are also seen when not directed at Laura. This, most noticeably, is his compulsion to have all the towels lined up perfectly and the cans, in the cupboard, facing forward. It is assumed that, while this is not related to Laura directly, she is aware of these rules and it is not solely an isolated occurrence.
Similarly, Matt from Past Obsessions, uses similar tactics of control with Shane. While Shane is getting dressed for a dinner party, Matt approaches her and questions if the outfit she has on is what she is wearing. While she believes that it is appropriate, Matt quickly reprimands her choices, noting his opinion on another outfit that she should wear instead. As Martin undressed Laura, Matt, too, does a similar aspect. However, he instead asks her to strip for him to tease him as a prelude for sex, despite how uncomfortable it makes Shane.
Where both Martin and Matts controlling nature is, in part, to give the illusion of perfection, the film Enough, instead, has Mitchs controlling nature as a mechanism to give the feel of complete power. This complete power is both over Slim and any situation thrown at him. In this, Mitch is aided by the notion that with his wealth he can buy whatever he would like; an aspect which is proven correct, or well grounded, throughout the film. A notable instance of this is when he is buying a house for Slim and himselfone that is not for sale. The homeowner is originally taken aback and does not readily accept the offer. Mitch then informs the homeowner that one crazy person (Mitch) could make his (the homeowners) life very difficult unless he chooses to self the house to them. The scene transitions from a nervous looking homeowner to Mitch and Slim moving into the house. Mitch
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managed to control the situation, and indicate to the homeowner that while he may think he has a choice in selling, all the control is really in Mitchs hands. As with Matt and Martin, this house also had the added aspect of playing into an image the abuser wanted to portray.
The control used by most of those who were in dating/co-worker relationshipsMorgan, Denis, Bobby, and Billytended to air on the side of monitoring to demonstrate control. Morgan embraced tactics which monitored Casey, such as following her or watching her, with the primary goal to exert control over her life. Billy, too, would not only follow Laurel, he would track her whereabouts and know how long she had been gone. No One Would Tell showed Bobby using other physical forms to demonstrate and gain control. He very much also relied on monitoring Stacy by coming to her house or asking their joint friends where she was. Lastly, Denis uses monitoring in both a role as a gatekeeper to remove Karen from her ex-husbandthrough removing his invitation to Justins birthday partyand by hiding/living in her crawl space which gave him access to both her house and knowledge of where she was.
It is also worth noting, on one occasion Billy in Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? suggested had Laurel change the color and style of her hair. This was to both make Laurel resemble a previous girlfriend, which he killed, as well as attempt to insert a wedge between Laurel and her mother. However, the use of direct forms of control, such as this, were much less with Billy, as he focused much more on monitoring as control which will be addressed shortly.
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While the controlling nature of the abuser was the most observed characteristic, the second most frequent traitand one which appeared to be at least moderately connected to controlwas athleticism. In over half of the films the abuser either was shown working out (Bobby, Martin, and Matt) or was in a job position which would need the individual to be active on a regular basis (Kevin,
Buck, and Morgan). The remaining three males from the remaining films were neither obese nor out of shape.
Jealousy. This was a key quality of abusers which continually was presented within the literature, and was also supported within the films. Of the nine films, six of the films had the abuser acting jealous toward their partner. The jealousy displayed primarily surrounded the abused either talking or interacting with to another man (A Cry for Help, Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?, No One Would Tell, Past Obsessions, Sleeping with the Enemy) or comments made about their partners looks from another guy (A Cry for Help, No One Would Tell, Sleeping with the Enemy). Intimate Stranger was somewhat unique when Denis just got jealous of the fact that she stayed in contact with her ex-husbandlargely because she had a son with her ex-husband; or that while Denis tried to help Karen out, she either did not want his help or would ask for help from other individuals.
History of Violence
All or nothing. There was a mentality presented by many of the abusers of, If I cant have you, no one will. This mentality was presented either as a reason for acting outBilly, for example, became particularly violent when he believed Laurel
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was going to abandon himor as a reason to kill, or try and kill, the abused. The latter option was where this concept was presented more often and encompassed both those who were dating and married to their partner. Those who, at some point, displayed this mentality of needing to kill their partner were Bobby, Buck, Denis, Kevin, Martin, Matt, and Mitch. Kevin from Safe Haven took this a step further when he began pouring gasoline over the building Erin was in, while being covered in the gasoline himself. He was ready to kill both of them rather than face the possibility of living without her. This contrasts with the others which focused more on just killing the victim for not wanting to be with them than doing a murder-suicide combination. To be fair, Matt threatens a murder-suicide combination to get Shane to come home, however he does not show or act as though he would have committed suicide after killing her, Mitch also provided a somewhat unique situation, in that he would not mind for Slim to permanently disappearsee: her deathwhich would grant him sole custody of Gracie. Slim became expendable as if she did not want to be with him, that would be fine; instead, Mitch would make sure to kill her so Slim could not be with anyone.
This was an aspect that did not show up within the literature. This absence within the literature could happen for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons could be that within the films, we are the audience member. By taking on this role, the audience is privy to informationsuch as the mental state and actions of the abuserwhich is not something that the abused may always know. As such, when a victim of abuse is being interviewed within studies, they may not be aware of the lengths their partner would have gone to keep them. Another reason could be less
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about a lack within the literature, and the films just presenting a dramatized view where an all or nothing outlook is what draws the audience and holds them in suspense.
The blame game. While this, in some cases, is similar to psychological abuse or manipulation, there is this separate section where the abusers fail to take responsibility for their feelings and instead point fingers at the victim.
When Laurel needs space, Billy blames her for having such high expectations which results in him never doing right by her. However, he fails to accept any responsibility himself that his constant presencegoing so far as to break into a girls-only dorm to be near hermay be suffocating her.
Bobby, too, wrongly directs his aggression toward Stacy. When a fellow classmate tells Bobby in the locker room that Stacy looks fineas in very good looking or hot, compared to simply meaning okay or satisfactoryin her dress, Bobby immediately goes and finds Stacy. Upon finding her, he calls her a slut for making other guys notice her. Her intentions had been to look good for Bobby, as she only had eyes for him. Bobbys misdirected anger, in part, may stem from his history within an abusive household. However, he never gets angry at fellow classmates for talking about Stacy and how she looks, he instead directs that anger solely toward her.
In Bucks case, he directs blame toward Tracey when he is the one embarrassed or feeling as though he has lost face among his friends. At one point, Tracey approached him while he was gambling their money away and called him out
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on it. When his friends snickered at his situation, he exploded violently at Tracey, noting that he does not like to be made fun of in front of his friends. Instead of reflecting on his actions which had provoked Traceys initial reaction, or even calling out his friends for their snickers, he places the blame solely at Traceys feet.
As Buck did, Morgan similarly lashes out toward individuals when he thinks he had been lied to. We initially see him verbally attack a customer who got the wrong order claiming that they were the liars and they had ordered that. Casey tries to pacify him noting that it is okay, and that they will just give the customer what they wanted. This behavior then carries over when he sets his sights on Casey being the one that lied to him, and sends numerous letters and leaves many harassing calls to try and prove his point. He even goes so far as coming into the coffee shop, which is filled with patrons, claiming that Casey killed numerous people. The curbing of this behavior is not helped by the fact that his father, who is lieutenant-governor, tries to get Casey to apologize for her behavior toward his son instead of holding his son truly accountable for his actions. It is here we witness this perpetuation of this blame game and see, in one instance, how it can become a cycle at the victims expense.
Cycle of abuse. While not all of the abusers grew up within an abusive household, nearly all of the men are participants within the cycle of abuse. In various forms, and in various degrees of regret from the abuser, the abuser either brought the abused a gift with no accompanied verbal apology (BillyJ or brought them a gift with a verbal apology (Bobby, Buck, Kevin, and Martin,). The only ones who do not apologize are Morgan and Mitch. Mitch is a unique case, however. While he never apologizes to Slim or brings her a gift, he is very much aware of the nature of his
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actions. Instead of the apologies or gifts, he informs her that if she were to accept his one-sided desire for an open marriage, she would have no need to be upset and he would not have to resort to hitting her. He brings her gifts, as he usually does, yet they were not specifically to make up for his abusive actions.
The fact that it took, in some cases, years for these women to leave their abuser, shows how hard it is to separate oneself from the cycle of abuse. The abused kept accepting the gifts and the apologies as if the abusers really meant it. These promises and differing mannerisms from the abuser make it difficult to leave, as the victim may honestly believe that they have reached a turning point within the relationship and it will get better.
Jobs and Image
Many of the men in these films rely on their jobs as a way to help support their image, or as a means of utilizing tools from their work to benefit themselves. This could largely be because most of the men are in high paying positions which helps foster an interrelationship between the job, the wealth stemming from the job, and the power and control that the job lets them feel that they have control over everything.
While it is never noted what Martin does for work, there are some identifiers that Martin is not only in a position of power at home, but also at his place of employment. Martin works in an office, which appears to do trading, where he not only has his own large officecompared to simply a cubicaland he also has his own secretary. He also, at the beginning of the film, not only has to attend business
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meetings on what appear to be a regular basis, he uses Laurawith her status as his wifeto help him during business dinners to schmooze those who he needs to influence or win favor of. In the case of the dinner, he has Laura change from something that is a bit more conservative to something less conservative but striking. Since Martin puts a lot of weight into imageboth his and those around himby changing and controlling Lauras outfit, he can guide what others think of his image. This particular change is as if to show those at the dinner that he has power and a young, beautiful woman who is his.
Like Martin, Matt shares a similarly high work status, as well as a high regard for image. After Shanes death, a news report cites Matt as a prominent real estate developer, which would help explain their very lavish, yet somewhat secluded, house. Also like Martin, Matt is very focused on image and what money can get him. According to Shane, Matt wine-and-dined her in the beginning of their relationship and paid off her considerable debtwhich was a reason she felt that she had to stay with him. Yet, like with Martin, he makes suggestionswhich are more thinly veiled demandsabout what Shane should wear to a dinner they are hosting. It is only after the dinner that Matt notes to Shane that she served the wrong wine cold, noting that it was something she should know. Although the guests made no note of it, this comment emphasizes the control and need for this idealized image of perfection where everything goes by without a hitch.
Kevin uses, and abuses, his position in law enforcement to try and find Erin. Shortly after finding out that Erin may have changed her hair style and color, he manipulates a photo of Erin to what she may currently look like. Not only does he
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use police software to do this, he then uses this image when he disperses a nationwide All-Points Bulletin (APB) for Erin under the claim that she is wanted for attempted murder. It is this poster that Erins new love interest sees and angrily confronts her about. Kevin also uses his position within law enforcement to try to gain information on Erin from those he suspects helped her, particularly their elderly neighbors. Since he has so many tools from his position at his disposal, as well as a status which allows him to question individuals and have nearly unlimited access to cameras, it makes it harder for Erin to disappear. However, it is through a combination of using these tools, wrongly accusing Erin, and his increased alcohol consumption at work, which leads to his suspension from his job by his captain.
Portrayal of the Individuals: The Lover
Of the nine films, five of the films show the abusedupon leaving or ending the relationshipfinding another man. This man could have previously been someone in the abused lifesuch as Alex in Intimate Stranger and Joe in Enough or someone they met in the new town where they settled insuch as Alex in Safe Haven, Ben in Sleeping with the Enemy, and Thomas in Past Obsessions.
Characteristics
In all the films, the love interests tend to be the foils to abusers. Where the abuser may be harsh and assertive, the love interest was easy-going and nurturing. In instances where the love interest barely knew the abused, he would still offer help and support. In some instances, the men would try a lighthearted approach and joke to make the abused at ease (Enough, Past Obsessions, and Sleeping with the
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Enemy), would bring the woman giftseither help her (Safe Haven and Sleeping with the Enemy), give simple gifts of affection (Past Obsessions)or be very protective over the abused, an aspect seen with all five men. The lovers in all five films, where there was a lover present, also give the abused space. That is, the men are very willing to wait for the abused to open up about their past and experience which brought them there. This is vastly different than the abusers who did not either want, or care, about input or experience of their partner.
Jobs
Unlike the abusers, the lovers tended to have jobs which were of lower prestige than the abuser they were a foil of. Joe is the only individual whose job was never mentioned.
In Sleeping with the Enemy, instead of Martins position in a large office which appears to be an office which deals with tradingBen is a drama teacher at the local community college. It should be noted, that it was this position at the community college that allowed Ben to help Laura visit her mother in the assisted living home. This is due to the resources of the drama departmentsuch as: hair, make-up, costumesas well as his skill in applying those resources, which Ben has at his disposal because of his position. These skills and resources help Laura go virtually unnoticed, even by Martin who physically ran into Laura in her disguise.
The differences between the two is also seen with how they relate to their coworkers/students. In Martins case, he is in a glass office where he is separated but able to see everyone. When he receives a phone call, instead of sitting for it, he
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stands and circles his desk. This power stance is lost on the individual on the phone, however the viewer is acutely aware of who he is indicating is in power. For Ben, however, when he is shown with his students, he is sitting in a chair in a circle with them. While Martin embodies the position of power, Ben, in a similar work situation, is portrayed as an equal to those who he should normally have power over.
For Past Obsession and Safe Haven, we see a similar separation between job of the lover and abuser. In Past Obsessions, where Matt was a prominent real estate developer, Thomas owns his own winery. In Safe Haven, to counterbalance Kevins position as a cop, Alex owns and runs his own convenience store. Where Matts position would primarily have him working with the best of society and Kevins positon would primarily deal with the troubled part of society, both Thomas and Alex deal with those in-between. That is, they deal with a wide range and diversity of people.
Factors that Facilitate Leaving
Deception
Across nearly all the films, while financial support did play a large role, the main factor that determined if an abused person would leave the relationshipand also determined how successful the abused would be in remaining unfoundwas the abused being cunning and deceptive. The abused needed to stay a step or two ahead of their abusers and leave false trails of breadcrumbs, or prepare for numerous situations. These are key qualities that allowed them to successfully leave the relationship.
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Erin, Laura, and Shane all used deceptions toward their husbands in their favor, at least during the initial departure. Despite having a home on the ocean,
Laura did not swim when she and Martin first got married. Unbeknownst to Martin, Laura was taking lessons at the YWCA and became a very good swimmer. This was a similar situation with Shane, that despite living in the woods she was not outdoorsy at all nor good with direction. Although, knowing she was going to try and leave, Shane prepared and bought a GPS to help her find her way out of the woods. She also used the help of Jake, the zipline guide leading them through the forest, to buy her a ticket from the bus station, which she then used to leave town.
Erin was similarly deceptive by buying a bus ticket to Atlanta, one of Greyhounds hubs. However, instead of taking the bus the full way to Atlanta, she instead got off at a stop along the way. Had she gone to Atlanta, she would have had hundreds of different cities to choose from in numerous directions and distances from that hub. This, too, would have been deceptive, but would have been the expected choice to make. By stopping in a town along the way to Atlanta, it provided her with the same freedom and she was able to essentially disappear from Kevin.
Tipping Point and Opportunity
There tended to be one significant turning point that caused the abused to leave. To be able to leave largely relied more on how willing the abused was on changing their life completely rather than the obstacles such as unhelpful law enforcement or financial dependencies. The turning point which caused Erin to leave was thinking that she accidentally murdered her husband while he was choking her.
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It was when Slim thought Mitch would not stop sleeping around and/or take their daughter, Gracie, away from her that pushed her over the edge.
The opportunity both Laura and Shane found to leave ended up being very similar. There had been a definite tipping point, as the abuse occurring over a long time, so both women were waiting solely for the opportunity. Both were benefited by their deceptive planningswimming lessons for Laura and buying a GPS for Shane. Laura notedwhile the audience was seeing how she did not die, as Martin suspected, but made her escapethat she knew if she took the swimming lessons, there would be a time when he (Martin) would not be watching. Although never mentioned by Shane, it is understood that she, too, was waiting for a time when he was not looking.
Laura may have expected the opportunity to arise for her through swimming, as Martin sought to take her out on a boat yearly, despite her inability to swim. This is similar to Shane who knew her husband enjoyed outdoor activities and hiking. The opportunity, indeed, arose for Laura when they were out boating. When Martin was helping the neighbor/captain adjust the sails, after a particularly sudden storm sprang up on the trio, Laura took her opportunity to fall overboard. Shane used the excuse for forgetting something back at the car, after a particularly winding and twisting hike to their zipline destination, to head back and become lost. In both situationsbeing unaware of the measures their wives took to prepare for these long-awaited moments without the ever-present gaze of their husbandsthe husbands believed, not that their partner was able to escape, but that they must be dead due to their lack of physical ability to survive these outdoor situations.
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Karen was in a unique situation in that she had been in a relationship which had abuse, stalking, and obsessive behavior by her husband and a boyfriend prior to the film. As a result, Karen is not only aware of some of the warning signs, but it also has made her listen to her gut. This previous experience helped her initially choose to remove herself from Denis smothering behavior.
Tracey, too, left because of her gut and being a fairly strong individual. After Buck hit her, upon finding out she was pregnant, Tracey almost immediately went back home to Connecticut where she had family and friends, removing herself from the situation. She left again, after she initially followed Buck back to Florida, where he abused and raped her in front of their son. It was through the second time when Tracey reached her tipping point, and was more set in making the separation permanent.
In a similar vein as Karen, Stacey uses other experiences to remove herself from their relationships. This experience came in the form of her mother leaving her somewhat controlling and verbally abusive boyfriend. This change in her mothers relationship status came from advice that she had received from Stacy saying that her mothers boyfriend did not treat her mother right. This role modeling caused Stacy to look at her own situation and see that Bobby did not treat her right, either. Had her mother not left her abusive boyfriend, it is likely that Stacy would not have left Bobby.
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Factors that Hinder Leaving
Abuse
Drugging. In two of the nine films, the abuser used drugs on the abused. In Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? Billy drugs Laurels food and drinks on multiple occasions. One instance is when he took her to a cabin for a vacation, and another is when she is almost finished packing her stuff to leave him. He gives her a drug laced drink as an olive branch to be just friends. Thinking it is simply a drink she accepted it. When she is drugged during this occasion he moves her to her family cabin, which is very isolated, as an attempt to make sure she would not leave him.
Karen also is drugged by Denis. Yet, instead of using the drug to keep her from leaving him, he uses the chloroformwhich he has access to as a butterfly collectoras a tool to make sure she will still need him. He knew how much to give her to make her just sick and disoriented enough, that his support would be something that she would want. This attempt, ultimately, backfired on him, as she did not want him around.
In both of these cases, it shows how drugging can provide another hurdle to jump through if you are trying to leave an abusive situation. Using drugs was something that did not show up in the literature, which brings into question if this is a tool which is often used to keep ones partner from leaving, or a device which the films used to add suspense and drama. It would be interesting to look further into this, if only to fill in parts of the research which are lacking.
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Isolation. While this is an aspect which was found mainly in psychological abuse, this isolation was a definite factor which hindered attempts made by the abused to leave. This was not only isolation from activities with friends or family, which many of the women experienced, this was also the isolation in physical location. Billy moved Laurel from her dorm on campus, to a secluded suburban house, and finally to her even more isolated family cabin. It was only after Laurel was still able to make it to class from the suburban location, after he tampered with her car, that he was resolved to move farther away. Mitch also secluded Slim. After one of their fights over his mistress, he took Slims keys so she, doesnt do anything later that she might regret. Both of these instances tie the abused to their house, and limits their access to travel more than short distances, and also helps limit the number of people that come in contact with their partner to either talk to or help them.
Outside Factors
No matter how hard the abused would plan their escape, there always arose outside factors which they could not fully control or plan for. Buck found out that Tracey was filling for divorce from a family service worker who was working in that department. Shanes possession of a GPS was exposed to Matt after the company called for Shane saying there had been a product recall on the GPS she had purchased.
Martin found out two key details that Laura had never shared with him. The first was when a friend of Lauras who had heard about her death, called to send
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her sympathies to Martin. Upon asking how this woman knew Laura, she said they took swimming classes together, to his complete surprise. The second discrepancy Martin had been shocked to find out was that Chloe, Lauras mother, did not die as Laura had told him she had. Instead, she had been moved to a different facility, a facility which was not known by the former assisted living home.
It was through a phone call that Erin was outed as well. Erin had called the elderly neighbor who helped her, informing her she had found a safe place and was doing well. However, she did not expect Kevin to break into their house. Knowing that the couple was hiding information, Kevin listened to their saved phone messages, where he found the message/call from Erin. This number, tied to Erins call, led him to the diner Erin worked at, which was a good enough starting point for Kevin to find Erin.
Most of these situations have those who are completely unaware of the severity of the abuse or situation letting in the abuser on a key piece of information. This reiterates that no matter how hush-hush a divorce filling might be, or even a friend offering sympathies, any little unexpected thing may result in any and all careful planning on the part of the abused to go out the window. While there is not much literature investigating this aspecthow outside forces can support a womens separation from their partnerit is something that is being shown in many different ways as a primary obstacle of leaving. As such, it could be very easily something which is studied, as if this message is continually being shown and used, there may be something deeper within it.
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Work connection. This tended to be an issue uniquely for those in dating relationships. Karen, Laurel, Stacy, and Casey all were met with a perpetual struggle to leave their abuser through proximity. This struggle for Laurel and Stacy occurred because they went to school with their abuser. Not only were they forced to see their abusers every day, but their abusers knew their class schedules and where and when they should be somewhere if they wanted to confront them. Karen and Casey ran into a similar issueDenis was a consultant at Karens work and Morgan was, initially, Caseys co-worker. This constant and unavoidable contact makes it hard for the abused to separate from the abuser, and to stay professional in either school or work. The more the women tried to avoid the abusers, particularly in these situations, the angrier that the abusers got and the more they tried to get back together with their ex-partner. A clear separation from the abusers is necessary to sustain the abused leaving a relationship and not be under emotional stress from consistently having to face their abuser.
Resources
The lack of resources tended to be the primary reason which hindered women from leaving the abusive relationship. Where there was a range types of resources which could be lacked, financial resources were the most prevalent. In five of the nine films, the breadwinner had been the abuser. Both Shane and Erin only ever were shown as a housewife. Both Tracey and Slim started the movie with jobs, the former as a housekeeper and the latter as a server at a diner. After their marriages, both quit their jobs and assumed the duties of a housewife. Lauras case was unique in that she worked at the library. Yet, although it is assumed that while
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she may have earned minimal income while working there, Martin was the one who supplied everything for her. Dependency on the abuser for finances makes it very difficult to leave. To be able to buy a bus or plane ticket is impossible without cash to do that. It is not as if the abuser is going to supply the abused with money to leave them. Also, by not having a job, the reasons to leave the housealong with the opportunities to fleeare limited as the abused does not always have a reason for being outside of the house.
This lack of willing financial support by the abuser is demonstrated in Enough. Slim is the only one of these women who originally attempted to use credit cards as a form of payment for hotels or transportation. This attempt became short lived, as immediately after her departure, Mitch not only canceled her credit cards, but froze the bank account she had access to. Strong ties with her ex-coworkers allowed her not to have to return to Mitch. Theyher ex-coworkersin various combinations, helped Slim and Grade by buying plane tickets, renting hotel rooms, as well as supplying connections to their (her ex-coworkers) extended families who lived out of state. Had she not had such generous friends, however, she would likely have had to return to Mitch.
Advocacy resources for abused women was another resource which was lacking in these films. This could include shelters, information regarding how to leave a relationship given to the abused in the films, aftercare, or individuals helping them through the aftermath of the abuse. While No One Would Tell and Shadow of Fear end with on screen messages for the viewer for abuse and stalking resources, only A Cry for Help had the abused seeking help from a public defender to end her
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marriage. The film depicts the single public defender being extremely overworked.
He told the room of about 10 to 20 women that he did not have time to handle all of their cases personally. Due to this lack of time, he would teach classes to help the women begin the divorce process themselves. The group setting did also show the audience that what was happening was not an isolated occurrence.
While this film shows that sometimes resources can be scarce and not always available for people to use, sometimes individuals need to do some steps by themselves to initiate the process. However, the fact that other filmsespecially those dealing with spousal abuse compared to dating abusenever really developed or explored the idea of women using shelters or other advocacy resources, is unfortunate. The only, incredibly brief, instance of someone considering those resources was Slim. However, when here friend mentioned going to a shelter, Slim noted that she did not want Gracie to be tainted. Not only does this fail to develop the other resources available to victims of abuse, but it also stigmatizes very helpful resources as being bad or lowly to seek help from.
Other
Ending and Aftermath
Death of the abused. Out of the nine films, only No One Would Tell resulted in the death of the abused female, Stacy. The film portrays her as being naive from her breakup with Bobby. Although she did not see the possibility of them being together, she still believed that they could remain friends, despite how controlling he was and how jealous he had been during their relationship. After she left a friends
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party to see himafter they had already broken uphe continues to display signs of jealousy and need of control within her life in front of his friends who do nothing to intervene. This control and jealousy peaks when Bobby takes her to their spot at the lake and, unable to convince her to get back together, slits her throat. Upon doing this he noted that they had promised to be together forever, and would not have her go on living without him.
It is worth mentioning that this is the only film which uses the ending dialogue to present a message to the viewer. In this message, it is noted that it is theirthe onlooker or bystanders of the abuseresponsibility to report it. This is important as it may not be easy for the victim of abuse to fully realize what type of situation they are in or have the ability to speak out. This message from the judge, ultimately, places blame for the death of Stacy not only on Bobby, but also on the friends and teachers who witnessed it and said or did nothing to help or intervene. It becomes a very powerful message not just to the characters within the film, but transcends to become a powerful message directed toward the audience.
Death of the abuser. The married women represented the majority of this category. Over half of the films depicted a situation where the abused killed their abuseror, in one instance within Mother, May I Sleep with Danger where Laurel believed she killed her abuser.
The murder in Enough was initially intended as premediated self-defense by Slim, under the justification that she had the animal right to protect [her] life and the life of [her] offspring. Ultimately, it truly ended up being self-defense when she could
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not kill Mitch the way she planned because she was not a killer, and an angry Mitch attempted to kill her. As for Sleeping with the Enemy, Past Obsessions, and Safe Haven, all of the women did kill their abused solely for self-defense. While Laura did call the police prior to shooting Martin saying she had shot an intruder, Slim is the only one of these women we see interacting with the police, albeit briefly, in the aftermath of his death.
Of the women who had represented this category, it was only Traceythe film based on a true storywho did not kill her husband to end the abuse. This is interesting to note that it was only within this film, which was based on a true story, where the only instance of not needing to murder the husband appears. This, compared to what the other films depict, tends to be more in line with the literature. The literature tends to note that women who murder their abusive husbands are more likely to go to jail longer than abusers who kill their partner (Purple Berets).
Jailing of the abuser. This option was represented mostly by those who had been in dating relationships, with the exception being Buck from A Cry for Help. When Morgan finally made a legitimate threathe point-blank threatened to kill Caseyhe was taken into custody. For Denis, upon being thrown from the car in a botched kidnapping attempt of Karen, with the ultimate goal of murdering her, he was arrested on numerous charges. Upon finding out that he had murdered Stacy, Bobby was arrested, held accountable in court and sentenced to life in prison. Similarly, after Buck nearly killed Tracey, and after the police managed to get a handle on the situation, he too was arrested. Of these, only No One Would Tell and
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A Cry for Help put any time into showing any type of court proceedings instead of just talking about what would or did happen in passing.
Other than being one of the two films which showed a court ruling on the abuser, A Cry for Help presented an even more unique situation. While it did show Bucks sentencing, as had No One Would Tell with Bobbys, this was just a very small focus. Instead, the primary focus was more on Traceys lawsuit filed against the county police department and the process that it took for her to be heard. This could be because it was such a landmark case and resulted in many changes in how victims of abuse are to be treated and supported by law enforcement, based upon how truly neglectful they had been in regard to Traceys plight with her husband.
Family and Friends
The support, or lack of support, from friends was important in the success or failure of being able to leave the relationship. The support of friends is very important in leaving the relationship. It also is very key in the assessment the abused might make of their own relationship.
While Stacy is in the relationship with Bobby, there is a change in the opinion of Bobby in her friends eyes. Before Stacy even knew Bobby, her friends meddled to get them together since Stacy would not approach him. However, as Stacy began to spend more time with Bobby, their friends voiced that they felt she was abandoning them. When the abuse initially began, some of her friends and schoolmates blamed Stacy for pushing [Bobbys] buttons and the opinions of her friends came across as catty or jealous. After Stacy broke up with Bobby, she was
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going through the process of how to deal with the aftermath of the relationship. As a result, her best friend noted that if she is just going to keep talking about Bobby instead of moving on quicker after her break-upshe should just leave the party. While her friends had initially been supportive and there for her, when she began to defend Bobby or simply talk about her boyfriend, it grated on her friends and they withdrew their support. It was the event, at the moment of least friend support, which ultimately led to Stacys murder.
Casey, Karen, Slim, and Tracey all have a very strong informal support system, consisting mainly of their friends. Slims friends continually supported both she and Gracie financially. Ginny, Slims best friend, takes Gracie with her kids on a vacation so Slim can do what she needs to with Mitch. Caseys friends try to not only get her out of the house, but fight for her rights when the law enforcement does not particularly want to deal with her stalking. When Karen is being drugged by Denis, her co-worker, Alex, is more than willing to try and help her figure out what is going on. Traceys friends take her, and later on her and CJ, in after Buck abuses her. They also let her stay with them, no matter how severe Bucks threats and behavior becomes.
Despite their strong support system with their friends, we do see Mitchs mother, Karens sister and brother-in-law, and Traceys sister as individuals who provide much less support for Slim, Karen, and Tracey, respectfully. Mitchs mother, upon seeing Slims black eye, asks Slim, what did you do, implying that while it might have been from Mitch, it was Slims fault. Karens sister believes that she often, especially after her poor past relationships, constantly tries to sabotage any
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relationship she is in. Traceys sister makes backhanded comments when Tracey comes to seek help. Not only does she place the blame on Tracey for finding herself in an abusive situation, when she does not receive a pleasing answer as to what a pregnant Tracey plans to do for work and housing in light of Bucks abuse, simply notes Well, you should have thought of that [before you got pregnant]. There is no offer, as her sister, to provide support or additional options as to what she could do; it is entirely blame filled.
It is worth noting that financial independence and/or support, particularly support from friends and family, was a definite factor that made it possible for the abused to remove themselves from the relationship.
Parents. A nearly universal commonality among the films was the lack of both parentswhich was the case with Casey, Karen, Erin, Shane, and Traceyor the abused women growing up without just a father figureseen with Slim, Stacy, and Laurel. While the lack of these parental figures is noted within the films, there is not particularly extensive research conducted on if women without parents, or a father figure, are more likely to be in abusive situations. For those who lacked simply a father figure, they may long for the positive male attention and be more prone to stay under this notion of the male providing protection to them.
In Lauras case, her father is not mentioned, but she does have a close relationship with her mother, Chole. However, despite this closeness to Chole, Chole is unable to provide any help. This is because Chole suffered from a stroke, resulting in blindness, and lives in an assisted living home in Iowa. Not only is there a great
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physical distance between the two at the start of the film, there are physical limitations as to how much support Chloe can realistically provide. If this is her only family, Laura is not in the position to rely on, or ask for, help from her mother. This limits Laura even more on who she can go to if she were to leave. It also limits the ability for family to provide resources, both financial and/or housing, when they are unable to even provide for themselves.
While at the beginning of the movie Slim and her father, Jupiter, were estranged, he does provide financial support for Slim. Jupiter did not believe that Slim was his daughter and gives her $12 thinking she is just a homeless individual asking for money. Jupiter only believes Slim after Mitchs cronies who worked with or, perhaps, faked working withthe FBI showed up and said they would kill Jupiter if he tried to help Slim. With this piqued interested, he sent not only a large sum of money, but also the promise to send more later if she needed it. It was Jupiter who helped Slim trick the men following her, by hiring a woman that looked similar to Slim to switch places with her. This allowed Mitch to believe that she was in San Francisco for his staged custody hearing, although Slim was actually already inside his house. Both of these instances of support helped Slim greatly, and turned the tides in her favor. Had she not had this parental support, especially with Mitch monitoring her friends, she would have likely had no choice but to return to him.
In ideal situations, parents should have a deep relationship with their child. In these instances, it can be sometimes harder for abusers to isolate the abused from their parents than it would be to separate them from their friends. However, if there are strained relationships between child and parents, or the parents are no longer
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alive/not physically able to help, this isolation could be much easier for the abuser to obtain. The lack of parental figures could also result in limited financial or emotional support and increased difficulty for the abused to leave the relationship.
Police and the Law
Legal support. Only two of the films, A Cry for Help and Shadow of Fear, showed the abused working, on a fairly consistent basis, with legal aid. This legal aid could either be law enforcement or lawyers. In Shadow of Fear, after dealing with an influx of abuse, Casey goes to the police department. When the police captain did not fully believe that the attention was unwanted, she was passed off to a detective. This detective, while attempting to find out more about Morgan, kept having doors slammed in his face. These roadblocks gave the detective even more drive and determination to figure out not what those doors were hiding, but also to find a way to stop Morgan. This constant support and help from the detective, not only gave Casey hope that there was an end in sight, but it also gave her validation of the wrongness of the experience. This validation for her stalking is one of the few instances, among any of the films, where the abused has their abuse acknowledged as wrong.
In A Cry for Help, the support she received was mixed, although we will currently focus on the support she received. Tracey could get restraining orders with the help of the lawyer. After she suffered her horrendous attack, it was a lawyer who approached her and told her that she had been failed by the legal systemthe police department. As a result, her case became a landmark legal case which
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influenced many of the rules surrounding arresting abusers, particularly in marital situation. Although the vast majority of the film showed the incompetence of the police department, the lawyer approaching heras it had for Caseyvalidated the experience as something which should not have happened.
The legal support in both instances gives the audience a view that there are measures and people in place to be able to help victims. While not all instances may be dealt with easily, there are individuals in place to provide a check and balance.
Police protection and legal hurdles. Despite the fact that both A Cry for Help and Shadow of Fear showed some highlights how the legal system has developedas implied at the end of A Cry for Helpand at its best should be helping victims of abuse, these films, along with most of the others, show truly how the system has failed many of the women.
Six of the nine films showed the abused either being married to a cop (Safe Haven) or the police doing little to help her when advice or support was sought from them {A Cry for Help, Enough, Intimate Stranger, Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?, and Shadow of Fear). Especially in the latter case, it showed how lack a trust from both sidesthe abused and the law enforcementwas extremely strained. For Slim, when she sought help from the police, they told her that because she had a child it was a matter for family courts. They also said that while she could get a protective order which would only protect her, not Gracie. They also noted that if Mitch would go to jail and make bondwhich would be easy for himshe would just need to call them, but would still have to deal with a very angry Mitch until they got
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there. As a result, she did not report her abuse which was noted toward the end of the film, as working against her. Since she did not receive helpful information, initially, her entire experience was skewed and she had very little trust in the efficiency of the police had she reported the abuse.
In Erins case, with her husband being a cop, she believed that he had associations with all cops and was the police. Initially unbeknownst to Erin, once she left, her husband put out an APB for her being a murderer, even though she was not one. Once she found out about the APB, her trust in the law enforcement to be able to provide support, diminished even more. Even after she had begun to settle into her new routine in town, when a cop approached her or she saw a police officer she became jumpy or all but fled.
Tracey is, perhaps, the one who was most failed by law enforcement. From the beginning when she was seeking help she ran into roadblocks. Some of the roadblocks included: the police informing Buck about what protective orders Tracey was attempting to obtain; the police telling Traceyafter Buck kidnapped their son, CJthe only way she would get CJ back would be if she went to an enraged Buck, being held in a holding cell, and not only talk him down but get back together with him; not arresting Buck although he is barred from the state of Connecticut, although they frequent the diner at which Buck worked; and the police seeing her issue as a lower priority than other crimes. This indifference reaches a peak when an angry buck comes to the house. It took over 15 minutes for the police to show up after Tracey called for Buck breaking his restraining order. When the solitary policeman arrived, he pulls into the driveway to find Tracey had been stabbed. Upon getting out
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of the car, instead of detaining Buck, he takes the knife, tries to detain the wrong man, watches Buck kick Tracey, and it is only after the other officers and ambulance arrive, that he restrains and arrests Buck. Admittedly, A Cry for Help was based on a true story and resulted in many changes because of how poorly the police behaved. That being said, the presentation of how the police failed her is very striking.
Karen is consistently told that the police are just following protocol, but whenever Karen askes for addition supportnoting that cases like this generally do not end well for the victimthey note that there is really nothing more that they can do. It is not until after Denis kidnaps herwith the intention to kill herthat they finally believe her story and put him behind bars.
In Shadow of Fear, despite Caseys complaints that she is bombarded by emails and that he is providing her undue stress, when Casey pushes Morgan for unexpectedly showing up behind her and following her, she is the one charged for assault. This depicts a lag between departments. That is, while there are departments which are geared toward stalking, the rules and regulations of the primary legal system are not as neatly defined as they could be. This causes the police to act quicker for physical victimization which could protect abusers compared emotional or mental victimization of the abused.
While these are films, and films generally thrive on the creation of drama, establishing drama from a source which is in place to protect the victims of abuse is very problematic. It gives the viewer the idea that the police will either not sufficiently be able to help them, or perhaps not even believe the victim that abuse is occurring.
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This could very easily result in both the abused and friends of the abused not seeking help from this source. As a result, it could cause a domino effect where the abused may seek to take matters into their own hands. It also could give an abuser ungrounded leverage to psychologically manipulate the victim. That is, the abuser could say that no one would believe the victim, but here is some proof that they do not even believe victims within film.
Relationship between Abused and Abuser
When it comes to the relationship between the abused and abuser, there was a split among the women. Five of the womenErin, Laura, Shane, Slim, and Traceywere married to their partner. It is also noteworthy to mention that although Tracey was in the processes of a divorce, none of the other women either divorce or attempt to divorce their spouse prior to attempting to end and/or fleeing the relationship. Three womenKaren, Laurel, and Stacywere in a dating relationship with their partner. Only one individual, Casey, had not been in a definite relationship with her attacker and was simply a co-worker. This had been a slightly different case where her abuser, her abusers father, and initially the police were under the impression that they were in a relationship, although they were never more than workplace acquaintances.
It is interesting to note how there were many differences presented between these two types of films. While not universally, overall, those who were in a dating relationship were less likely to murder their abusive partner in comparison to those who were married. This coincides with the males in dating relationships having a
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much higher rate of being jailed. Tied with both points is how women who were only dating the abusive partner often sought help from the police. Again, while it was not universal, this had been a very common separation between those married to, and those simply dating, their abuser.
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CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION
The goal of this paper is to look at abuse through the lens of media to examine what claims they are portraying about IPV and how it is either supported or not supported by the literature. By examining this, it could allow both the media to better represent victims of abuse, and those within abusive relationships could see feasible choices and outcomes represented within media. While this research may not be able to speak to all films surrounding IPV, it might at least be able to create a starting point for future research or developing a starting point within the discourse of the topic. This research also would be able to give agencies that provide resources a better understanding of potential expectations the abused may have.
Much of the literature surrounding the abusers was very in line with what had been depicted within the films. This included aspects such as the cycle of abuse, the presence of jealousy, and the use of children against the abused. However, there is very limited research which examines the abuser. As a result, there may even be more parallels between real-life depictions of abuse and film depictions of abuse that may not be noticed because it simply has not been studied. For example, perceived image of the abuserhow they look, how their house looks, how they act in the presence of otherswas common within nearly half of the films. This commonality may be indicative of some understudied pattern; there may be an overlap between the film versions of abusers and real-life abuse, but more research needs to be conducted.
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The literature reports that of 235 women who were in interviewed in prison, 44% were there for murdering their spouses or significant other. Of that 44% of women, 96% reported the presence of abuse within that relationship. On average, 2,000 women are in prison for killing their abusive spouse, but that number does not fully compare to the 1,000 to 4,000 women who are killed by their partners each year (Purple Berets). With the odds of the womanwho typically is also the abused being murdered at eight times more likely than the manwho typically is the abuserit would be expected that more of the films would show the death of the abused.
It is also important to note the nature of the film industry. Within the film industry, there tends to be a primary focus on certain segments of the population. This segment of the population tends to consist of mostly white individuals. While there is an ever-growing demand for films to depict people of color instead of relying on all white casts, it is slow in coming. Films also tend to depict strugglessuch as, financial barriers, ease to change ones name, or even how easy it is to find a supportive person after abuseas coming very easily. In reality, the depicted ease of obtaining financial support/independence, or finding a good partner in the shadow of abuse not supported by the literature. Films, often, are used as an escape from reality and may not want to show the darker side of abuse. Yet, by not depicting people of color, larger age rangesshowing individuals in their late 60s being abused, for exampleand depicting the ease of leaving are not helping the perceptions surrounding abused individuals. If anything, the failure to deal with the subject stigmatizes the abused individuals even more. Changes cannot happen
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within the film industry overnight, however there are many changes which need to
occur.
Limitations and Future Research
Sample and coding. A limitation of this study was that it did not consider differences in standards among different types of films. Although looking at different types of filmsthose made for Hollywood compared to those made-for-TV films the differences in standards between these types of films may have affected the frames constructed. Generally, TV films have more freedom to include messages which are explicit, whereas Hollywood films tend to rely on implying messages. These differences could, in part, be because of budget as those geared toward a movie going audience will be better funded than those geared for TV audiences. Also, the budgetand subsequently the studiomight be more apt to adopt a formula containing a love story or a dramatic climax, versus telling a true story, to get the highest return for their investment. It would be worthwhile in future studies to examine these differences within the film industry and the effect on messages.
While there initially had been the goal to try to gather a diverse sample of films, it was not possible due to primarily the price of alternate films or availability beyond TVthat is, not all films surrounding this topic which were shown on TV were available on DVD or YouTube to include. Also, some films which were made-for-TV surrounding IPV were not airing during the study to be taped, and, subsequently, included. It would be interesting to include a more diverse range of films to investigate if they tended to follow what the literature indicates around abuse
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or what the films depicted as guidelines. Also, comparing a larger sample of films which were racially diverse might help develop a different picture which could allow us to examine if different narratives are being told to different racial groups surrounding the topic.
As there had only been one researcher coding the films for content, the interrater reliability (Niveau, Lacasa, Beclaz, and Germond 2015)which examines the agreement among researchers who are coding the same materialcannot be determined. Attempts were madeparticularly watching each film multiple times to find all instances of the codeshowever, having only one coder is still a limitation. While this is a limitation within this study, it also offers an opportunity for future research where multiple coders could be used.
Abused and lovers. These films all focused on and followed the woman as the abused. It seems often that the abusers perspective is ignored and overlooked. This is mirrored very much within the literature. In the future, it would be worthwhile to investigate the abuser to see why they abuse. While this research did not uncover any such films, it would be interesting to see if, in the future, a film develops where it primarily follows the abuser instead of the abused.
As with the abusers, this presented idea of having lovers so quickly after leaving an abusive situation is not something which was examined within the literature. This could be because it is not common within real-life situationswhich is likely because women who are abused often either return to their abuser or find another man who ends up being abusive toward them. However, in the same vein, it
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may be occurring within real-life situations and the women just are not approached to discuss their very positive experience. It would be an interesting aspect to examine further, nevertheless.
Mental illness. While mental issues appeared only within one film, it is somewhat interesting to note. This is not a substantial amount of literature which has examined mental illnesses within abusers of IPV. While Shadow of Fear had been the only film where the intensity of the relationship between abuser and abused had be perceived by the abuser, Morgans mental illness brought an interesting dynamic. Toward the later parts of the film, the audience learns that Morgan should be taking medication to counter his paranoid schizophrenia. His father, when approaching Casey at the end, not only attempted to paint Morgan as the victim due to his illness, but that Casey may have initially led him on which caused his illness to influence his behavior.
This aspect of mental illness provides an interesting variable. If the abuser is suffering from an illness, can he be held accountable for their actions? It is something that is seen a lot within mass shootings, where the perpetrator pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. While in the film, Casey stood her ground and noted that her life was greatly affected by Morgans behaviorwhich Morgans father noted simply as her receiving attention which any woman wants.
Nevertheless, while there is not a significant amount of research looking at the mental stability of the abuser, it would be interesting to investigate further, to see how courts or the abused may justify the abusers abusive behavior.
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Full Text

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THE DEPICTIONS OF INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE IN FILM by RACHEL E. HEIN B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2014 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Sociology Program 2017

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ii 2017 RACHEL E. HEIN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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iii This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Rachel E. Hein has been approved for the Sociology Program by Candan Duran Aydintug, Chair Maren Scull Leigh Ingram Date: May 13, 2017

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iv Hein, Rachel E. (M.A., Sociology Program) The Depictions of Intimate Partner Violence in Film Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran Aydintug ABSTRACT Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a very serious problem within society and can often be something w hich is overlooked or oversimplified by individuals. IPV can especially run into misconceptions when it comes to its representation by media. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between IPV and how it is characterized and presented in the media. A content analysis was used to examine nine films, ranging from 1989 to 2015, which dealt with the issue of IPV between married and unmarried couples. The study found inconsistencies between the way media represents IPV and what the literatur e and previous studies have documented about it. While these results have implications for how images of IPV can be altered to be represented in all media, special attention is giving to its representation by visual media. The form and content of t his abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Candan Duran Aydintug

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v DEDICATION store. I, quite simply, would be lost without you. Also, to the two most for the many puppy kisses and cuddles you gave (see: distracted) me with while I tried to work on both homework and t his thesis However, since you two are so dang cute, I

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vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am thankful to many people who have supported me along my academic journey. First, I would like to thank Candan Duran Aydintug. Since you approached me in undergrad, you have been a cheerleader an insightful teacher, and a friend. To Maren Scu ll, I treasured your constant cheer and your insightful feedback. Your questions, criticisms, and support were always appreciated. As for Leigh Ingram, I am thankful for your critiques and support I would also like to thank Sonja Foss for her constant support, many writing guides/tools, unending ki ndness, and willingness to listen and to help. While it may not seem like mu ch, it means more than you know I want to th ank my mom for her overwhelming support and reassurances t know if I would have complete d this Also thanks to my Sissie Although we were in different programs, it was our le ngthy phone calls that grounded and reassured me, know ing someone else was going through similar struggles and a similar process. Finally alt hough I am likely overlooking many individuals who should be mentioned for their help and support I want to thank Donna Singer Jackie Silbermann Pricilla Acosta, Rachel Toth, Shara Schroeder, Sherri Davenport, and Tina Hartt I cannot even begin to thank you for your unique insights around my topic the program, and life in general continual support, thoughtful words, and friendship. You are amazing women and I am grateful to have you all in my life

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vii TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ .................. 1 II. LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ....... 4 Types of Abuse ................................ ................................ .................... 4 Physical Abuse ................................ ................................ ......... 5 Sexual Abuse ................................ ................................ ............ 5 Psychological Abuse ................................ ................................ 7 Verbal Abuse ................................ ................................ ............ 8 Stalking ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 Economic Abuse ................................ ................................ ..... 10 Factors that Affect Staying and Leaving Abusive Situation .............. 1 1 Economic Abuse ................................ ................................ ..... 11 Denial and Excuses ................................ ................................ 1 3 Theory ................................ ................................ ................................ 1 4 Traits of Abusers ................................ ................................ ................ 16 The Framing of Abuse and Violence by the Media ............................. 17 III. METHODS ................................ ................................ ........................ 21 Content Analyses ................................ ................................ ............... 21 Sample and Sampling ................................ ................................ ........ 22 Data ................................ ................................ ........................ 22 Coding ................................ ................................ .................... 33 IV. F INDINGS ................................ ................................ ......................... 35

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viii Portrayal of Individuals: The Abused ................................ .................. 35 Characteristics ................................ ................................ ........ 35 Age ................................ ................................ ................ 35 Changes in appearance and name ............................... 35 Children ................................ ................................ ......... 37 Personality ................................ ................................ .... 38 Types of Abuse ................................ ................................ ........ 40 Economic abuse ................................ ........................... 40 Physical abuse ................................ .............................. 42 Psychological abuse ................................ ..................... 42 Stalking ................................ ................................ ......... 43 Sexual abuse ................................ ................................ 45 Portrayal of Individuals: The Abuser ................................ .................. 46 Characteristics ................................ ................................ ........ 46 Control and athleticism ................................ .................. 46 Jealousy ................................ ................................ ........ 49 History of Violence ................................ ................................ ... 49 All or nothing ................................ ................................ 49 The blame game ................................ ........................... 51 Cycle of abuse ................................ .............................. 52 Jobs and Image ................................ ................................ ...... 53 Portrayal of the Individuals: The Lover ................................ ............... 55 Characteristics ................................ ................................ ........ 55

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ix Jobs ................................ ................................ ........................ 56 Factors that Facilitate Leaving ................................ ............................ 57 Deception ................................ ................................ ................ 57 Tipping Point and Opportunity ................................ ................ 58 Factors that Hinder Leaving ................................ .............................. 61 Abuse ................................ ................................ ..................... 61 Drugging ................................ ................................ ....... 61 Isolation ................................ ................................ ......... 62 Outside Factors ................................ ................................ ...... 62 Work connection ................................ ........................... 64 Resources ................................ ................................ ............... 64 Other ................................ ................................ ................................ 66 Ending and Aftermath ................................ ............................. 66 Death of the abused ................................ ...................... 66 Death of the abuser ................................ ....................... 67 Jailing of the abuser ................................ ...................... 68 Family and Friends ................................ ................................ 69 Parents ................................ ................................ .......... 71 Police and the Law ................................ ................................ 73 Legal support ................................ ................................ 73 Police protection and legal hurdles ............................... 74 Relationship between Abused and Abuser ............................. 77 V. DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ..................... 79

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x Limitations and Future Research ................................ ........................ 8 1 Sample and coding ................................ ................................ .. 81 Abused and lovers ................................ ................................ ... 82 Mental illness ................................ ................................ ........... 83 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 8 4

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION When a couple who were in a relationship break up, the process follows a straightforward pattern. They may have to deal with the separation from lovers to friends, or have to figure out how to be single again. Typically, though, the process is routine. Yet, to leave an abusive relationship is, at best, difficult. Typically, this form of separa tion tends to be one sided, with the individual who was abused who also typically suffers from economic, psychological, and/or physical abuse while within the relationship is the one wanting to leave the relationship and the abuser wanting the relationship to continue. As a result, there is a violent struggle for control: the abused struggling to gain the ability to leave, and the abuser struggling to keep control over the abused at any cost. At its worst, this struggle can end with the death of either the abused or the abuser, with numerous legal repercussions. The various abuse suffered during the relationship can provide difficult barriers to initially move beyond, yet, it only gets harder from there as death of the abused does not always bring proper jus tice for the survivor. today is the media. The media has become a common source for demonstrating to people how to act and behave. Some people memorize entire movies; pattern their ide ntities after television or movie characters, through mannerisms or simple cosplay; and try to put themselves in similar situations as their favorite characters to attempt to venture down a similar path. These acts could range from the way the character sp

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2 life into their own, be they good acts, such as volunteering or being helpful within society, or bad, such as acts of violence. The media has intertwined itself with the lives of the viewe rs, thus putting 1973). The messages that the media provides to the viewers about intimate partner violence could be crucial in guiding the actions both abused and abuse rs take when confronted with a similar situation involving abuse. Not only are the potential abused and abuser affected, but it could go so far as guiding the actions of an observer of abuse. Even with the media being in this unique position of providin g these guides, as well as the ever increasing number of TV shows and films which deal with intimate partner violence there is very minimal research that looks at both intimate partner abuse and its portrayal in film. The studies that come close look only at abuse and film, although their focus tends to be much more on pornographic films and the sexualization of abuse. As sexual violence is not the only type of abuse presented in film, nor are pornographic films entirely relatable to society, the findings from these films may not represent or apply to films regarding intimate partner violence Therefore, this research attempts to fill in this gap. It intends to discover the frames that the media puts around the issue of intimate partner violence in order to discover what kind of guidelines they might be offering to viewers who find themselves involved in an abusive situation. It will also compare the films to actual

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3 research on intimate partner violence, to investigate if the factors which were p resented, either as facilitating or hindering an escape from an abusive relationship, are supported in actual situations of intimate partner violence (IPV)

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4 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Types of Abuse IPV which is also referred to as domestic violence or partner violence, tends to be characterized by an individual who through acts of violence, power, and forms of coercion intend to control the behavior of another individual (Powell & Smith 2011; Understand ing Intimate Partner Violence 2014). The dynamic between the individuals could range from being current or former spouses, non marital partners, or current or former boyfriend/girlfriend who have been in a relationship longer than one week (Faramarzi et al 2005; Thompson et al. 2006; Modi, Palmer, & Armstrong, 2014). This can be done in a variety of ways as there are many different types of abuse that play a part of the overarching idea of domestic abuse. There are three primary forms of abuse that tend to be studied the most. These forms of abuse include physical, psychological, and economic abuse. Physical abuse tends to be examined the most within studies, followed closely by psychological abuse and trailing with economic abuse. While these are the prima ry three forms, there are several subsets that fall within or are peripheral categories to these three abuse categories, such as staking, sexual, and verbal abuse. While there can, and typically tends to be overlap between them, there are very distinct sep arations of what each form entails.

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5 Physical Abuse Physical abuse, which also includes terms such as physical assault and physical violence, is the intentional act of causing injury or trauma to another person with bodily contact. The physical repercus sions of the abused from the physical abuser tends to make physical abuse the easiest form of abuse to spot. Some of the common characteristics associated with physical abuse are: choking, punching, hair pulling, breaking and/or twisting arms, shoving, or throwing objects across the room particularly toward another individual (Loue 2001; Berns 2004; Powell & Smith 2011; Stader 2011). Vagi, Rothman and Latzman also include the hitting, kicking and intentional scratching to this mix of characteristics. Genera lly, physical abuse tends to involve only one abuser and one victim, or abused, however there can be cases where there are multiple abusers and/or multiple victims. Sexual Abuse Due to the general physical nature that is associated with it, sexual abuse t ends to share similarities with physical abuse when being researched. This form of when he or she does not or cannot :139 ), attempted rape, attacks o n sexual body parts, or requiring a partner to perform sexual acts (Powell & Smith 2011). This use of force is why sexual abuse can occasionally get partnered with physical abuse. However, there is another aspect of sexual abuse which also separates it sli ghtly from only being connected with physical abuse. Sexual abuse

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6 also includes sexual harassment which can range from inappropriate comments or sending nude photos to someone who does not want them. While physical and psychological harm tend to be very e asily defined and are often examined in research, sexual violence particularly sexual violence within intimate relationships tends to be overlooked. This exclusion is often unintentional. More often it is because the term sexual violence tends to encompass a broad (Bagwell Gray, Messing, & Baldwin White 2015:317). Another issue within th e research is that when an intimate relationship is examined, what outsiders may view as rape or some form of sexual coercion, is not viewed that way by the victims of sexual violence (Bagwell Gray et al. 2015). Despite the uncertainty of what may qualify as sexual violence, and in addition to the general definition of sexual violence, there are certain characteristics which researchers tend to agree are included. These characteristics include: whether the act was completed or attempted; the type of sexual activity ranging from noncontact, sexual harassment or penetration which can occasionally be an umbrella term for rape; attempted rape; forced pregnancy; or any sex act that stems from the lack of consent (Projansky 2001; Modi et al. 2014; Understanding In timate Partner Violence 2014; Bagwell Gray et al. 2015).

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7 Psychological Abuse Often used interchangeably with mental and emotional abuse, psychological abuse is considered by some to be just as, if not more, damaging to an individual as physical abuse (Adams et al. 2008). While it may be just as damaging to an individual as physical abuse, it can be very difficult to detect. Many of the characteristics of psychological abuse include aspects such as harming [a partner s] sense of self worth through controlling behavior, threatening or intimidating their partners, and manipulating or distancing their partner from friends and family (Adams et al. 2008; DeKeserdy & Schwartz 2009; Powell & Smith 2011; Vagi et al. 2013). Whe n used in conjunction with emotional abuse, it also included aspects such as constant criticism, name calling, and an all around attempt to break the spirit of the victim to cause them to feel as though they do not deserve better treatment (Powell & Smith 2011). A newer term which has been developed is the idea of coercive control. Coercive control moves beyond simply citing physical violence as the only tool abusers use to gain control. Instead, it notes that the primary goal of the abuser is to strip awa worth. This stripping away is done with many of the same tactics found within psychological abuse such as: monitoring and One final aspect which is i ncluded with psychological abuse is the use of children. This would be when t he abuser may also resort to having children mimic their critical behavior toward the victim to reinforce the worthless mentality.

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8 Verbal Abuse Verbal abuse, while it can stand alone, tends to often be partnered with psychological abuse, as it can be used as a tool for psychological abuse to be dealt toward individuals. In these instances, they see verbal abuse only as a mechanism worth. However, i t is more a complex topic than that. Aspects such as name calling, yelling or screaming at the partner, taunting, threatening, mind games through words compared to actions -and bullying are common behaviors which help abusers inflict and perpetuate psychol ogical abuse for the abused (Follingstad & DeHart, 2000). Stalkin g While it could easily be grouped within psychological abuse, stalking has come to stand on its own within recent years. The first definition of stalking was proposed by California legisla tive in 1990, and created a basic guide for other states along with helping the foundation for the federal Model Penal Code (Palarea, Zona, Lane, Langhinrichsen Rohling 1999). Stalking is commonly defined as malicious or repeated following or harassment by the perpetrator toward an individual, which includes some sort of credible threat that ultimately creates a high level of fear within the victim. In its basic form, these high levels of fear can be achieved through actives such as: physically following th e victim on errands, consistently calling their place of residence or work, going to work with the abused to monitor their interactions where the employer occasionally expects the abused to control the stalkers behavior or simply using video cameras to mon itor and control the

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9 activities of the abuse particularly from cameras within their house (Tjaden & Thoennes 1998; Buel 1999). However, in recent years, due to the increase in the accessibility of, and advancements in, technology, there has been a develo pment of a niche category of cyberstalking. This newer, and progressively easier, form of stalking can include the abuser bombarding the victim with unwanted or virus laden email messages, emails containing insults or threats, using tracking programs to mo nitor web searches and/or email communication, using GPS linked tracking devices generally linked through ones phone, but most recently can include cars to track the victims location, and/or by collecting information about the victim through social media o r other online databases with the purpose to use the found information for harassing material (Southworth et al 2007). A 1998 study conducted by Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes, found that of the 16,000 individuals surveyed, which consisted of 8,000 f emales and 8,000 males, 59 percent of women and 30 percent of men had been stalked by an intimate partner while they were in a relationship with that individual. They found that while males had been stalked, most 78 percent of the stalking victims were fem ale, with mos t 87 percent of the stalking perpetrators being male. With an average stalking case lasting 1.8 years (Tjaden & Thoennes 1998), there tends to be significant carry over into the lives of the victims. Tjaden and Thoennes also found that nearly a fifth of stalking victims end up moving to distance and remove themselves from the stalking situation, with a combined 50 percent of victims 20

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10 percent for males and 30 percent for females seeking some sort of psychological counseling to deal with the af termath of their victimization. Russell E. Palarea, Michael A. Zona, John C. Lane, and Jennifer Langhinrichsen Rohling examined cases of stalking which had been managed by the Los Angeles Police Department Threat Management Unit. These cases took place b etween 1990 and 1996 and consisted of 223 victim suspect pairs. Of these 223 cases, 135 cases had relationships that were intimate in nature such as married, engaged, cohabiting, dating, and casual sexual relationships and 88 relationships were non intimat e in nature such as those relationships with co workers, school mates, neighbors, or a professional business relationship. They confirmed that while it had been a common stereotype at the time, that celebrities were not the only victims of stalking. Instea d, those individuals who had some sort of intimate relationship between the suspect and victim were at a higher risk to experience stalking, as well as experiencing a higher frequency, and follow through, of threats of violence than those in non intimate r elationships. This was due to the fact that those in an intimate relationship tend to have more contact between one another, as well as an ease of information that is the suspect is more likely to know where the victim is and when they should be there (i.e work, school, etc.). Economic Abuse Although it tends to receive the least amount of attention, economic abuse is just as problematic as the previous discussed forms of abuse. This form of abuse typically consists of the abusive partner controlling the

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11 general financial dependency upon the abuser, such as lacking access to household funds, opening a bank account, or obtaining some form of credit (Bu el 1999; Powell & Smith 2011). Other research has indicated that the abused may deal with economic abuse by not being able to obtain or maintain employment due to other concurrent forms of IPV (Sanders 2014). These are some of the most recurring reasons th at the abused return to their abusers. Without the ability to have, or have minimal, financial independence, they cannot support themselves and/or their children upon leaving, or attempting to leave, the relationship. However, many studies seem to overlook economic abuse in favor of a deeper examination of physical and psychological abuse. Factors that Affect Staying and Leaving Abusive Situations There are many factors that hinder an individual from leaving a relationship. There are also several which wo uld push an individual to finally leave the abusive relationship and the abuser Economic Abuse Many women who suffer economic abuse have little to no economic means to leave and abusive relationship (Koss et al. 1994; Downs 1996; Buel 1999; Jewkes 2002) Many of these individuals either have their income, if they have a job, going directly to their partner or everything is paid for by their partner, so they have no access to additional funds or to their own money This lack of any access to funds keeps t he individuals from fleeing, unless they have some support group such as

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12 friends or family who have financial means to support them until they can find their financial footing. It is for the lack of economic stability and support that causes many women to return to their abusive partners. One article noted that of victims who reached out to shelters, hotlines and/or emergency rooms, 75 percent had attempted to leave their abusers at least five times but returned for lack of finances (Buel 1999). This lack o f financial independence or stability not only results in people staying with their abuser, but it also perpetuates the cycle of returning to abusive situations. Another factor which can motivate a woman into leaving an abusive situation although it can a lso be one of the biggest obstacles to leaving is children (Buel 1999). This obstacle generally is experienced by married individuals, although it can also happen within dating and cohabiting relationships. In these situations, the abused woman may leave a s a precaution to ensure that the abuse they are experiencing does not carry over to their children. However, if they suffered from economic abuse, or just had little or no economic means available, but with the need to support the children, this can put e ven more strain onto the victim. This lack of financial stability can ultimately result in either the victim returning to the abuser or having the children taken from her and returned to the abuser as she is not able to financially support them. In some ca ses, the abusive partner may even attempt to use the children as a means of manipulation toward their abused partner (Powell & Smith 2011). This abuse and manipulation may take two primary forms. In the first form the abuser may threaten the victim that i f the victim were to leave, that the abuser would keep the children. In the second, the abuser may use the children to

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13 help perpetuate the abuse. This is, largely, the reason that many shelters do not allow women to bring their teenage sons with them, as t hey are worried that the abuser may come for their partner or jeopardize the other women in the shelter. Denial and Excuses Before the severity of abuse increases to a point at which a victim chooses to leave, victims tend to actively make excuses for v iolent behavior by their partners. These excuses originally stem from denial of the underlying reasons for the abuse by the victim (Buel 1999; Loue 2001). This denial could originate from the fact that ffender responsible for his The victim then tends to internalize the lack of reasons to hold the abuser responsible by indicating they, the victim, are the reason the abuse occurred. If they could change things which may have triggered the abuse, the violence would cease. While it is not always the case, those who make excuses in this way for their partner are victims of a combination of both physical and psychological, although the magnitude of each form may not be equal. Another reason that excuses can affect the staying or leaving with relationships, is that the victims often truly lov e their abusers that is when they are not being abused or believe that their partners truly love them deeply. Many women who fall within this type of excuse making tend to suffer from low self esteem. This causes them to believe they either deserve the abu se to become

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14 somehow better, or that, if they leave, no one will love them to the extent their abuser claims to (Buel 1999). Theory In sociology, domestic violence and its many forms have been examined through several different theoretical approaches. Se veral studies have been examined through the lens of feminist theories and perspectives ( Martinez, 2011; Combard & McMillan, 2013; G ill & Mason Bish, 2013) or by different iterations of exchange theory (Kaukinen, 2004; Lawson, 2012; Logan, Walker & Hoyt, 2012). While there is a broad pool of theory which could be used, in this study, theories from George Herbert Mead and Erving Goffman were primarily used to help examine IPV. In his work The Self Mead fo cused on how individual develops their sense of self. He saw the self as something that while being an internal and individual aspect the self was not something individuals are born with. Instead, it was developed through social experience and activities and would influence, further, how they behaved and/or functioned within society (Mead 1934). It is throu gh the social experience which develops the two key elements of the self, the I and the me These two elements, together, help guide the individual with the me bringing in previous attitudes and experiences it has encountered to help direct the I (Mead 1934). As a result, the more the I engages within societ y the more knowledge and understanding the me can gain about the world and society around them. If an individual is missing the organizati on of the roles and rules associated with the game, individuals will be

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15 unable to properly play the game (Mead 1934). This understanding not only helps the self to be able to form self image by seeing itself (the self) as others do as well as the individua ls forming self awareness. Although Mead may be slightly outdated compared to newer theorist who have developed his ideas his ideas about the self can still be seen within the newer idea of coercive control. When an abuser i s co nstantly changing the rules and expectations yet, judging their partner through their lack of understanding it can cause turmoil in the abused self worth. If the abused were to finally understand what their partner expected, there is nothing stopping the p artner from again changing the rules and expectations. If the abuser is successful, he can ensure that he keeps control over his partner due to his partner having to navigate ever changing information. found within the abused distancing from friends and family. If an individual develops their sense of self through social experience and a ctivities, isolation from social situations can lead to a loss of self in the abused It also could influence how an in dividual organizes their memories (Mead 1934). That is, individuals tend to date things back to their previous experience with a similar situation. If the abuser continually plays mind games or demeans them, the victim s sense of self would begin to tie ba ck to the previous time based on a distorted view response with them.

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16 Goffman focused on a similar aspect, wh ere he believed that there were different acts individuals took part in. These various acts were part of a larger would include everyone present presence -during an interaction (Goffman 1959). The label that Goffman gives to the most central part of the performance is fronts These fronts have been tailored through trial and error to best fit any situation that the self might encounter, based upon their previous experiences (Goffman 1959). These were not uncha nging fronts. Instead, they would develop, and fine tuned, based on more interactions with a given situation and new fronts could simultaneously be created if the experience was new. Two terms were created by Goffman to identify how well an individual mai ntained their front: to give and to give off To give within a presentation of a front consists of fashion, verbal symbols, or other sign equipment with a common understanding, while to give off consists of behavior, body language, and emotion (Goffman 195 9). It is the goal of the individual to present a front which the audience other individuals buy into and would expect to see In terms of IPV, these performa nces would be seen in the behaviors of both the abused and the abuser. Traits of Abusers A common

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17 periods of time. Despite the sometimes drastic nature of the mood swings, abusers can try to justify their actions either through an ensuing argument or by trying to link the outburst to either alcohol or drug use (Buel 1999; Draucker et al. 2012). Another common trait among abusers is the abuser may have witnessed abuse within the family of origin. The abuse within the family of origin can range from child abuse and maltreatment or marital violence (Schechter 1982; Draucker et al. 2012). It is not only abuse within the household tha t influences the child toward similar behavior later in life, but it is also among their peer groups. When abusers were surrounded by other individuals who engage in a range of abusive activities, both physical and non physical, during their adolescence, t he risk is higher that they will also engage in these actions. This is done because they have gotten verification from their peers that this behavior is acceptable and a social norm which can continue to be modeled by the group (Bryant and Zillmann 1986; E llis, Chung Hall, and Dumas 2013). There are others, however, who say that abuse is not solely a copied adults are more likely to commit crimes, particularly violent ones, co mpared to with a universal blanket statement (Sternheimer 2010). The Framing of Abuse and Violence by the Media In a society which is constantly being bombarded with a lar ge array of images and created expectations from the media, it is fair to say that the media plays an

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18 important role on how people act within society. Yet, there is little research done which directly addresses the impacts of the media on IPV Instead, muc h of the research will either focus on media violence both eroticized and non eroticized types of violence and the effects that these types of images have on viewers (Linz, Donnerstein, and Pendrod 1984; Mullin & Linz 1995), and still other research explor e how the violence is played out in film that is whether a film depicts acts of violence against an individual are explicit or non explicit in nature (Mullin & Linz 1995; Sparks, Sparks & Sparks 2005). Mullin and Linz (1995), for example, were one of a fe w scholars who began to examine the effects of viewing violence and opinions toward IPV They found that men who were exposed to acts of sexual violence became desensitized and Linz 1995:456). Although Mullin and Linz had their focus on IPV this lessened sensitivity toward real life violence after viewing violence in the media is a common finding d Other scholars, while not directly gearing their studies toward IPV examine the extent that violence and the perception and desensitizat ion of violence carries individuals contend that the continual portrayal of women in film and other mass media as victims. .encourage the battering and sexual harassment of wo men in real life (Linz et al. 1984:130). Not only are people seeing violence and then, in turn,

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19 parroting it, but the extent of what they are seeing is no longer affecting them in a negative way. The media also helps create stereotypes with its repetition and thus normalization of images and ideas. This repetition allows the media to perpetuate images about deviant acts, such as those which occur between individuals within IPV e prevailing stereotypes about battered women. The three main stereotypes are: (1) women are sadomasochistic they enjoy being abused and that is why they choose to stay; (2) women instigate the assaults through antagonistic verbal behavior; (3) women in th ese relationships are outspoken and domineering who exploit the passiveness and dependency of their partners, to violent or even deadly consequences. Despite her article being written in 1977, the three stereotypes which Carlson examines have changed very little within the past several decades. Many individuals within the general public still believe many of these same stereotypes of victims of IPV The general public continues to view the fault almost solely with the victim, while placing little or no bla me on the abuser as it is easier to write the abuse off on it being the victims fault (Pagelow 1992). Even the victims date back to the mid 1970s, have done little to chang e the opinion of some individuals. However, these three ways of thinking can be extremely detrimental to individuals experiencing these volatile types of relationships. By laying the blame solely on the shoulders of the abused, any changes or advancements in domestic violence laws will be fighting an uphill battle against these perpetuated images.

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20 Duncan Wheeler (2009) attempted to examine both common and representational strategies within films dealing with domestic violence. Wheeler examined five mainstream films which had been shown within English language cinemas, and sought to approach the anal yses of these films as a feminist criticism depictions of the problem have, at best, a nebulous relationship to real life incidents attempted to tease out potential meanings to hope that a debate might arise on how domestic violence could be and should be represented within films. His examination of these films, however, do not feel fully grounded, nor do they make any real attempts to explain the films relation to the reality of domestic violence. Instead, Wheelers findings seemed to be solely how domestic violence is merely a mechanism, along with casting, solely to create a thriller. Many of his analyses of the events within the film s examined were not completely accurate to what had been depicted within the films, which may have resulted in some of his skewed biases for the depiction of violence within the films as well as his incomplete analysis.

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21 CHAPTER 3 METHODS Content Analyses A content analysis is the examination of images, body of texts, and/or symbolic matter which is then analyzed to discover patterns, important relationships or defining characteristics of the examined aspects (Krippendorff 2004; Riffe, Lacy, and F ico 2014). Although content analyses have been conducted throughout time it is within the past several decades that content analyses have become used progressively more to examine a variety of issues, particularly within different forms of media content. These different forms of media content can include, but are not limited to: TV shows such as daytime soap operas, reality shows or entire newscasts films, individual camera shots within a dramatic show or film, advertisements, literature either in book or newspapers and magazines and/or speeches. The practice of examining the wide variety of media content has moved from being only within the fields of journalism and mass communication, to being adopted by disciplines such as sociology, psychology along with other social sciences. This influx of so many disciplines turning to using content analyses has resulted in the disciplines contributing their own research methods and theoretical perspectives to approach the viewing of this material in a different way ( Riffe, Lacy, and Fico 2014). With the variety of different discipli nes using content analyses, the function of the content analysis has become more diverse and have become an end in itself instead of being merely a mechanism to help other quantitative or qualitative

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22 methods to explain a bigger research question. The addition of this diversity has allowed other fields the ability to examine messages such as the way scenes are framed; how different minority groups are presented; the acceptability of certain actions of individuals; or how differing views are presented to the viewer (Riffe, Lacy, and Fico 2014). While content analyses are sometimes viewed as being a lesser tool to use for research, a coded content analysis was the best fit for this study. T his is largely due to the nature of the data, which consists enti rely of film depictions of IPV. A content analysis allowed for the ability to look at films from a range of years, as well as giving the option of coding, and recoding, the data. This allowed for any errors which may have been found to be corrected. Another advantage of conducting a content analysis for this study was its economy in terms of both time and money (Babbie, 2015). With The goals of this content analysis was to identify and assess the content of IPV and to be able to find recurrent patterns in the representation of abuse within films. Sample and Sampling Data The data consists of nine films that deal with IPV The films were selected through a combination of convenience and purposi ve sampling. For the convenience sampling aspect, the films were chosen due to the ir availability They were acquired through DVD, taping them from TV, or through YouTube. They were then narrowed down through purposive sampling, particularly a homogeneous purposive sampling.

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23 The sample was assembled around the shared characteristic of women being the victims of abuse and men being the perpetrators of the abuse. The characteristic of whitness of the abused and/or abuser was also taken into consideration for purposive sampling, although was not exclusive. The n ine films chosen while lacking in diversity in regards to race covered a wide breadth of abuse and types of intimate partner relationships. The relationships depicted range from ones which were dating r elationships, perceived dating relationships, and those where the individuals had been married for several years. These data are also able to give a sense as to how the factors that contribute or hinder a flight from an abusive relationship may have change d in their portrayal in films, as these films range from 1989 to 2013. The films ended up falling into one of two categories: (1) showing the relationship and, subsequently the escalation of abuse from the coming together as a couple through the separatio n and aftermath of the relationship; (2) do not show how the relationship was initially established although, that portion may be explored within the narrative of the film but instead deal more with the escape and the aftermath, in which the individuals tr y to create a new life within society. These nine films were also chosen, in large part, as they were accessible. Made for TV movies, in particular, which deal with the subject of IPV are not necessarily released to DVD, so they had been recorded during th eir airing. Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story is a 1989 film directed by Robert Markowitz and stars Nancy McKeon, as Tracey, and Dale Midkiff, as Buck Thurman, and revolves around an almost exclusively white c ast. This film is one of the three

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24 films which notes that it is based on a true story, and shows the relationship in its entirety, and was a made for TV movie. After its initial opening scene, showing a badly beaten Tracey, the film flashes back to when Tracey had been working at a hotel and met Buck, who was very charming. Shortly after Buck begins to become violent, citing his own abusive childhood. When a pregnant Tracey leaves him, he follows her and promises her that he will never hit her again and wanted to marry her, to which Tracey hesitantly agrees. After their son C.J. is born, Buck returns to his old ways which leads Tracey to leaving him and moving away. When Buck finds her again, she realizes that the police protection for her restraining orders is nonexistent, as they do not see her issue as one they should be involved in Th e police also go so far as implying to Buck that t he y are siding with him When Buck confronts Tracey one last time, it leads to near deadly consequences for her. The results of these injuries lead not only to a groundbreaking court case but also leads to many legal changes for domestic violence cases. Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) shows a glimpse into one of the last interactions between a married couple before the escape from the relationship occurs. This film was directed by Joseph Ruben and stars Juli a Roberts, as Laura, with Patrick Bergin as her controlling husband, Martin. This film centers around a white cast and was released initially to theaters before finding its way to airing on TV. The film opens to the audience being witness to some aspects o controlling nature by the way he tells Laura what he wants her to wear, to Laura correcting the direction that the cans in the cupboard need to face after Martin reprimanded her for the hand towels being uneven ly placed on the rack. Laura fakes

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25 her own death while on a boating trip under the guise that she cannot swim to ultimately escape Martin and ends up moving to a small town in Iowa. As she tries to create a new life for herself, she meets her neighbor Ben (Kevin Anderson) and, after some he sitation, finally begins to trust him enough to open up to him. Yet, all is no t perfect when Marin finds out that his wife had lied about several things during that Laura m ay not in fact be dead. This newfound knowledge leads Martin to track down Laura and he breaks into her house. It all ends with a standoff between Laura and Martin where Laura, ultimately, kills Martin. Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? (1996) was direct ed by Jorge Montesi and stars Tori Spelling as Laurel and Ivan Sergei as Billy. This film is different from the others, in the sense that unlike most where the women change their name upon leaving the relationship, it is Billy who is trying to avoid the po lice for the murders he classmate, Kevin. This film follows an all white cast and, while intended for a theatrical release in the United States, ended up debuting as a TV movie, and has developed somewhat of a cult following and a 2016 remake. It also shows the relationship in its entirety. Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? follows Laurel, a college student, as she meets Billy, who very quickly becomes completely infatuated with Laure l. Billy not only monitors Laurel activities but he also wants to be the only one that Laurel spends time with. When she needs space, or if Billy sense s that he does not have complete con trol over her thoughts particularly when he attempts to undermine

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26 L through control he becomes aggressive and jealous. He finally is able to convince her to move from her cabin. It i s here that Billy isolates her further by refusing to have a phone line installed and tampering with her car, and resorts to drugging her when she tries to leave him. Meanwhile, her mother, sensing Billy is hiding something, finds out he killed his high sc hool girlfriend who had attempted to break up with him. Sensing that Laurel wakes up and tries to escape, Billy becomes physically violent in his attempts to stop her from le aving. When she manages to escape, shortly before the arrival of her mother to save her from Billy, she runs to the lake where the final standoff between Billy and Laurel occurs. To buy time, Laurel uses her mother as the scapegoat as to why she and Billy cannot be together, as Billy is threatening to kill both Laurel and her mother. Accepting her deception, Laurel attacks Billy with an oar from the dock, knocking him into the late, and presumably killing him. It is within the last scene, however, that we f ind that Billy was not killed and instead is on another college campus, with a new identity and a college girl who looks and behaves similar to Laurel and his first, murdered, girlfriend. No One Would Tell is a 1996 a made for TV film directed by Noel No sseck that shows the relationship in its entirety that is, shows the coming together of the couple through the termination of the relationship and the subsequent aftermath of the termination of the relationship. This film is loosely based on a true story. This film revolves around an all white main cast. The film follows two high school students

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27 Bobby (Fred Savage), the attractive wrestler, and Stacy (Candace Cameron), the shy fellow student, as they navigate their dating relationship. At first, they are bo th very happy and spend nearly all their time together. However, slowly Bobby becomes jealous of the attention Stacy gives to, and receives from, other guys in school and his possessive colors begin to show. These possessive qualities slowly lead to violen ce from Bobby and leads to a growing distance between Stacy and her friends. When Stacy finally ends the relationship, Bobby plans to win her back because if he cannot have her, no one will. Upon apologizing to her, he takes her to their spot at the lake. During an argument, Bobby grabs Stacy and slits her throat killing her. With the help of a friend, he hides her body in the lake and participates extensively in the search for her, much to the dislike of her friends who know he body is ultimately found, Bobby is convicted and the judge leaves the court and, subsequently, the viewer, with a final note that if one witnesses dating violence something needs to be said. As with No One Would Tell Enough (2002) is another film that sh ows the relationship in its entirety. Directed by Michael Apted, this film was originally released in theaters. The film stars Jennifer Lopez, as Slim, and Billy Campbell as her husband, Mitch. There is a good deal of diversity among this cast, with the in clusion of several Hispanic individuals as well as African American individuals in the form of crooked FBI agents and helpful trainers and lawyers. The film follows how Slim and Mitch first meet at a diner, marry, and have their daughter, Gracie. A few yea rs after Gracie was born, Slim finds out that Mitch is sleeping around with another woman and, upon confronting him about it, he hits her and says that since

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28 he makes the money he can do what he wants. Mitch also notes that if Slim wants him to stop, she c decides to take Gracie and leave, with only support from her small group of family and friends. With Mitch determined to get Gracie back, even if it means the death of Slim, he calls on help from as well as resorting to blackmail friends in positions of power, such as in the police department. Knowing Mitch will not stop looking for her, and after being found once by him and nearly killed, Slim trains herself to be able to fight back against him and protect herself and Gracie. Knowing what she is about to guise of being in San Fra ncisco for a custody hearing. While Mitch is at work, she cases the house, removes the numerous guns and potential weapons Mitch has hidden around his house prepares herself for a fight and waits until he gets home. Ultimately, Slim uses her training to c onfront him, and go es about killing him, before she is killed; although, the final act of killing him was entirely in self defense. When the police arrive, who Ginny had called when she lost a phone connection with Slim, she looks meek and like the victim to which the police note that she is a lucky one. is Seattle, to a life with an old boyfriend and a support at various points during the film Joe (Dan Futterman). Intimat e Stranger (2006) was directed by Bert Kish and stars Kari Matchett, as Karen, and Peter Outerbridge, as Denis. The film follows a white cast, was a made for TV movie, and shows the relationship in its entirety. Karen is a divorced,

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29 single mother of a nine year old son, Justin. Her ex husband, John, was controlling which was the reason they got divorced and is not particularly involved sabotages all her relationships yet he r sister continually tries to set her up. It is attentive which, at first, Karen appreciates, especially after he makes an effort to bond with Justin. When weird things start happeni ng such as noises in her attic as well as telephone calls that all have the caller hanging up without talking Karen begins to suspect an ex boyfriend is stalking her. With the uncertainty with the weird things happening, on top of Denis moving too fast in their relationship and his over attentiveness, Karen breaks up with Denis. Soon after their break up, Karen starts getting very sick and the odd occurrences keep occurring which leads her to reaching out to the police. As she confronts her ex husband and ex boyfriend, she finds out that Denis may be the one she should be worried about. With the police telling her that Denis is saying she had threatened him when she had confronted him to stay away from her and Justin she is put in a place of little protecti on. When Denis abducts Karen from her home, with the intent of taking her to a gravesite and killing her, she manages to crash the car, subsequently ejecting Denis through the windshield. Getting out of the car, Karen draws her gun but before Karen can sho ot Denis, the police arrive and tell her to stop and arrest Denis. The police tell her that had she not done what she did, with crashing the car, she would have been murdered. The film ends with Karen, Justin, and her boss Alex (Jonas Chernick) who had bee n romantically interested in her, although she earlier had noted their

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30 age difference as the reason they could not be together happily hanging out Past Obsessions (2011) was directed by Raul Inglis, and stars Josie Davis, as Shane, and David Millbern as her husband, Matt. The film consist primarily of a white cast, was a made for TV film, and shows a glimpse of the final days of the abusive relationship and the escape from the relationship. In the beginning of the film we lea rn that Shane stays at home, but is very artistic and has her own studio, while Matt is a wealthy and prominent real estate developer. It is before and after a dinner party that the audience catches a glimpse of the range of controlling behavior and abuse birthday, Shane fakes her own death under the guise getting lost in the woods to escape from Matt. She ends up moving to a small town in the Northwest where a Meg (Alisen Down), she begins to create a new life within this small community and meets a local Thomas (Lochlyn Munro). Yet, when a GPS company calls Shane abou t a product recall, and instead reaches Matt, Matt begins to find out that he was lied to about several things and Shane likely is not dead. With this new knowledge, Matt tracks down Shane killing two individuals who had helped Shane, and nearly killing Th death. Shadow of Fear (2012) was directed by Michael Lohman and stars Amanda Righetti, as Casey, Will Estes, as Morgan, and Christie Burson as Toni. The film follows an almost exclusively white cast, although there is one African American

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31 male in a supporting friend role, and was made for TV. It is the final film to claim that it was based on a true story. The film focuses on Casey, a recent college graduate who works at a local coffee shop during the day and a bar at night, as well as writing for a local paper. It is when her boss, Annette (Catherine Hicks), hires Morgan to help around the coffee shop where the course of the film begins to al ter After a brief stint at the coffee shop, and after reacting somewhat aggressively with a customer, Morgan stops showing up for work. However, he saw his brief interactions with Casey as much more, so much that he thought there was a connection even a r elationship between them. He begins calling the coffee shop, monitoring her from his new job across the street, writing letters to her, following her, and leaving dozens of messages on her home phone. Finally, Casey turns to the police for help, and after until Morgan makes an actual threat against her. Afraid to leave her house, Casey withdraws which worries both her friends and family. Eventually, a police detective tries to he lp her and through a handful of confrontations with Morgan, and finding out he not only has sealed records but should be taking prescribed medication to control schizophrenia, he finally makes enough of a threat to give the police reason to arrest him. The while the events may be over, she is still dealing with the effects of the stalking in her everyday life. Safe Haven (2013) is the final film where the leading wo man Erin (Julianne Hough) leaves an abusive marital relationship for a small town, in an attempt to start a new life. This film was originally released in theaters

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32 and follows an all white main cast. In this town, she meets Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower w a cop who is beyond desperate to get her back, especially after having been stabbed by her during her escape attempt. Kevin resorts to putting out wanted posters for Erin for attem pted murder, which results in him being suspended from the police force. When Alex finds the poster, and that her name is really Erin as he had been under the notion it was Katie, he feels initially betrayed. It is only when Erin is about to leave that Ale x stops her to hear more about her story. Upon hearing that her husband was an abusive alcoholic, Alex tells her he is determined to protect it turns out to be an explosive end for the demanding she come home with him. When Erin tells him to leave, Kevin begins to douse the store with gasoline and draws a gun, intending to burn the store down. home with him. Once his guard is down, she pushes him in the water, just in time to see the store ignites due sparks from the fireworks. Alex, who is shooting off the fireworks for the town across the bay, jumps into the boat when he sees his shop on fire and manages to get back and rescue his daughter. Before Erin can get back inside or help Alex, Erin is attacked by Kevin and during a struggle for the gun, the gun fires and kills Kevin.

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33 Coding The codes were created in a two step process. They were originally pulled from concepts within the literature. They were then examined and solidified during the initial examination of two films Sleeping with the Enemy and No One Would Tell The codes created were subsequently applied when examining the remaining seven films. These two films were chosen at random from four films S leeping with the Enemy No One Would Tell Enough and Safe Haven as these had been four films that were previously secured to be examined. All nine films were watched at least three times to make sure the codes were applied consistently. While coding, bo th latent and manifest aspects were noted Latent coding means to code the underlying meaning presented within an artifact in this case a film while manifest coding examines the visible, surface content. Manifest coding has the advantage of increased relia bility through depicting which codes were used and how coding was done. As Earl Babbie (2015) notes, compared to latent coding, manifest coding may be disadvantaged in terms of validity as the deeper meaning of concepts could be overlooked. However, throug h the use of the literature to help create the codes, this shortcoming was attempted to be curbed. The codes that developed were: factors that hinder, factors that facilitate, and characteristics of [the primarily main characters]. Factors that hinder cou ld include any aspect that stopped or prevented the victim from leaving the abusive relationship. This could include lack of support from outside sources, such as friends or police, or lack of resources. Factors that facilitate could include any aspect tha t

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34 helped the victim leave the abusive situation. This could include resources available to the victim, knowledge/traits that the victim did not share with the abuser such as the ability to swim or being able to defend themselves or support from friends or law enforcement. Characteristics of tended to be broken down between primarily the victim and the abused, although it could include other secondary individuals who had a lot of contact with either the abused or victim. While it was not a definitive catego ry, a n an area to take notes on other notable scenes/moments of interest that occurred within the film. Aspects within the other could include an individual having back up plans to aid in their separation from their husban d, the form of transportation used to leave the relationship, victim blaming by non primary or key secondary characters, or other observations which were not characteristics of the individuals or factors that facilitated or hindered the escape from the abu sive relationship.

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35 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Portrayal of Individuals: The Abused Characteristics Age. While rarely explicitly specified, the nine films covered a range of ages. Of the nine films, the supposed ages of the women ranged from their teens Stacy, a high school student is presumably 16 or 17 years old to being more within the bracket of middle ag ed, specifically Karen, a mother, who was in her mid to late 30s. While the ages were not explicitly given in most cases, Tracey is the only one where there is a very solid age bracket. This is largely based on it being a film based on a true story, and sh e was approximately 24 or 25 when her husband almost killed her. This approximately 20 year age range is interesting to note. The literature notes that IPV is not something that happens exclusively to teenagers, middle aged women, or young adults. Abuse is something that can happen to older adults and seniors as well, yet that is not what is depicted within the films. None of the nine films addressed this older age group, nor were there any notable films which were in the category of IPV and not examined in this research. This brings an aspect that popular culture could and should explore within future films. Changes in a ppearance and n ame. Of the nine films, it was typically those who were married to their abuser that changed their name and/or appearan ce. Four of the women changed their name upon leaving the relationship, all of which had

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36 been married to their abuser. As for changes in appearances, four women changed their hair style or color, with three of the four being married. These changes were s omething which was done to try to not only blend into the community they were moving to, but it was also used as an attempt to disappear from their abuser. In two of the instances, Laura and Shane, their abuser believed they had died and were not looking f or them. To help aid in this rebirth of sorts, they used the change in name and appearance as a way to separate from their previous way of life. The changes in appearance for Laura had been the length of her hair, although she had worn a wig while travelin g on the bus to disguise herself further As for the changes for Erin, she changed both the length and color of her hair going from a brunette to a blonde after fleeing from her husband yet before leaving town, which ultimately gave her husband an identifi er as to how she might currently look as he was looking for her. Slim also changes her hairstyle, particularly the length, after she and her daughter leave Mitch. Changes in appearance were not the only aspect. Enough shows Slim changing her name in a wa y that is not entirely legal. After examining old obituary sections of local newspapers, she went to a government office claiming to have lost her birth certificate and received both a birth certificate and license. Essentially, she commits identi ty theft. Upon being found by Mitch, Slim ditches this identity as it had been compromised. Nevertheless, Slim is the only one to get paperwork to back up her fake identity and name change. This contrasts with Erin, Laura, and Shane who simply adopt a new name with no forms of identification to back up that identity. This is also notable because although they identify under new

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37 names, they were never asked to show proof of their identity despite renting houses (Erin and Laura) and applying to jobs in their new location (Erin). While this was something that nearly half the women did, and has become somewhat of a stereotype within films depicting IPV it is something that is either not examined or prominently noted within the literature. It is perplexing, the n, to have this notion of being either on the run or hiding from the abuser where the woman must change her name and appearance when it is not an aspect which is supported within literature on abuse. It brings into question where this narrative came from w hen not supported by society. Also, with how many forms of identification one typically needs when seeking to rent a house, apartment, or simply applying for a job, it brings into question if this provides an unrealistic expectation by the media of how eas y it is to just assume a new name and identity if one wants to disappear. Children. While in some instances children were part of the dynamic, children were present within only four films, and of five children, only two children were from a relationship be tween the abused and their partner. In Intimate Stranger Karen had a child who came from a previous marriage. In Safe Haven Erin dated a man, after leaving the abusive relationship, who had two small children. In the case of the latter, the children had developed a relationship with Katie and she felt the need to protect those children from her abusive partner. In the two instances Slim from Enough and Tracey from A Cry for Help where the child came from the relationship between the abused and abuser, th ere was more of a grey area. Both Slim and Tracey, initially, were hesitant to leave their

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38 abusers, in part, because they did not want their child growing up without a father figure and/or needed support of the husbands. In both cases the children were als o used as a tool by the abusers to try and keep the women with them and not acting out/trying to leave. This struggle is very consistent to the literature as children tend to be put in this position as a tool. Personality. While not a universal split, ther e was an interesting grouping of personalities between those who were dating and those who were married. For those women who were married, they tended to embody characteristics such as: shy, quiet, passive, or being generally reserved. The women also had t raits that are generally associated with femininity, such as artistic, nurturing, and feeling indebted to their partner for the support they provided While these women could be viewed as weaker because of their very caring and overtly feminine traits, they tended to consistently be much more cunning, smart, and deceptive. These planning and deceptive traits not only helped them plan and carry out their escape from the abuse, but also helped them stay off the radar after escaping. However, their carefully pl anned escape was often somehow compromised which tipped off their husbands as to where they were. These deceptive traits and outside factors will be discussed in more detail later. Upon leaving the relationship, those who were married tended to be less t rusting of outsiders, particularly males, compared to their dating counterparts who were more willing to engage with friends or strangers. They were jumpy when people would make quick motions (seen with Laura and Shane) and did not respond

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39 well to excessiv e questioning (seen with Erin, Laura, and Shane). Laura noted to a which she used as a cover for herself, and as a way to remove herself slightly while sharing her story saw herself as weak by staying in the relationship as long as she did; a statement which was refuted by the passenger saying she was strong for leaving which Laura did not fully believe. In comparison to the married women, those who were dating tended to be strong, outgoing, self sufficient, and sure of th emselves. These women tended to speak their mind, not feel as though they needed a man to complete them, and be very active in sports or just normal physical exercise. Three of the four individuals in dating relationships were either in school or recently graduated, and two of the four individuals were working. In both work and school, they were noted by numerous individuals as either being good workers, employees, or students, indicating a strong work ethic. For Casey this work ethic was just a show with putting her multiple jobs before her love life or relaxation time; with Laurel, her work ethic appeared when she poured herself into school and sports which partly stemmed from coping with an eating disorder getting two majors while studying for classes in China, and being on the track team; with Karen she put her work ahead of her health, refusing to go home until her co worker makes her. It also is important to note that those who were in dating relationships tended to have a much higher level of educatio n than those who were married to their abuser. This could largely support why they are self sufficient because they had the background and schooling to be able to support themselves easier than their

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40 married counterparts. This could also be because a commo n aspect was a financial or family issue that hindered those who were married from additional schooling. Types of Abuse Economic a buse. The women who were married to their abuser were the ones who primarily experienced economic abuse. Both Laura and Shane case, it was noted that she did work part time at the local library. However, with the amount of money she had saved, and where she had it stored, it is likely that Martin did not know about how much she had. This also could indicate that Laura may have taken it from another source such as through excess cash of groceries although it is never mentioned or explored within the film. Upon leaving her partner, Erin was given s ome money by her neighbor. This would indicate that she did not have access to other finances, nor had she planned to leave like she did, so she did not have money saved. Slim, too, was a stay at home mother, after her marriage, leaving her with only the j oint finances with Mitch their credit cards and bank account. This became an issue when she left Mitch. Not only did this connection leave a trail of where she was, but Mitch was able to report the cards stolen and cancel the cards, leaving Slim reliant on her friends for support. For Tracey, at various points, both she and Buck were employed. However, after she had her son, Buck was the sole breadwinner. Tracey, subsequently, was financially dependent on him. However, while she was very aware of the money they

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41 had to work with, Buck was prone to gambling his paycheck away. This left Tracey not only few resources to leave with, but also minimal resources to h e lp feed herself or their son. Also, at one point when they were by her family, Buck complained abou t the lack of jobs and requested they move back to Florida, claiming they would return once they had more money to live on. As was Bucks nature, once they were in Florida he had not intent on saving money and quickly returned to his gambling ways. This, ag ain left Tracey secluded from friends and family, as well as having limited finances. Although, they were not married to their abuser, Casey ( Shadow of Fear ) and Karen ( Intimate Stranger ) also experienced forms of economic abuse. However, the economic came largely as a byproduct of the which, on at least one occasion, caused her to lose a big client. If he were to continue to do this, it c ould put her in a position where she would be laid off from her job or simply that she would not make enough money to live independently. With Morgan constantly calling Casey, monitoring her actions, and unexpectedly showing up at her place of employment, she was unable to maintain two jobs. Had her boss, Annette, not be so understanding and supportive she would have not had any jobs or financial opportunity. While Morgan did not directly control (Adams et al. 2008:564), his behavior resulted in Casey struggling to financially support herself.

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42 Physical a buse. Physical abuse was present in seven of the nine films, with all the films with married couples depicting physical abuse. While not the onl y form of abuse used, A Cry for Help Enough, No One Would Tell, Past Obsessions, Safe Haven and Sleeping with the Enemy put emphasis on this being one of the primary forms of abuse which the perpetrator of abuser chose to use. Mother, May I Sleep with D anger? did show Billy choking Laurel when she attempted to leave, although physical abuse was not the primary form which Billy used. The depictions of physical abuse included slapping/hitting/punching, kicking/stomping, shoving, forcefully grabbing, and ch line with what the literature indicated, and did not include many new or unique depictions of physical violence. Psychological a buse. It was those who were in dating relationships who we re more likely to experience psychological abuse. The forms of psychological abuse depicted included: manipulation ( Intimate Stranger and Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?) controlling behavior seen in all films but Intimate Stranger and Shadow of Fear dis tancing their partners from family and friends shown in all the films and criticism or name calling present in all films except Intimate Stranger These approaches to psychological abuse overlapped consistently with what the literature presented of the iss ue. himself needed. This manifested in two ways: through drugging Karen; and attempting to manipulate her into feeling guilty by being extra chivalrous. While the manipulation is an aspect w hich is shown in the literature, it was the drugging that

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43 deviated slightly. When she was drugged, Karen would black out and would not be able to remember what happened or who she may have talked to. Denis was banking on the fact that, in her weakened stat e, Karen would see that she needed him around. However, that turned out to not be the case, as she turned to her family and co workers for support instead of him. While much which happened to Casey could easily qualify as stalking, there also was a predom inant element of psychological abuse. That is, within the constant barrage of phone and letter messages claiming that she was a killer and an all around horrible person this can begin to affect someone mentally. This constant criticism and name calling, es sentially, was meant to harm her self worth. It also was an attempt, by Morgan, to control Casey. Stalking. Nearly all the women experienced stalking to some degree. Casey, Karen, Laurel, Stacy, and Tracey dealt with extreme instances of stalking by their class, on a run, or know exactly where to find her throughout the day. In instances where he waited at her dorm for her although they had no plans to meet or see each oth er he would then be angry that she was not where she was supposed to be when he thought she was supposed to be there. He also seemed doubtful that she would have gone on a longer run, implying that she was doing something secret or doing something with som eone not him. Stacy has a similar experience with stalking. Bobby would monitor who she was with, how long she was with them, and where she was, even in situations where

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44 he did not fully know if Stacy was there. For example, when talking over the phone to a girl who liked Bobby, Bobby asked her if Stacy was at the bowling alley where this girl was. Upon finding out Stacy was indeed there, he asked this girl to get Stacy so he could talk to her. He would also behave similarly when Stacy was at her houses. Although he really should know that she was there, Bobby would then call her friends and ask to speak to Stacy just to make sure. This ease of asking other students where Stacy was, was largely aided by his popularity among the student body. This p opularity stemmed from him being portrayed as one of the top athletes in the school. previous boyfr iend, after only their first date thought he and Karen were meant to be. He would also do everything in threes: three back to back calls, three dozen roses, and so on. When Karen originally took a break from Denis, he began copying this pattern essentially being a copycat stalker. This caused Karen to believe that it was her previous boyfriend trying to get in touch again, and completely dismissed that it could be Denis or anyone else for that matter. Despite believing she knew who the perpetrator of the st alking was his calls at random times of the night still got to her. As an effect of the stalking, she became prone to outbursts of frustration toward family, friends, and the police. This type of monitoring, although copycat in nature, is supported by the literature as the nature and effects of stalking. However, it was likely the most representative of the literature and had the most

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45 extreme instances of stalking in any of the films only followed and monitored her on errands, he would both call and show up at her place of employment. He also sent bins full of mail to her, followed her and her ultimately resulti ng in his arrest and filled up her answering machine daily with accusations that his behavior was entirely her fault. All of these behaviors provided a high level of fear within Casey. Instead of being able to go to her two jobs, or feel as though she coul d easily leave the house to go on a run, she dreaded going outside and would close all the blinds and hide within her house. This fear, ultimately, lead her to begin taking anxiety medication as she could not begin to cope with the constant bombardment of harassment. Again, this represents a broad range of what stalking encompasses, agreeing with what Tjaden & Thoennes (1998) found. Sexual a buse. The primary forms of sexual abuse presented in the films tended to be the abuser forcing their partner to perfo rm unwanted sexual acts, rather than attacking or mutilating sexual body parts. These acts ranged from either undressing their partner or having them put on a strip tease, both of which end in intercourse which were seen in Past Obsession and Sleeping with the Enemy to forcible spousal rape depicted in A Cry for Help This is not to say that the undressing of their partner, or forced strip tease is not spousal rape, as the abused in both instances did not appear to willing agree. However, between the situat ions, Laura and Shane both did not verbally object to the intercourse, whereas Tracey had during the whole rape. This lack of objection likely is an attempt to pacify their husbands and not incur further, and potentially more obvious or violent forms of

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46 ab use. Again, that does not negate their experience, it only attempts to code that which was depicted. Karen, unlike the other cases, was drugged prior to the encounter. Denis had been drugging Karen with chloroform during a portion of the film, unbeknownst to her. In one scene, we witness through her drugged haze kissing and touching of her body by Denis. While, she initially believed it was a dream, she later begins to whe re Karen found out she had a bladder infection a fairly routine occurrence when a woman has had sex recently, particularly when there was limited intercourse previously. However, this bladder infection could have also been merely a side effect of the chlor oform, as it is never distinguished or clarified. Yet, with the scenes we are shown, it is suggested that it is from intercourse, indicating a rape occurred. Portrayal of the Individuals: The Abuser Characteristics Control and a thleticism. The characteris tics of the abusers were much more consistent between the films, particularly when it came to personality. The most common personality trait was the abuser being controlling or monitoring of their partner. This trait appeared in every film, although to dif ferent extremes. In Sleeping with the Enemy, Martin is portrayed as a man obsessed with the details of perfection, and his controlling nature can be seen in two ways. One of the ways is within his direct actions and interactions with Laura. He not only t ells her what he wants expects her to wear to work functions he also physically

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47 undresses and dresses her into clothes he bought her. His controlling tendencies are also seen when not directed at Laura. This, most noticeably, is his compulsion to have all the towels lined up perfectly and the cans, in the cupboard, facing forward. It is assumed that, while this is not related to Laura directly, she is aware of these rules and it is not solely an isolated occurrence. Similarly, Matt from Past Obsessions u ses similar tactics of control with Shane. While Shane is getting dressed for a dinner party, Matt approaches her and questions if the outfit she has on is what she is wearing. While she believes that it is appropriate, Matt quickly reprimands her choices, noting his opinion on another outfit that she should wear instead. As Martin undressed Laura, Matt, too, does a similar sex, despite how uncomfortable it makes Shane. of perfection, the film Enough, mechanism to give the feel of complete power. This complete power is both over Slim and any situa tion thrown at him. In this, Mitch is aided by the notion that with his wealth he can buy whatever he would like; an aspect which is proven correct, or well grounded, throughout the film. A notable instance of this is when he is buying a house for Slim and himself one that is not for sale. The homeowner is originally taken aback and does not readily accept the offer. Mitch then informs the very difficult unless he chooses to self the house to them. The scene transitions from a nervous looking homeowner to Mitch and Slim moving into the house. Mitch

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48 managed to control the situation, and indicate to the homeowner that while he may think he has a choice in selling, all the control is and Martin, this house also had the added aspect of playing into an image the abuser wanted to portray. The control used by most of those who were in dating/co worker relationships Morgan, Denis, Bobby, and Billy ten ded to air on the side of monitoring to demonstrate control. Morgan embraced tactics which monitored Casey, such as following her or watching her, with the primary goal to exert control over her life. Billy, too, would not only follow Laurel, he would trac k her whereabouts and know how long she had been gone. No One Would Tell showed Bobby using other physical forms to demonstrate and gain control. He very much also relied on monitoring Stacy by coming to her house or asking their joint friends where she wa s. Lastly, Denis uses monitoring in both a role as a gatekeeper to remove Karen from her ex husband and by hiding/living in her crawl space which gave him access to both her house and knowledge of where she was. It is also worth noting, on one occasion Billy in Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? suggested had Laurel change the color and style of her hair. This was to both make Laurel resemble a previous girlfriend, which he killed, as well as attempt to insert a wedge between Laurel and her mother. However, the use of direct forms of control, such as this, were much less with Billy, as he focused much more on monitoring as control which will be addressed shortly.

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49 While the controlling nature of the abuser was t he most observed characteristic the second most frequent trait and one which appeared to be at least moderately connected to control was athleticism. In over half of the films the abuser either was shown working out (Bobby, Martin, and Matt) or was in a job position which would need the individual to be active on a regular basis (Kevin, Buc k, and Morgan). The remaining three males from the remaining films were neither obese nor out of shape. Jealousy. This was a key quality of abusers which continually was presented within the literature, and was also supported within the films. Of the nine films, six of the films had the abuser acting jealous toward their partner. The jealousy displayed primarily surrounded the abused either talking or interacting with to another man ( A Cry for Help, Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?, No One Would Tell, Past Obsessions, Sleeping with the Enemy ) or comments made about their partners looks from another guy ( A Cry for Help, No One Would Tell, Sleeping with the Enemy) Intimate Stranger was somewhat unique when Denis just got jealous of the fact that she stayed in contact with her ex husband largely because she had a son with her ex husband; or that while Denis tried to help Karen out, she either did not want his help or would ask for help from other individuals. History of Violence All or n othing. There was a me ntality presented by many of the abusers of, acting out Billy, for example, became particularly violent when he believed Laurel

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50 was going to abandon him or as a reason to kill, or try and kill, the abused. The latter option was where this concept was presented more often and encompassed both those who were dating and married to their partner. Those who, at some point, displayed this mentality of needing to kill their par tner were Bobby, Buck, Denis, Kevin, Martin, Matt, and Mitch. Kevin from Safe Haven took this a step further when he began pouring gasoline over the building Erin was in, while being covered in the gasoline himself. He was ready to kill both of them rather than face the possibility of living without her. This contrasts with the others which focused more on just killing the victim for not wanting to be with them than doing a murder suicide combination. To be fair, Matt threatens a murder suicide combination to get Shane to come home, however he does not show or act as though he would have committed suicide after killing her, Mitch also provided a somewhat unique situation, in that he would not see: her death which woul d grant him sole custody of Gracie. Slim became expendable as if she did not want to be with him, that would be fine; instead, Mitch would make sure to kill her so Slim could not be with anyone. This was an aspect that did not show up within the literatur e. This absence within the literature could happen for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons could be that within the films, we are the audience member. By taking on this role, the audience is privy to information such as the mental state and actions of the abuser which is not something that the abused may always know. As such, when a victim of abuse is being interviewed within studies, they may not be aware of the lengths their partner would have gone to keep them. Another reason could be less

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51 about a lack within the literature, and the films just presenting a dramatized view suspense. The b lame g ame. While this, in some cases, is similar to psychological abuse or manipula tion, there is this separate section where the abusers fail to take responsibility for their feelings and instead point fingers at the victim. When Laurel needs space, Billy blames her for having such high expectations responsibility himself that his constant presence going so far as to break into a girls only dorm to be near her may be suffocating her. Bobby, too, wrongly directs his aggression toward Stacy. When a fellow as in very good looking or hot, compared to simply meaning okay or satisfactory in her dress, Bobby immediately goes and making other guys notice her. Her intentions had been to look good for Bobby, as history within an abusive household. However, he never gets angry at fellow classmates for talking about Stacy and how she looks, he instead directs that anger solely toward her. embarrassed or feeling as though he has lost face among his friends. At one point, Tracey approached him while he was gambling their money away and called him out

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52 on it. When his friends snickered at his situation, he exploded violently at Tracey, ront of his friends. Instead of As Buck did, Morgan similarly lashes out toward indiv iduals when he thinks wrong order claiming that they were the liars and they had ordered that. Casey tries to pacify him noting that it is okay, and that they will just give the customer what they wanted. This behavior then carries over when he sets his sights on Casey being the one that lied to him, and sends numerous letters and leaves many harassing calls to try and prove his point. He even goes so far as coming into the c offee shop, which is filled with patrons, claiming that Casey killed numerous people. The curbing of this behavior is not helped by the fact that his father, who is lieutenant governor, tries to get Casey to apologize for her behavior toward his son instea d of holding his son truly accountable for his actions. It is here we witness this perpetuation of this blame Cycle of a buse. While not all of the abusers grew up within an abusive household, nearly all of the men are participants within the cycle of abuse. In various forms, and in various degrees of regret from the abuser, the abuser either brought the abused a gift with no accompanied verbal apology (Billy ) or brought them a gift with a verbal apology (Bobby Buck Kevin and Martin ). The only ones who do not apologize are Morgan and Mitch. Mitch is a unique case, however. While he never apologizes to Slim or brings her a gift, he is very much aware of the nature of his

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53 acti ons. Instead of the apologies or gifts, he informs her that if she were to accept his one sided desire for an open marriage, she would have no need to be upset and he would not have to resort to hitting her. He brings her gifts, as he usually does, yet the y were not specifically to make up for his abusive actions. The fact that it took, in some cases, years for these women to leave their abuser, shows how hard it is to separate oneself from the cycle of abuse. The abused kept accepting the gifts and the apologies as if the abusers really meant it. These promises and differing mannerisms from the abuser make it difficult to leave, as the victim may honestly believe that they have reached a turning point within the relationship and it will get better. Jobs and Image Many of the men in these films rely on their jobs as a way to help support their image, or as a means of utilizing tools from their work to benefit themselves. This could largely be because most of the men are in high paying positions which help s foster an interrelationship between the job, the wealth stemming from the job, and the power and control that the job lets them feel that they have control over everything. W hile it is never noted what Martin does for work there are some identifiers th at Martin is not only in a position of power at home, but also at his place of employment. Martin works in an office, which appears to do trading, where he not only has his own large office compared to simply a cubical and he also has his own secretary. He also, at the beginning of the film, not only has to attend business

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54 meetings on what appear to be a regular basis, he uses Laura with her status as his wife to help him during business dinners to schmooze those who he needs to influence or win favor of. I n the case of the dinner, he has Laura change from something that is a bit more conservative to something less conservative but striking. Since Martin puts a lot of weight into image both his and those around him he can guide what others think of his image. This particular change is as if to show those at the dinner that he has power and a young, beautiful woman who is his. Like Martin, Matt shares a similarly high work status, as well as a high regard for image. secluded, house. Also like Martin, Matt is very focused on image and what money can get him. According to Shan e, Matt wine and dined her in the beginning of their relationship and paid off her considerable debt which was a reason she felt that she had to stay with him. Yet, like with Martin, he makes suggestions which are more thinly veiled demands about what Shan e should wear to a dinner they are hosting. It is only after the dinner that Matt notes to Shane that she served the wrong wine cold, noting that it was something she should know. Although the guests made no note of it, this comment emphasizes the control and need for this idealized image of perfection where everything goes by without a hitch. Kevin uses, and abuses, his position in law enforcement to try and find Erin. Shortly after finding out that Erin may have changed her hair style and color, he manip ulates a photo of Erin to what she may currently look like. Not only does he

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55 use police software to do this, he then uses this image when he disperses a nationwide All Points Bulletin (APB) for Erin under the claim that she is wanted for attempted murder. confronts her about. Kevin also uses his position within law enforcement to try to gain information on Erin from those he suspects helped her, particularly their elderly neighbors. Since he h as so many tools from his position at his disposal, as well as a status which allows him to question individuals and have nearly unlimited access to cameras, it makes it harder for Erin to disappear. However, it is through a combination of using these tool s, wrongly accusing Erin, and his increased alcohol consumption at work, which leads to his suspension from his job by his captain. Portrayal of the Individuals: The Lover Of the nine films, five of the films show the abused upon leaving or ending the re lationship finding another man. This man could have previously been someone in the abused life such as Alex in Intimate Stranger and Joe in Enough or someone they met in the new town where they settled in such as Alex in Safe Haven Ben in Sleeping with th e Enemy and Thomas in Past Obsessions Characteristics In all the films, the love interests tend to be the foils to abusers. Where the abuser may be harsh and assertive, the love interest was easy going and nurturing. In instances where the love interest barely knew the abused, he would still offer help and su pport. In some instances, the men would try a lighthearted approach and joke to make the abused at ease (Enough, Past Obsessions, and Sleeping with the

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56 Enemy), would bring the woman gifts either help her ( Safe Haven and Sleeping with the Enemy ), give simpl e gifts of affection ( Past Obsessions ) or be very protective over the abused, an aspect seen with all five men. The lovers in all five films, where there was a lover present, also give the abused space. That is, the men are very willing to wait for the abu sed to open up about their past and experience which brought them there. This is vastly different than the abusers who did not either want, or care, about input or experience of their partner. Jobs Unlike the abusers, the lovers tended to have jobs which were of lower prestige than the abuser they were a foil of. Joe is the only individual whose job was never mentioned. In Sleeping with the Enemy which appears to be an office which deals with trading Ben is a drama teacher at the local community college. It should be noted, that it was this position at the community college that allowed Ben to help Laura visit her mother in the assisted living home. This is due to the resources of the drama department such as: hair, make up, costumes as well as his skill in applying those resources, which Ben has at his disposal because of his position. These skills and resources help Laura go virtually unnoticed, even by Martin who physically ran into Laura in her disguise. T he differences between the two is also seen with how they relate to their but able to see everyone. When he receives a phone call, instead of sitting for it, he

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57 stands and circles his desk. This power stance is lost on the individual on the phone, however the viewer is acutely aware of who he is indicating is in power. For Ben, however, when he is shown with his students, he is sitting in a chair in a circle with them. While Martin embodies the position of power, Ben, in a similar work situation, is portrayed as an equal to those who he should normally have power over. For Past Obsession and Safe Haven, we see a similar separation between job of the lover and abuser. In Past Obsessions Safe Haven to counterbalance positon would primarily deal with the troubled part of society, both Thomas and Alex deal with those in between. That is, they deal with a wide range and diversity of people. Factors that Facilitate Leaving Deception Ac ross nearly all the films, while financial support did play a large role, the main factor that determined if an abused person would leave the relationship and also determined how successful the abused would be in remaining unfound was the abused being cunn ing and deceptive. The abused needed to stay a step or two ahead of their abusers and leave false trails of breadcrumbs, or prepare for numerous situations. These are key qualities that allowed them to successfully leave the relationship.

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58 Erin, Laura, and Shane all used deceptions toward their husbands in their favor, at least during the initial departure. Despite having a home on the ocean, Laura did not swim when she and Martin first got married. Unbeknownst to Martin, Laura was taking lessons at the YWCA and became a very good swimmer. This was a similar situation with Shane, that despite living in the woods she was not outdoorsy at all nor good with direction. Although, knowing she was going to try and leave, Shane prepared and bought a GPS to help her f ind her way out of the woods. She also used the help of Jake, the zipline guide leading them through the forest, to buy her a ticket from the bus station, which she then used to leave town. Erin was similarly deceptive by buying a bus ticket to Atlanta, one of instead got off at a stop along the way. Had she gone to Atlanta, she would have had hundreds of different cities to choose from in numerous directions and distances f rom that hub. This, too, would have been deceptive, but would have been the expected choice to make. By stopping in a town along the way to Atlanta, it provided her with the same freedom and she was able to essentially disappear from Kevin. Tipping Point a nd Opportunity There tended to be one significant turning point that caused the abused to leave. To be able to leave largely relied more on how willing the abused was on changing their life completely rather than the obstacles such as unhelpful law enforcement or financial dependencies. The turning point which caused Erin to leave was thinking that she accidentally murdered her husband while he was choking her.

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59 It was when Slim thought Mitch would not stop sleeping around and/or take their daughter, Gracie, away from her that pushed her over the edge. The opportunity both Laura and Shane found to leave ended up b eing very similar. There had been a definite tipping point, as the abuse occurring over a long time, so both women were waiting solely for the opportunity. Both were benefited by their deceptive planning swimming lessons for Laura and buying a GPS for Shan e. Laura noted while the audience was seeing how she did not die, as Martin suspected, but made her escape that she knew if she took the swimming lessons, there would be a time when he (Martin) would not be watching. Although never mentioned by Shane, it i s understood that she, too, was waiting for a time when he was not looking. Laura may have expected the opportunity to arise for her through swimming, as Martin sought to take her out on a boat yearly, despite her inability to swim. This is similar to Sha ne who knew her husband enjoyed outdoor activities and hiking. The opportunity, indeed, arose for Laura when they were out boating. When Martin was helping the neighbor/captain adjust the sails, after a particularly sudden storm sprang up on the trio, Laur excuse for forgetting something back at the car, after a particularly winding and situations being unaware of the measures their wives took to prepare for these long awaited moments without the ever present gaze of their husbands the husbands believed, not that their partner was able to escape, but that they must be dead due to their lack of physical ability to survi ve these outdoor situations.

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60 Karen was in a unique situation in that she had been in a relationship which had abuse, stalking, and obsessive behavior by her husband and a boyfriend prior to the film. As a result, Karen is not only aware of some of the wa rning signs, but it also has made her listen to her gut. This previous experience helped her initially choose Tracey, too, left because of her gut and being a fairly strong individual. After Buck hit her, upon finding out she was pregnant, Tracey almost immediately went back home to Connecticut where she had family and friends, removing herself from the situation. She left again, after she initially followed Buck back to Florida, where he abused and raped her in front of their son. It was through the second time when Tracey reached her tipping point, and was more set in making the separation permanent. In a similar vein as Karen, Stacey uses other experiences to remove herself from their relationships. Thi s experience came in the form of her mother leaving her relationship status came from advice that she had received from Stacy saying that her mother right. This role modeling caused Stacy to look at her own situation and see that Bobby did not treat her right, either. Had her mother not left her abusive boyfriend, it is likely that Stacy would not have left Bobby.

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61 Factors that Hinder Leav ing Abuse Drugging. In two of the nine films, the abuser used drugs on the abused. In Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? occasions. One instance is when he took her to a cabin for a vacation, and another is w hen she is almost finished packing her stuff to leave him. He gives her a drug laced drink as an olive branch to be just friends. Thinking it is simply a drink she accepted it. When she is drugged during this occasion he moves her to her family cabin, whic h is very isolated, as an attempt to make sure she would not leave him. Karen also is drugged by Denis. Yet, instead of using the drug to keep her from leaving him, he uses the chloroform which he has access to as a butterfly collector as a tool to make s ure she will still need him. He knew how much to give her to make her just sick and disoriented enough, that his support would be something that she would want. This attempt, ultimately, backfired on him, as she did not want him around. In both of these c ases, it shows how drugging can provide another hurdle to jump through if you are trying to leave an abusive situation. Using drugs was something that did not show up in the literature, which brings into question if this is a tool which is often used to ke films used to add suspense and drama. It would be interesting to look further into this, if only to fill in parts of the research which are lacking.

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62 Isolation. While this is an aspect which was found m ainly in psychological abuse, this isolation was a definite factor which hindered attempts made by the abused to leave. This was not only isolation from activities with friends or family, which many of the women experienced, this was also the isolation in physical location. Billy moved Laurel from her dorm on campus, to a secluded suburban house, and finally to her even more isolated family cabin. It was only after Laurel was still able to make it to class from the suburban location, after he tampered with her car, that he was resolved to move farther away. Mitch also secluded Slim. After and limits their access to travel more than short distances, and also helps limit the number of people that come in contact with their partner to either talk to or help them. Outside Factors No matter how hard the abused would plan their escape, there always arose outside factors which they could not fully control or plan for. Buck found out that Tracey was filling for divorce from a family service worker who was working in that ny called for Shane saying there had been a product recall on the GPS she had purchased. Martin found out two key details that Laura had never shared with him. The

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63 her symp athies to Martin. Upon asking how this woman knew Laura, she said they took swimming classes together, to his complete surprise. The second discrepancy Laura had told him sh e had. Instead, she had been moved to a different facility, a facility which was not known by the former assisted living home. It was through a phone call that Erin was outed as well. Erin had called the elderly neighbor who helped her, informing her sh e had found a safe place and was doing well. However, she did not expect Kevin to break into their house. Knowing that the couple was hiding information, Kevin listened to their saved phone messages, where he found the message/call from Erin. This number, call, led him to the diner Erin worked at, which was a good enough starting point for Kevin to find Erin. Most of these situations have those who are completely unaware of the severity of the abuse or situation letting in the abuser on a ke y piece of information. This reiterates that no matter how hush hush a divorce filling might be, or even a friend offering sympathies, any little unexpected thing may result in any and all careful planning on the part of the abused to go out the window. Wh ile there is not much literature investigating this aspect separation from their partner it is something that is being shown in many different ways as a primary obstacle of leaving. As such, it could be very easily something which is studied, as if this message is continually being shown and used, there may be something deeper within it.

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64 ` Work c onnection. This tended to be an issue uniquely for those in dating relationships. Karen, Laurel, Stacy, and Casey all were met with a perpetual struggle to leave their abuser through proximity. This struggle for Laurel and Stacy occurred because they went to school with their abuser. Not only were they forced to see their abusers every day, but their abusers knew their class s chedules and where and when they should be somewhere if they wanted to confront them. Karen and Casey ran into a similar issue worker. This constant and unavoidable contact makes it hard for the abused to separate from the abuser, and to stay professional in either school or work. The more the women tried to avoid the abusers, particularly in these situations, the angrier that the abusers got and the more they tried to get back tog ether with their ex partner. A clear separation from the abusers is necessary to sustain the abused leaving a relationship and not be under emotional stress from consistently having to face their abuser. Resources The lack of resources tended to be the primary reason which hindered women from leaving the abusive relationship. Where there was a range types of resources which could be lacked, financial resources were the most prevalent. In five of the nine films, the breadwinner had been the abuser. Both S hane and Erin only ever were shown as a housewife. Both Tracey and Slim started the movie with jobs, the former as a housekeeper and the latter as a server at a diner. After their marriages, both quit their jobs and assumed the duties of a housewife. Laura was unique in that she worked at the library. Yet, although it is assumed that while

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65 she may have earned minimal income while working there, Martin was the one who supplied everything for her. Dependency on the abuser for finances makes it very dif ficult to leave. To be able to buy a bus or plane ticket is impossible without cash to do that. It is not as if the abuser is going to supply the abused with money to leave them. Also, by not having a job, the reasons to leave the house along with the oppo rtunities to flee are limited as the abused does not always have a reason for being outside of the house. This lack of willing financial support by the abuser is demonstrated in Enough Slim is the only one of these women who originally attempted to use cr edit cards as a form of payment for hotels or transportation. This attempt became short lived, as immediately after her departure, Mitch not only canceled her credit cards, but froze the bank account she had access to. Strong ties with her ex coworkers all owed her not to have to return to Mitch. They her ex coworkers in various combinations, helped Slim and Gracie by buying plane tickets, renting hotel rooms, as well as supplying connections to their (her ex coworkers) extended families who lived out of sta te. Had she not had such generous friends, however, she would likely have had to return to Mitch. Advocacy resources for abused women was another resource which was lacking in these films. This could include shelters, information regarding how to leave a relationship given to the abused in the films, aftercare, or individuals helping them through the aftermath of the abuse. While No One Would Tell and Shadow of Fear end with on screen messages for the viewer for abuse and stalking resources, only A Cry for Help had the abused seeking help from a public defender to end her

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66 marriage. The film depicts the single public defender being extremely overworked. He told the room of about 10 to 20 women that he did not have time to handle all of their cases persona lly. Due to this lack of time, he would teach classes to help the women begin the divorce process themselves. The group setting did also show the audience that what was happening was not an isolated occurrence. While this film shows that sometimes resour ces can be scarce and not always available for people to use, sometimes individuals need to do some steps by themselves to initiate the process. However, the fact that other films especially those dealing with spousal abuse compared to dating abuse never r eally developed or explored the idea of women using shelters or other advocacy resources, is unfortunate. The only, incredibly brief, instance of someone considering those resources was Slim. However, when here friend mentioned going to a shelter, Slim not this fail to develop the other resources available to victims of abuse, but it also stigmatizes very helpful resources as being bad or lowly to seek help from. Other Ending and Aftermath Death of the a bused. Out of the nine films, only No One Would Tell resulted in the death of the abused female, Stacy. The film portrays her as being nave from her breakup with Bobby. Although she did not see the possibility of them being together, she sti ll believed that they could remain friends, despite how controlling he

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67 party to see him after they had already broken up he continues to display signs of jealousy and need of control within her life in front of his friends who do nothing to intervene. This control and jealousy peaks when Bobby takes her to their spot at the lake and, unable to convin ce her to get back together, slits her throat. Upon doing this he noted tha her go on living without him. It is worth mentioning that this is the only film which uses the ending dialogue to present a message to the viewer. In this message, it is noted that it is the ir the onlooker or bystanders of the abuse responsibility to report it. This is important as it may not be easy for the victim of abuse to fully realize what type of situation they are in or have the ability to speak out. This message from the judge, ultim ately, places blame for the death of Stacy not only on Bobby, but also on the friends and teachers who witnessed it and said or did nothing to help or intervene. It becomes a very powerful message not just to the characters within the film, but transcends to become a powerful message directed toward the audience. Death of the a buser. The married women represented the majority of this category. Over half of the films depicted a situation where the abused killed their abuser or, in one instance within Mother May I Sleep with Danger where Laurel believed she killed her abuser. The murder in Enough was initially intended as premediated self defense by life of [her] offs defense when she could

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68 Mitch attempted to kill her. As for Sleeping with the Enemy Past Obsessions and Safe Haven all of the women did kill their abused solely for self defense. While Slim is the only one of these women we see interacting with the police, albeit briefly, in the aftermath of hi s death. Of the women who had represented this category, it was only Tracey the film based on a true story who did not kill her husband to end the abuse. This is interesting to note that it was only within this film, which was based on a true story, where the only instance of not needing to murder the husband appears. This, compared to what the other films depict, tends to be more in line with the literature. The literature tends to note that women who murder their abusive husbands are more likely to go to jail longer than abusers who kill their partner (Purple Berets). Jailing of the a buser. This option was represented mostly by those who had been in dating relationships, with the exception being Buck from A Cry for Help. When Morgan finally made a legitima te threat he point blank threatened to kill Casey he was taken into custody. For Denis, upon being thrown from the car in a botched kidnapping attempt of Karen, with the ultimate goal of murdering her, he was arrested on numerous charges. Upon finding out that he had murdered Stacy, Bobby was arrested, held accountable in court and sentenced to life in prison. Similarly, after Buck nearly killed Tracey, and after the police managed to get a handle on the situation, he too was arrested. Of these, only No One Would Tell and

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69 A Cry for Help put any time into showing any type of court proceedings instead of just talking about what would or did happen in passing. Other than being one of the two films which showed a court ruling on the abuser, A Cry for Help pres ented an even more unique situation. While it did show No One Would Tell the county police department and the pr ocess that it took for her to be heard This could be because it was such a landmark case and resulted in many changes in how victims of abuse are to be treated and supported by law enforcement, based upon how truly neglectful they had been in regard to Tr Family and Friends The support, or lack of support, from friends was important in the success or failure of being able to leave the relationship. The support of friends is very important in leaving the relationship. It als o is very key in the assessment the abused might make of their own relationship. While Stacy is in the relationship with Bobby, there is a change in the opinion to get them together since Stacy would not approach him. However, as Stacy began to spend more time with Bobby, their friends voiced that they felt she was abandoning them. When the abuse initially began, some of her friends and friends came across as catty or jealous. After Stacy broke up with Bobby, she was

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70 going through the process of how to deal with the aftermath of the relationship. As a result, her best friend noted that if she is j ust going to keep talking about Bobby instead of moving on quicker after her break up she should just leave the party. While her friends had initially been supportive and there for her, when she began to defend Bobby or simply talk about her boyfriend, it grated on her friends and they withdrew their support. It was the event, at the moment of least friend support, which Casey, Karen, Slim, and Tracey all have a very strong informal support system consisting mainly of the ir friends get her out of the house, but fight for her rights when the law enforcement does not particularly want to deal with her stalking. When Karen is being drugged by Denis, her co worker, Alex, is more than willing to try and help her figure out what is going and later on her and CJ, in after Buck abuses her. becomes. in often, especially after her poor past relationships, constantly tries to sabotage any

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71 comes to seek help. Not only does she place the blame on Tracey for finding herself in an abusive situation, when she does not receive a pleasing answer as to what a offer, as her sister, to provide support or additional options as to what she could do; it is entirely blame filled. It is worth noting that financial independence and/or support, particularly support from friends and family, was a definite factor that made it possible for the abused to remove themselves from the relationship. Parents. A nearly universal commonality among the films was the lack of both parents which was the case with Casey, Karen, Erin, Shane, and Tracey or the abu sed women growing up without just a father figure seen with Slim, Stacy, and Laurel. While the lack of these parental figures is noted within the films, there is not particularly extensive research conducted on if women without parents, or a father figure, are more likely to be in abusive situations. For those who lacked simply a father figure, they may long for the positive male attention and be more prone to stay under this notion of the male providing protection to them. ot mentioned, but she does have a close relationship with her mother, Chole. However, despite this closeness to Chole, Chole is unable to provide any help. This is because Chole suffered from a stroke, resulting in blindness, and lives in an assisted livin g home in Iowa. Not only is there a great

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72 physical distance between the two at the start of the film, there are physical limitations as to how much support Chloe can realistically provide. If this is her only family, Laura is not in the position to rely on or ask for, help from her mother. This limits Laura even more on who she can go to if she were to leave. It also limits the ability for family to provide resources, both financial and/or housing, when they are unable to even provide for themselves. Whil e at the beginning of the movie Slim and her father, Jupiter, were estranged, he does provide financial support for Slim. Jupiter did not believe that Slim was his daughter and gives her $12 thinking she is just a homeless individual asking for money. Jupi or, perhaps, faked working with the FBI showed up and said they would kill Jupiter if he tried to help Slim. With this piqued interested, he sent not only a large sum of money, but also the promi se to send more later if she needed it. It was Jupiter who helped Slim trick the men following her, by hiring a woman that looked similar to Slim to switch places with her. This allowed Mitch to believe that she was in San Francisco for his staged custody hearing, although Slim was actually already inside his house. Both of these instances of support helped Slim greatly, and turned the tides in her favor. Had she not had this parental support, especially with Mitch monitoring her friends, she would have lik ely had no choice but to return to him. In ideal situations, parents should have a deep relationship with their child. In these instances, it can be sometimes harder for abusers to isolate the abused from their parents than it would be to separate them from their friends. However, if there are s trained relationships between child and parents, or the parents are no longer

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73 alive/not physically able to help, this isolation could be much easier for the abuser to obtain. The lack of parental figures could also result in limited financial or emotional support and increased difficulty for the abused to leave the relationship. Police and the Law Legal s upport. Only two of the films, A Cry for Help and Shadow of Fear showed the abused working, on a fairly consistent basis, with legal aid. This legal aid could either be law enforcement or lawyers. In Shadow of Fear, after dealing with an influx of abuse, Casey goes to the police department. When the police captain did not fully believe that the attention was unwanted, she was passed off to a detective. Thi s detective, while attempting to find out more about Morgan, kept having doors slammed in his face. These roadblocks gave the detective even more drive and determination to figure out not what those doors were hiding, but also to find a way to stop Morgan. This constant support and help from the detective, not only gave Casey hope that there was an end in sight, but it also gave her validation of the wrongness of the experience. This validation for her stalking is one of the few instances, among any of the films, where the abused has their abuse acknowledged as wrong. In A Cry for Help the support she received was mixed, although we will currently focus on the support she received. Tracey could get restraining orders with the help of the lawyer. After she suffered her horrendous attack, it was a lawyer who approached her and told her that she had been failed by the legal system the police department. As a result, her case became a landmark legal case which

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74 influenced many of the rules surrounding arresting abusers, particularly in marital situation. Although the vast majority of the film showed the incompetence of the police department, the lawyer approaching her as it had for Casey validated the experience as something which should not have happened. The l egal support in both instances gives the audience a view that there are measures and people in place to be able to help victims. While not all instances may be dealt with easily, there are individuals in place to provide a check and balance. Police protec tion and legal h urdles. Despite the fact that both A Cry for Help and Shadow of Fear showed some highlights how the legal system has developed as implied at the end of A Cry for Help and at its best should be helping victims of abuse, these films, along wi th most of the others, show truly how the system has failed many of the women. Six of the nine films showed the abused either being married to a cop ( Safe Haven ) or the police doing little to help her when advice or support was sought from them ( A Cry for Help Enough, Intimate Stranger Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?, and Shadow of Fear ). Especially in the latter case, it showed how lack a trust from both sides the abused and the law enforcement was extremely strained. For Slim, when she sought help fro m the police, they told her that because she had a child it was a matter for family courts. They also said that while she could get a protective order which would only protect her, not Gracie. They also noted that if Mitch would go to jail and make bond wh ich would be easy for him she would just need to call them, but would still have to deal with a very angry Mitch until they got

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75 there. As a result, she did not report her abuse which was noted toward the end of the film, as working against her. Since she d id not receive helpful information, initially, her entire experience was skewed and she had very little trust in the efficiency of the police had she reported the abuse. associations she left, her husband put out an APB for her being a murderer, even though she was not one. Once she found out about the APB, her trust in the law enforcement to be able to provide sup port, diminished even more. Even after she had begun to settle into her new routine in town, when a cop approached her or she saw a police officer she became jumpy or all but fled. Tracey is, perhaps, th e one who was most failed by law enforcement From th e beginning when she was seeking help she ran into roadblocks. Some of the roadblocks included: the police informing Buck about what protective orders Tracey was attempting to obtain; the police telling Tracey after Buck kidnapped their son, CJ the only wa y she would get CJ back would be if she went to an enraged Buck, being held in a holding cell, and not only talk him down but get back together with him; not arresting Buck although he is barred from the state of Connecticut, although they frequent the din er at which Buck worked; and the police seeing her issue as a lower priority than other crimes. This indifference reaches a peak when an angry buck comes to the house. It took over 15 minutes for the police to show up after Tracey called for Buck breaking his restraining order. When the solitary policeman arrived, he pulls into the driveway to find Tracey had been stabbed. Upon getting out

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76 of the car, instead of detaining Buck, he takes the knife, tries to detain the wrong man, watches Buck kick Tracey, and it is only after the other officers and ambulance arrive, that he restrains and arrests Buck. Admittedly, A Cry for Help was based on a true story and resulted in many changes because of how poorly the police behaved. That being said, the presentation of how the police failed her is very striking. Karen is consistently told that the police are just following protocol, but whenever Karen askes for addition support noting that cases like this generally do not end well for the victim they note that there is really nothing more that they can do. It is not until after Denis kidnaps her with the intention to kill her that they finally believe her story and put him behind bars. In Shadow of Fear emails and th unexpectedly showing up behind her and following her, she is the one charged for assault. This depicts a lag between departments. That is, while there are departments which are geared towa rd stalking, the rules and regulations of the primary legal system are not as neatly defined as they could be. This causes the police to act quicker for physical victimization which could protect abusers compared emotional or mental victimization of the ab used. While these are films, and films generally thrive on the creation of drama, establishing drama from a source which is in place to protect the victims of abuse is very problematic. It gives the viewer the idea that the police will either not suffic iently be able to help them, or perhaps not even believe the victim that abuse is occurring.

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77 This could very easily result in both the abused and friends of the abused not seeking help from this source. As a result, it could cause a domino effect where the abused may seek to take matters into their own hands. It also could give an abuser ungrounded leverage to psychologically manipulate the victim. That is, the abuser could say that no one would believe the victim, but here is some proof that they do not ev en believe victims within film. Relationship between Abused and Abuser When it comes to the relationship between the abused and abuser, t here was a split among the women. Five of the women Erin, Laura, Shane, Slim, and Tracey were married to their partne r. It is also noteworthy to mention that although Tracey was in the processes of a divorce, none of the other women either divorce or attempt to divorce their spouse prior to attempting to end and/or fleeing the relationship. Three women Karen, Laurel, and Stacy were in a dating relationship with their partner. Only one individual, Casey, had not been in a definite relationship with her attacker and was simply a co worker. This had been a slightly different case itially the police were under the impression that they were in a relationship, al though they were never more than workplace acquaintances. It is interesting to note how there were many differences presented between these two types of films. While not univ ersally, overall those who were in a dating relationship were less likely to murder their abusive partner in comparison to those who were married. This coincides with the males in dating relationships having a

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78 much higher rate of being jailed. Tied with b oth points is how women who were only dating the abusive partner often sought help from the police. Again, while it was not universal, this had been a very common separation between those married to, and those simply dating, their abuser.

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79 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The goal of this paper is to look at abuse through the lens of media to examine what claims they are portraying about IPV and how it is either supported or not supported by the literature. By examining this, it could allow both the media to better represent victims of abuse, and those within abusive relationships could see feasible choices and outcomes represented within media. While this research may not be able to speak to all films surrounding IPV it might at least be able to create a starting point for future research or developing a starting point within the discourse of the topic. This research also would be able to give agencies that provide resources a better understanding of potential expectations the abused may have. Mu ch of the literature surrounding the abusers was very in line with what had been depicted within the films. This included aspects such as the cycle of abuse, the presence of jealousy, and the use of children against the abused However, there is very limit ed research which examines the abuser. As a result, there may even be more parallels between real life depictions of abuse and film depictions of abuse that may not be noticed because it simply has not been studied. For example, perceived image of the abus er how they look, how their house looks, how they act in the presence of others was common within nearly half of the films. This commonality may be indicative of some understudied pattern; there may be an overlap between the film versions of abusers and re al life abuse, but more research needs to be conducted.

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80 The literature reports that of 235 women who were in interviewed in prison, 44% were there for murdering their spouses or significant other. Of that 44% of women, 96% reported the presence of abuse wi thin that relationship. On average, 2,000 women are in prison for killing their abusive spouse, but that number does not fully compare to the 1,000 to 4,000 women who are killed by their partners each year (Purple Berets). With the odds of the woman who ty pically is also the abused being murdered at eight times more likely than the man who typically is the abuser it would be expected that more of the films would show the death of the abused. It is also important to note the nature of the film industry. With in the film industry, there tends to be a primary focus on certain segments of the population. This segment of the population tends to consist of mostly white individuals. While there is an ever growing demand for films to depict people of color instead of relying on all white casts it is slow in coming. Films also tend to depict struggles such as, supportive person after abuse as coming very easily. In reality, the depicted ea se of obtaining financial support/independence, or finding a good partner in the shadow of abuse not supported by the literature. Films, often, are used as an escape from reality and may not want to show the darker side of abuse. Yet, by not depicting peop le of color, larger age ranges showing individuals in their late 60s being abused, for example and depicting the ease of leaving are not helping the perceptions surrounding abused individuals. If anything, the failure to deal with the subject stigmatizes t he abused individuals even more. Changes cannot happen

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81 within the film industry overnight, however there are many changes which need to occur. Limitations and Future Research Sample and c oding. A limitation of this study was that it did not consider diffe rences in standards among different types of films. Although looking at different types of films those made for Hollywood compared to those made for TV films the differences in standards between these types of films may have affected the frames constructed Generally, TV films have more freedom to include messages which are explicit, whereas Hollywood films tend to rely on implying messages. These differences could, in part, be because of budget as those geared toward a movie going audience will be better f unded than those geared for TV audiences. Also, the budget and subsequently the studio might be more apt to adopt a formula containing a love story or a dramatic climax, versus telling a true story, to get the highest return for their investment. It would be worthwhile in future studies to examine these differences within the film industry and the effect on messages. While there initially had been the goal to try to gather a diverse sample of films, it was not possible due to primarily the price of alternate films or availability beyond TV that is, not all films surrounding this topic which were shown on TV were available on DVD or YouTube to include. Also, some films which were made for TV surrounding IPV were not airing during the study t o be taped and, subsequently, included It would be interesting to include a more diverse range of films to investigate if they tended to follow what the literature indicates around abuse

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82 or what the films depicted as guidelines. Also, comparing a larger sample of films which were racially diverse might help develop a different picture which could allow us to examine if different narratives are being told to different racial groups surrounding the topic. As there had only been one researcher coding the fil ms for content, the inter rater reliability (Niveau, Lacasa, Beclaz, and Germond 2015) which examines the agreement among researchers who are coding the same material cannot be determined. Attempts were made particularly watching each film multiple times t o find all instances of the codes however, having only one coder is still a limitation. While this is a limitation within this study, it also offers an opportunity for future research where multiple coders could be used Abused and l overs. These films al l focused on and followed the woman as This is mirrored very much within the literature. In the future, it would be worthwhile to investigate the abuser to see why they abu se. While this research did not uncover any such films, it would be interesting to see if in the future a film develops where it primarily follows the abuser instead of the abused. As with the abusers, this presented idea of having lovers so quickly afte r leaving an abusive situation is not something which was examined within the literature. This could be because it is not common within real life situations which is likely because women who are abused often either return to their abuser or find another ma n who ends up being abusive toward them. However, in the same vein, it

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83 may be occurring within real life situations and the women just are not approached to discuss their very positive experience. It would be an interesting aspect to examine further, never theless. Mental i llness. While mental issues appeared only within one film, it is somewhat interesting to note. This is not a substantial amount of literature which has examined mental illnesses within abusers of IPV While Shadow of Fear had been the onl y film where the intensity of the relationship between abuser and abused had Toward the later parts of the film, the audience learns that Morgan should be taking medication to counter his paranoid schizophrenia. His father, when approaching Casey at the end, not only attempted to paint Morgan as the victim due to his illness, but that Casey may have initially led him on which caused his illness to influence his behavior. This aspect of mental illness p rovides an interesting variable. I f the abuser is suffering from an illness, can he be held accountable for their actions? It is something that is seen a lot within mass shootings, where the perpetrator pleads father noted simply as her receiving attention which any woman wants. Nevertheless, while there is not a signifi cant amount of research looking at the mental stability of the abuser, it would be interesting to investigate further, to see

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