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Panels to raise awareness of coercive control in relationships

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A panel discussion hosted by the Women's Resource Centre will consider the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships (Image supplied)

Campaigners will raise awareness about coercive control in relationships at two panel talks within the next two weeks.

The Women’s Resource Centre has invited residents to a virtual discussion about relationships on Thursday and speakers from the UK will join members of the One Love Foundation for an event at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on April 12.

Tina Laws, the WRC executive director, said: “As the leading women’s organisation in Bermuda, our aim is to meet the ongoing needs of the women in our community.

“Believe it or not, one of the most challenging realities for women today are relationships – unhealthy relationships.

“The intention is to raise a greater awareness around unhealthy relationships and to help develop healthy or healthier relationships.”

She added: “For many, unhealthy relationships aren’t just between intimate partners, they also exist in the workplace, social settings and amongst each other in our community.

“When we are better informed, we do better.

“As we continue to work closely with other organisations and foster collaborative relationships, our intention is to help women and families to build healthier relationships.

“While we are a women’s organisation, this discussion will be beneficial for all.”

Luke and Ryan Hart will talk about the dangers of coercive control at a panel talk on domestic violence (Photograph supplied)

The panel will include a domestic violence liaison officer from the Bermuda Police Service, a representative from the Centre Against Abuse and two survivors.

Laurie Shiell, the executive director of the Centre Against Abuse, thanked the WRC for hosting the talk.

She said: “CAA will be speaking on behaviours that fall under abuse, and will be focusing on coercive control.

“We will also be providing tips on how survivors can maintain their safety and regain their power.”

Patricka Ferguson, a WRC partner, added: “We want to stop the potential traumatic outcomes that are often linked to unhealthy relationships and the best way is to bring awareness of what a healthy relationship looks like and the signs of an unhealthy one.

“Education and awareness is the first step to making a change.”

Luke and Ryan Hart, who have delivered presentations to thousands of people across 12 countries, will talk about growing up with coercive control at the BUEI session next month.

The event is part of work by Tammy Richardson-Augustus, a One Love Foundation ambassador, to bring relationship health education to the island.

Tammy L RichardsonAugustus JP, Abuse advocate (Photograph supplied)

She said: “Coercive control is a subtle yet dangerous form of abuse that is present in almost all cases of domestic abuse.

“A singular focus on violence can obscure the reality.

“Abuse takes many forms, some that do not necessarily involve direct physical assault and some that lead to or are accompanied by physical violence.”

The Harts’ mother and 19-year-old sister were shot dead by their father, who then killed himself, in Spalding, in Lincolnshire, England, in 2016.

The brothers will talk about life before and after the tragedy and highlight the red flags that can be missed or misunderstood.

They said: “We’re grateful to have the opportunity to create a positive legacy for Mum and Charlotte and to help others with their story.

“Coercive control is incredibly complex. Even as victims, we didn’t understand what was happening to us.

“This isn’t uncommon because coercive control is often designed to disorient, destabilise and confuse victims, eventually destroying our state of mind and ability to make sense of what was happening to us – referred to as ‘perspecticide’.

“While coercive control may at times seem subtle, its harms are not – we were reduced to hostages in our home, permitted to exist only if we obeyed our father absolutely.

“Mum and Charlotte were never allowed a life, long before our father took their lives.”

Katie Hood, CEO One Love Foundation (Photograph supplied)

Katie Hood, the chief executive officer of One Love Foundation, a US non-profit organisation designed to end abuse, said: “We often ignore, diminish or miss the early signs of unhealthy behaviours – possessiveness, isolation and other methods of control – in the relationships of the people in our lives that lead to these tragedies.”

Ms Richardson-Augustus added that the group was “incredibly grateful” that the Hart brothers will deliver their keynote speech in Bermuda.

Police officers, members of the judiciary, teachers, counsellors, paediatricians and charity representatives were among the people asked to attend the invitation-only event.

* The WRC event can be attended via Zoom from 6pm on March 31, meeting ID: 362 507 4757; and passcode: 500854947. For more information about Ms Richardson-Augustus’ work, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published March 28, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated March 28, 2022 at 8:52 am)

Panels to raise awareness of coercive control in relationships

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