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Family Law

Psychological Subjugation: The Elusive Form of Abuse

Mental health and legal professionals must devote more resources to studying the interpersonal dynamics of subjugation that is accomplished without resort to physical force, and the implications of these dynamics for the appropriate adjudication of custody/access disputes.

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In 1959, French & Raven, writing on The Bases of Social Power, began by stating: “The processes of power are pervasive, complex, and often disguised in our society.” In 2016, just shy of six decades later, Crossman, Hardesty, & Raffaelli published an article titled: “‘He Could Scare Me Without Laying a Hand On Me’: Mothers’ Experiences of Nonviolent Coercive Control During Marriage and After Separation.” Both French & Raven, in alluding to processes of power that are disguised, and Crossman, et al., in addressing nonviolent coercive control, have emphasized a form of interpersonal abuse that has received inadequate attention. Mental health and legal professionals must devote more resources to studying the interpersonal dynamics of subjugation that is accomplished without resort to physical force, and the implications of these dynamics for the appropriate adjudication of custody/access disputes.

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