Anger Resources - Videos Depicting Control, Shame, Anger and Abuse
The movie title links to its description on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com). These movies often can be viewed online at NetFlix.com or Amazon.com Alternatively try MoviesUnlimited.com (1-800-4MOVIES). Also try doing a search with Google or your favorite search engine, and you may come up with an entry to watch the entire film online!
Battered (1978) starring Karen Grassle, Mike Farrell, LeVar Burton, Howard Duff, Chip Fields, and Joan Blondell (Hearst Entertainment)
This video presents a tale of three different couples of different ages, backgrounds, and circumstances where domestic abuse is occurring. One is Mike and Susannah; Mike is an attorney whose life is filled with work, family, and lifestyle pressures. The second is Andy and Ginny, a younger African-American couple; Andy is a construction worker with dreams about being an inventor and having a better life who vents his frustrations with his job and his life on Ginny, especially when he drinks. The third is Bill and Edna, an older couple (Edna’s daughter, Doris, from Edna’s first marriage, is also involved with an abusive man, Len, who comes to get Doris at the couple’s home and is arrested for DUI); Bill is a negative and cynical postal worker who despises his job and drinks heavily to try to forget it, making Edna a frequent target of his drunken rages. The verbal and physical abuse escalates in all three families and Susannah and Ginny make the decision to leave their marriages to go to a a battered women’s shelter (where they get to know one another and become friends). Ginny eventually returns to her marriage after Andy gets involved with chemical dependency and domestic abuse treatment and Susannah makes the decision to end their marriage after Mike is unwilling to pursue therapy for himself to address the domestic abuse issues. Edna eventually endures a brutal assault by Bill due to his increased anger about her calling the police and his being arrested for an earlier assault, which leads to her death and Bill getting arrested again and charged with the assault leading to her death. Bill, as he sits by her bed in the hospital when she is dying says, “Why didn’t somebody stop me.” Mike and Andy both offer good examples of the apologies and “hollow promises” that abusive men often make to their partners to try to get them to re-connect with them after an abusive incident has occurred. Susannah also illustrates the emotional damage that is done to women in abusive relationships when she tells a friend that she “feels like a zero.”
Black & Blue (1999) starring Mary Stuart Masterson, Anthony LaPaglia, and Sam Robards (MPI Media Group: The true Stories Collection)
The story of a New York City detective, Bobby, who is very controlling, emotionally and verbally abusive, and physically violent with his wife, Frannie, an emergency room nurse, throughout their 12-year marriage. Eventually, she contacts a domestic abuse advocate and flees to Florida with their son to set up a new life. There, she develops friendships and a relationship with a new partner but their son misses his father, calls him, and the detective shows up at her apartment, where he physically abuses her once again and then disappears with their son for five years. She begins a new life with her partner, has a daughter, and then is overjoyed when her son calls to re- connect with her five years later. The video offers excellent examples of what abusers say to their partners (e.g. “You look like a slut; do not leave this house looking like that;” Bobby apologizes for his violence on one occasion by telling her “I love you so much, it makes me crazy; I hope you’ll forgive me for loving you so much.”
The Burning Bed (1984) starring Farrah Fawcett, Paul LeMat, Richard Masur, and Grace Zabriskie (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
The real-life story of Francine Hughes, who set fire to her house and her ex-husband, Mickey, who was drunk and “passed out” in his bed in March 1977, after years of horrendous control, emotional and verbal abuse, violent beatings and relentless stalking by Mickey after repeated attempts by her to get away from him. Francine met Mickey when she was a teenager, married him and had three children with him, and divorced him and left him on numerous other occasions. But she was drawn back into their relationship when he was involved with a car accident where he almost died and she returned to serve as his caretaker during his recovery, in large part, because of intense pressure from his parents to return to him. After the last time she leaves, he tells her he has “stopped drinking” and says the he “is going to church” and blames his abusive behavior on his past alcohol use (a classic excuse for battering that some abusive men offer). The video shows clear examples of controlling behavior (e.g. his refusing to allow her to go to college by destroying her college papers and books) and graphic examples of verbal abuse and physical violence, including a horrendous scene on March 9, 1977 (the night he was killed) when he chokes and brutally beats her. Francine was arrested and charged with murder but was eventually found not guilty “by reason of temporary insanity.”
The Color Purple (1985) starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, and Oprah Winfrey (Warner Brothers)
The powerful story of a African-American woman (Celie) who grows up in the early decades of the twentieth century in the rural South. She is forced into a marriage with a man (Mister) who womanizes, isolates her from her long-lost sister (Nettie), and controls her in every way imaginable, including being emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive with her. She eventually leaves him, re-unites with her sister, and goes on with her life, while he becomes more and more depressed and isolated.
A Cry For Help: The Tracy Thurman Story (1989) starring Nancy McKeon and Dale Midkiff
The true story of a Torrington, Connecticut woman, Tracy, who gets involved with and marries a construction worker, Buck, who is controlling and emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive with her. She leaves him on two occasions after he has been violent with her (including one time when she tells him that she is pregnant with their child; he later says (about the first violent incident), “I don’t know why I hit you; I thought it was someone else’s kid.” But he follows her from Florida to Connecticut and stalks her, continually violating the restraining orders she has taken out to try to protect herself from him despite her doing whatever she could to get the police to arrest him. Eventually he stabs her repeatedly and stomps on her head and neck when she is lying helplessly on the ground as the police and bystanders who are present do nothing to intervene. Buck was sentenced to 20 years in prison and she hired an attorney to sue the police department and the city of Torrington for violating her civil rights. 24 of the 29 police officers in the department were held liable for her horrific injuries and her significant disability that arose from the attack and future medical expenses she might incur. She was eventually given an award of 2.3 million dollars (which was decreased to 1.9 million dollars after an appeal by the city). A law in Connecticut known as the “Thurman Law” was passed shortly afterward, requiring the police to treat domestic assault as they would any other violent crime. Her situation is a powerful example of an utter failure by the “system” to protect her despite her frequent and ongoing attempts to protect herself by calling the police and attempting to use the legal system as it was intended to be used in domestic violence situations.
Dangerous Intentions (1994) starring Corbin Bernson and Donna Mills (The Kushner- Locke Company)
This video tells the story of a battered woman (Beth) married to an architect (Tim) who is controlling, emotionally and verbally abusive, and physically violent with property and with her. The situation escalates when she leaves him after a violent incident to live with her father and step-mother and her husband comes there to “talk her into coming home” and then brutally beats her, leading to his arrest and a court order where he is placed on probation and has to attend a batterers’ group. Beth eventually goes to a battered women’s shelter and Tim continues to stalk her until he finds her at her apartment and terrorizes her by threatening to kill her and their daughter, after which he is arrested and is incarcerated once again. The video does a good job of being clear about what battered women say to themselves (e.g. “Nothing I do pleases him,” “I kept thinking it was my fault;” “I can’t just give up on him;” “I wish I could have helped him”), what batterers say to their partners (“See what you make me do;” “I am nothing without you;” “You’ve got to take some responsibility”), and what those around the battered woman often tell them about their situation (often blaming her for the abuse that is occurring).
Doing Time On Maple Drive (1992) starring James B. Sikking, Bibi Besch, Jim Carrey and William McNamara (20th Century Fox)
A story about the powerful impact of years of secrets and lies on two generations of a shame-based family headed by two rigid, controlling, and shaming parents, Phil and Lisa. This video opens when the “favorite child,” Matt, a high achiever and a Yale student (who also happens to be gay, unbeknownst to his family and friends), returns home to plan his upcoming wedding to his fiance, Allison. Matt’s brother, Tim, flunked out of school and is a “screw-up” and now works at his father’s restaurant and ends up drinking too much to assuage his emotional pain. Their sister, Karen, is married to Tom, but they are struggling in their careers and financially and, although they want to have a family, Karen is fearful about getting pregnant due to how she believes her parents would react to their doing this (she tells Tom, “Do you realize what my parents would say if I got pregnant?”).
Phil shames Tim at every possible opportunity (e.g. telling Tim to shower after work “to get rid of the alcohol smell;” hitting a tennis ball at Tim after they have lost a tennis match and declaring that Tim “didn’t try;” and saying to Tim, “Thank God I have another son.”) Phil also has his own secrets and, after Phil has told his bartender not to serve Tim any more alcohol at the restaurant, Tim confronts his father about “paying off the health inspectors” in order to continue operating his restaurant. The tension in the story mounts when Allison finds a card in Matt’s jacket from his friend, Kyle, (who ,for three years, was Matt’s gay lover); Matt had ended their relationship eight months prior. Allison confronts Matt’s dishonesty with her about his relationship with Kyle and about who Matt really is and says to Matt, “we can’t do this.” Matt promises that he “can change” but Allison tells him, “I can’t go through with this just because your parents are going to be upset with you,” and she makes the decision to call off their planned marriage and abruptly leaves his parents’ home where she has been staying.
Matt then lies to his parents about why she has gone and what has happened. Matt continues the facade by having his bachelor party at his father’s restaurant, where his father, his brother, and his friends congratulate him and celebrate who he is and what everyone still believes will be his upcoming wedding. Matt leaves the party feeling overwhelmed and depressed and makes the decision to attempt to end his life, crashing his car into a telephone pole. He is badly injured but he does not die. Matt lies about the accident, telling others that he “swerved to avoid hitting a deer;” his mother asks his doctor if Matt was drunk, but the doctor says that he was not intoxicated. Matt finally does tell his sister that Allison has called off their marriage, but asks her not to share that information with anyone else. Matt also tries to talk more honestly with his mother about what is going on but she abruptly leaves his hospital room, preferring not to know.
In the meantime, Tom receives a phone call from a doctor that Karen is seeing. Karen lies to him about the call but Tom investigates further by calling the doctor and finds out that Karen is pregnant and is planning to have an abortion, without talking with Tom about this major life decision. Matt finally tells a good friend, Andy, that he intentionally drove his car off the road and also lets him know that he is gay. His friend responds in an encouraging and supportive way by saying, “We’re friends no matter what” and “You’re the best friend I ever had.”
Matt’s mother finds the note that Allison had left for him, sits alone crying, and then confronts Matt about the marriage being called off by saying, “How dare you embarrass your father and me. The invitations have already been sent out.” Matt responds to her by saying, “I tried to kill myself because I’m gay.” Lisa then orders him to call Allison and tell her that he “made a mistake.” Emotions escalate and Tom then confronts Phil about the dysfunction and hypocrisy in their family, telling Phil that he “almost lost a child;” that his daughter, Karen, was planning to have an abortion; and that his other son is “a drunk.” Phil goes to talk with Matt, asking him if he really meant to kill himself and then asking him, “Did you really think we’d rather have you dead? I wouldn’t.” He asks Matt to make a promise to him that he will not attempt suicide again.
Phil, at that point, goes in to talk with Lisa, whose first question to Phil is whether Matt is going to call Allison. She then says, “Are you going to let him humiliate us? It’s about us. I’ve spent my entire life sacrificing so my children can have a future…can be something.” Phil responds by asking her, “Do you love your children, Lisa?” to which she reacts by exploding in anger, proclaiming, “It’s all a lie” (which, to some extent, it actually has been). Lisa then proceeds to smash pictures and memorabilia in their family room that they have accumulated over the years. Matt makes another attempt to connect with his mother, apologizing for “wrecking the car” and “hurting myself;” Lisa reacts by saying, “I don’t know how anyone can choose to be like this?” Matt tells her, “I didn’t choose this; I am this” and leaves the kitchen where they have been talking.
Karen also tries to talk with Tom at this point about her secretive decision to end their pregnancy by saying, “It’s my body” and telling him, “I don’t want to go behind your back” to which he replies, “but you did.” It is only then that she becomes more vulnerable and more honest with him when she says, “What if I end up being like her (i.e. my mother)?”
Matt finally reaches out to Kyle and asks “to get together for coffee…because I really need to talk to you.” At the end, Matt also re-connects with his father, who struggles with the issue of Matt being gay, talking with Matt about “God hating homosexuals, homosexuals being ‘unnatural,’ and about “homosexuals going to hell.” Matt tells him that what he is saying “isn’t factual.” And eventually Phil begins to hear him and soften, saying “I’d rather you be ‘normal’ but, whatever you are, you’re my son” and then shares with Matt that “Alexander the Great was homosexual.” Matt responds by saying, “I love you, dad” and Phil replies, “I love you too, son.”
This powerful reckoning scene near the end of the story triggers the point, at long last, when all the family members begin to talk more openly and honestly about the unhealthy and shame-filled dynamics of their family system and the destructive effect it has had on their thoughts and behaviors in both the past and in the present.
Duel (1971) starring Dennis Weaver (Universal City Studios)
A traveling salesman does something on the highway to offend the driver of an enormous tractor trailer truck, which leads to some terrifying road rage incidents where the salesman is followed and nearly killed by an unseen and completely anonymous truck driver. The salesman is never able to figure out what he has done that has so enraged the truck driver who almost kills him.
Enough (2002) starring Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Julietter Lewis, and Dan Futterman (Columbia Pictures)
A working class waitress, Slim, marries a customer, Mitch, a successful and wealthy construction contractor, who appears to be the “man of her dreams.” But she then discovers, after the birth of their first child, Gracie, that he has had multiple affairs during their brief marriage. She confronts this behavior but he states that his current affair is “not important” and apologizes to her. However, she catches him once again and he responds by telling her, “I make the money; I set the rules” and lets her know that he expects to be able to have affairs and also says, “I refuse to live without you.” From that point on, he becomes possessive, controlling, and emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive with her. She talks with her mother and a good friend, Ginny, who tells her to go to the police. Slim initially refuses to do this. Eventually, she goes to the police to talk about a “friend” who is in an abusive relationship and is frustrated by what she hears and starts to believe that no one is there to protect her and her daughter from Mitch’s abuse. She finally makes the decision to flee with her daughter after another violent incident, with help from some friends, whom Mitch threatens to kill as they are trying to assist her. She begins to move around to stay away from him despite his sending a police officer friend of his and men the officer has hired to stalk her. She is finally able to find an residence for herself and her daughter but Mitch finds her there, tells her “If I can’t have you, nobody will,” and physically assaults her again, after which she flees once more. This story does a good job of demonstrating the abuser’s sense of entitlement and the dynamics of domestic abuse in a relationship but the ending becomes melodramatic and unrealistic as Slim uses her recent self-defense and martial arts training to break into Mitch’s house and overcome him in an actual physical altercation (which she has sought out to try to end the terror that she feels and the belief that he will never let her go with their daughter).
Escape from Terror: The Teresa Stamper Story (1995) starring Adam Storke, Maria Pitillo. Brad Dourif, and Cindy Williams (Cosgrove/Meurer Productions)
This video, based on actual events from the “Unsolved Mysteries” television program in the 1980’s, tells the tale of an estranged husband (Paul), who has been emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive throughout his relationship with his Oklahoma wife (Teresa). This story begins when Teresa applies for and gets a receptionist position with Paul’s oil field service company. They eventually start to spend time together; she sees him as “one-of-kind” and “a perfect man” at the beginning of their relationship. There are some early warning signs, however, as Paul becomes jealous and possessive almost immediately, firing an employee who “looks at her” in the office. In February 1983, they get married in Las Vegas after only five months. The first violent incident occurs when Paul hires a new receptionist without talking to Teresa, who is upset that he has done this. He justifies what he has done by telling her, “You’re married now; you don’t need to work” and also says, “I don’t need to ask permission from anyone to do anything.” Their argument escalates and he slaps her in the face, telling her, “What you don’t do is ‘talk back.’” Teresa then leaves him and returns to her mother’s home but Paul comes there, telling Teresa, “I was completely wrong; I’m not like that” and “I’ve never been like that before.” She tells him, “This can’t ever happen again” and he responds, as many abusers do, by saying “Never again.” Two years later, they have a daughter (Katie) but Paul’s life is “going downhill.” He is “gone a lot” and Teresa finds out that he is now using drugs and stealing pump motors from oil pumps in order to generate business for his company, which leads to another violent incident where he yells at her and grabs her at a bowling alley. Soon after that, when they are on a date, Teresa discovers that he is injecting drugs in a bathroom where he once again physically assaults her. She goes to the hospital and talks to the police, who tell her that they cannot arrest him because they “did not see the assault occurring.” She again returns to her mother’s home and Paul calls and threatens her, telling her, “If you take Katie from me, I will get rid of you.” Paul then shoots through a window at her mother’s home and Teresa, worried that he will kill her, hires an attorney, files for divorce, and gets a protective order. Paul responds by telling her, “I don’t want to live if I can’t have you” and “You divorce me, you die.” Paul becomes more and more obsessive and then starts to stalk Teresa, following her and her new boyfriend, Chris. Eventually, pretending that he is a police officer, he stops them in their car, and ends up shooting Chris and kidnapping Teresa, telling her, “If I can’t have you, my life is over; do you want to die with me?” She is able to get away from Paul when they stop at a restaurant, after which she calls police; Paul leaves the car they were driving and takes a bus to Wichita, Kansas, and the police stop the bus and finally arrest him. Unfortunately for Teresa, Paul escapes from jail with assistance from a former cellmate and “goes on the run.” But he also continues to stalk Teresa, watching her with Chris, stealing keys from her, breaking into her home in Norman, Oklahoma, and leaving a note and flowers for her. The FBI eventually becomes involved with the case and, when Paul sends Teresa another letter, asking her to meet him at a bowling alley, she “wears a wire” to meet with him but he calls her there, telling her once again, “I could kill you.” Five years later, Teresa has moved to Tennessee and Paul continues to stalk her, calling her at a birthday party and telling her that he is “still around.” At this point, the situation is brought to a TV program called “Unsolved Mysteries” and several calls come in about Paul (he has now changed his name to “Gary”), which leads to his arrest in Commerce City, Colorado, after which he is sentenced to 35 years in prison. This video demonstrates the absolute terror that many abused women experience long after they have attempted to leave the relationship with their batterer. It also highlights the obsessive and controlling thought process that leads many abusive men to stalk and harass their partners long after their partners have left.
Every 9 Seconds (1997) starring Amy Pietz, Gail O’Grady, Christopher Maloni, and Michael Riley (Hearst Entertainment)
The story of an investigative reporter (Carrie), who grew up in an abusive family where her father beat her mother to death and then killed himself, and who goes undercover at a women’s crisis phone line to research an article on domestic violence. In her work on the phone, she becomes involved with two battered women. One woman (Janet) is the wife of an insurance executive (Richard), who is just returning from an 18-month prison term for brutally beating her with a golf club. Richard returns to their home, flagrantly violating an “order for protection” that is in effect, and demanding to see their young daughter, April, whom Janet has taken to her sister’s apartment to keep her away from her father. Janet is terrified that he has come back and talks with Carrie on the hotline about wanting to kill him when he becomes violent again to stop his abusive behavior with her which, in the end, she is unwilling to do. Richard’s ongoing verbally and physically abusive behavior with Janet escalates, culminating in his threatening to kill her and Carrie, who has tried to intervene to keep Janet safe from Richard, and then his threatening to kill himself by jumping off a roof. The police become involved and he is finally arrested and taken away by them, telling Janet and April as he is leaving, “I’m sorry.” The other young woman is a 16-year-old (Missy) who is flattered to be going out with an older man (Greg) for the past two months. However, Greg is jealous, continually pressuring Missy to have sex against her wishes, and he becomes emotionally, verbally and physically abusive with her. Eventually, Greg takes Missy to a secluded spot, tries to force sex again, and physically assaults her so badly that she ends up in the hospital, “barely alive” according to the doctor who is treating her for her injuries.
Fear Strikes Out (1957) starring Anthony Perkins, Karl Malden, Norma Moore, and Adam Williams (Paramount Pictures)
The story of Jimmy Piersall, a major league baseball player, who experiences a “nervous breakdown” during a baseball season, in part due to his father’s shaming, controlling, and overbearing attitudes and behaviors directed at him both as a child and as an adult.
The Great Santini (1979) starring Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, and Michael O’Keefe (Warner Brothers and Bing Crosby Productions)
A story about Colonel “Bull” Meechum, an ace Marine fighter pilot, modeled after author Pat Conroy’s father, who is a warrior without a war to fight in 1962. In the video, he expects his children to behave in the same way that he expects his soldiers to behave (in his own entitled and grandiose way, he tells his pilots to think of him as “God” as he is meeting them for the first time in a new assignment). He then acts out his own insecurities and self-doubt with his wife and children through his disrespectful anger, his abusive and violent behavior, and his intense desire to control everyone in the family. This is best exemplified by a “pick-up” basketball game with his adolescent son that starts as a “fun family activity” and ends with his son winning the game and Bull exploding at everyone in the family due to his underlying fears about being beaten by his son and “getting old.” It also includes a powerful scene between the son and his mother after this basketball game, where his mother “explains away” and minimizes Bull’s abusive behavior toward their son by making statements like, “Your father does what he does because he loves you and wants you to be the best.”
Holding Patterns: One Look At Violence In the Home (1986) (Perspectives Family Center) This video gives us a glimpse of male-to-female battering in two different families. It also provides us with a look at the “alcohol connection” in one of the families where the battering is occurring. The video was developed and funded by Perspectives Family Center in St. Louis Park, MN in 1986 and produced by the Wilson Learning Corporation. The script was taken from an original play by Susan Galbraith. It shows the gut-wrenching and terrifying reality that exists when male-to- female domestic abuse is occurring and offers us insight into the dynamics involved with this abuse. This video was adapted in a video format by Perspectives Family Center, St. Louis Park, MN and the Johnson Institute, Mpls., MN. The video is available from Perspectives Family Center and includes a 58-page training manual.
I Never Sang for My Father (1970) starring Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas (Columbia Tristar)
This video tells the story of a father, Tom, who was driven, shaming, and abusive with his two children because of his own tormented youth (and his father’s irresponsibility, alcoholism, and abuse directed toward him) and his 44-year-old son, Gene, a college professor, who has never really been able to truly separate from his father so that he can live a life of his own. The film culminates with a powerful confrontation between Gene and his father about Gene’s desire to move away to California and marry the woman he loves who lives there. For the first time in his life, Gene is able to let go of his unrealistic sense of obligation to his father, stand up for himself, and assert himself directly and honestly with his father despite his father’s attempts, even at that point, to manipulate, shame, and control him to try to keep him from being with the woman he loves.
If Someone Had Known (1995) starring Kellie Martin, Kevin Dobson, and Linda Kelsey (MPI Media Group: The True Stories Collection)
The story of a young woman (Katy) who is “swept off her feet” by a man (Jimmy) who looks good to everyone around him but becomes controlling, emotionally and verbally abusive, and physically violent with her in their relationship, exacerbated by her having their first child and his jealousy that she is no longer as focused on him as she has been in the past. She does not talk about the abuse she is experiencing with her family or anyone else and it continues to worsen until she is pregnant with their second child and Jimmy threatens to kill her. At that point, she makes the decision to end his life to protect herself and her children. She is arrested and charged with murder and pleads “not guilty” while using the “battered women’s syndrome” as a defense. The video shows graphic examples of the intensity and intimidation in a battering relationship and the fear that many battered women experience about actually sharing what is really going on for them in their relationships with their partners with the other people in their lives.
It’s Not Always Happy At My House (1987) (Phoenix Learning Group)
This educational video is designed to help children who experience domestic abuse in their families understand the feelings and reactions they experience as a result of witnessing or becoming victims of the abuse that is going on around them. It tells the story of a family where the father, Don, is controlling, verbally abusive, and physically violent with his wife, Kate, while his children listen from their bedrooms, terrified at what is occurring. Megan, one of their daughters, tries to comfort and take care of her mother after one violent incident and their son, Josh, calls police after another violent episode where Don punches Kate in the face when she is holding their infant daughter. After the second incident, Don is arrested and Kate takes her children to a battered women’s shelter, where the children participate in a support group to address and try to work through the confusing feelings that they are experiencing (e.g. one of the children in the group blames her mother for the abuse that her father has perpetrated, which is relatively common for children to do).
Mommie Dearest (1981) starring Faye Dunaway, Steve Forrest, Diana Scarwid, and Howard da Silva (Paramount Pictures)
The story of the relationship between movie star Joan Crawford and her adopted daughter Christina from a best-selling memoir by Christina, which tells a tale of Joan’s insecurities, alcohol binges, and emotional, verbal, and physical abuse of her daughter.
Muriel’s Wedding (1994) starring Toni Collette, Bill Hunter, Rachel Griffiths, and Jeanie Drynan (Miramax Films)
The story of a young woman (Muriel) from a very dysfunctional and unhealthy family which includes a powerful scene in an Asian restaurant, where her small-time politician father (Bill) is shaming and demeaning with Muriel and her siblings.
No One Would Tell (1996) starring Fred Savage and Candace Cameron (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment)
An adolescent girl, Stacy, falls for and gets involved with a high school “hunk” and “all-star” wrestler, Bobby, only to discover later that he is, in fact, very controlling and verbally and physically abusive with her. Bobby becomes increasingly possessive and jealous, stating “I want you all to myself.” His violence also escalates, going from grabbing her to throwing her against a wall to slapping her on numerous occasions while he blames her for his violent outbursts (e.g. “Why did you have to get me so mad”). Her mother and her friends see bruises on her body but she “covers” for him and denies that Bobby has been physically abusive with her. Stacy eventually attempts to break up with Bobby but he apologizes to her and tells her “I could never give you up.” Bobby continues to pursue her, meeting her at a bowling party, and says he will drive her home but instead goes to a park and ends up murdering her, telling a friend who has driven with them, “If I couldn’t have her, nobody can.” Stacy’s friends worry that Bobby “has done something to her” and, in the end, the friend who accompanied them to the park tells police about the last time he saw her alive and Bobby is found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Once Were Warriors (1994) starring Rena Owen, Tamuera Morrison, and Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell (Fine Line Features)
A husband (Jake) and his wife (Beth), both Maori, live in a housing project in New Zealand, surrounded by poverty, gangs, violence, and alcohol and drug abuse. They have been together for 18 years and struggle with his alcohol binges and the emotional neglect and verbal and physical abuse he perpetrates with her that follow when he drinks. Jake prides himself on his muscular physique (his nickname is “Jake the Mus”), his arrogant and aggressive attitude, and his ability to fight other men (and his wife). He has become a sad caricature of the strong and proud Maori warriors of the past. The story begins with Jake losing his job and “going on the dole.” Beth is worried about “how they will make ends meet” and Jake complains that she’s “got to fucking spoil everything” when he tries to be sexual with her and she rejects his advances after he has informed her about the loss of his job. Jake then leaves to go to the bar to drink with his “mates,” gets in a fight with another man, and returns home with his friends to party into the wee hours of the night. Jake and Beth appear loving with one another at first but, when Jake tells Beth to cook eggs for a friend and she refuses, Jake brutally beats her, telling her “you do what you’re fucking told,” and then throws her on the bed and rapes her. She wakes up battered and bruised the following morning and is unable to attend the court appearance of their son, Mark, which leads to his being taken from his parents and sent to a social welfare residence to live. Jake gets up in the morning, is frustrated that Beth does not accept his “apology” for the assault, and tells her “You’re too bloody ‘lippy;’ that’s your problem” and “I told you, when I get like that, get out of my way.” Beth and Jake plan a trip to visit Mark at the social welfare residence, but Jake ends up back at the bar again, wanting to have “just one drink” but then drinking heavily with his friends and refusing to go to visit their son. Jake comes home from the bar to party once again at their house and one of his drinking buddies goes to the bedroom of their daughter, Gracie, and rapes her while the party is going on, blaming her by saying she “turned him on” by coming out to the party in her nightgown. Their daughter leaves their house and is gone for an extended period of time and Beth says to Jake “I’m not going to take this anymore,” telling him that there will be “no more parties.” Jake responds to this by screaming back at her. Eventually, Gracie returns home and her father and his friends are partying at the house once again. He then becomes abusive with his daughter, grabbing her and pulling her down and ripping up the book she is writing because she has been gone so long. Gracie then exits out the back door and hangs herself from a tree in the backyard. She is found by her mother, who makes the decision to take Gracie to her ancestral home to be buried. Jake refuses to attend the funeral (he feels insecure and uncomfortable around her extended family because their ancestors were royalty and warriors in the Maori tradition and his ancestors were slaves). Beth, after the funeral, reads Gracie’s diary and discovers that she was raped by Jake’s friend. She then goes to the bar, where Jake is again getting drunk with his “mates.” He becomes verbally abusive with her, and she confronts his friend who raped Gracie, giving Gracie’s diary to Jake to read. Jake then brutally beats his friend and screams at Beth as she leaves him for the final time, telling her “You’ll be back; you need me.” At this point, Beth leaves him for good and Jake walks back into the bar. The video shows graphic and brutal physical assaults by Jake against Beth and the physical and emotional damage that this abuse creates in Beth and in their relationship. But it also demonstrates her connection with him at times (e.g. when they are being playful, singing together when they are drinking, and having fun with one another), which has kept her “stuck” in this dysfunctional and damaging battering relationship.
Ordinary People (1980) starring Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler-Moore, Timothy Hutton, Elizabeth McGovern, and Judd Hirsch (Paramount Pictures)
This powerful story focuses on a “normal” suburban family that experiences a gut-wrenching tragedy when the older son (Buck) dies in a boating accident with his brother (Conrad). This video begins 1 1/2 months after Conrad has returned from a psychiatric hospital where he spent four months after attempting suicide. Conrad is a “tortured soul” who struggles with anxiety, low self-esteem, insecurity, anger, the overwhelming belief that he is responsible for his brother’s death, and his equally strong belief that his mother “hates” him for what has happened. In addition he is shamed by his swimming coach for undergoing ECT in the hospital and and when he asks Conrad, “Why do you want to keep messing up your life” when Conrad decides to quit the swimming team. The ongoing emotional turmoil in this video centers around the mother (Beth), whose older son was her “favorite,” and who is unable and unwilling to allow herself to truly grieve the loss of Buck and connect with Conrad in any meaningful way after Buck’s death. She is “stiff” and “superficial” in her interactions with Conrad although she appears to be a “cheerful homemaker” whom “everyone loves” when she is around others. She feels embarrassed that Conrad was hospitalized and that he is currently seeing a psychiatrist (Berger). She disconnects throughout the movie whenever anyone tries to talk about the accident and their loss and refuses to go to counseling as a family when Calvin suggests that they go in to see Berger as a family, telling Calvin, “Don’t try to change me; I’m me; this is my family” and then encourages Calvin to go away with her over New Year’s because “we need time together” (without Conrad). A dramatic turning point occurs for Conrad when a friend he had known from the hospital (Karen) suicides, he frantically calls Berger to meet with him, and finally talks honestly and openly about the intense guilt he feels about his brother’s death (“We should have come in when it started to look bad” and “I was supposed to take care of him (Buck) and he let go of me (and drowned).” When Berger asks him “the one wrong thing he did” to cause his brother’s death, he responds by saying, “I stayed with the boat; I hung on.” He then blames himself for Karen killing herself and Berger says, “When are you going to stop punishing yourself?” This catharsis leads Conrad to make another attempt to connect with Beth when his parents return from their vacation, and he hugs her when he says goodnight as she stares wide-eyed and blankly over this shoulder. The movie culminates in a powerful scene where Calvin, crying downstairs in the middle of the night, finally stands up to his wife. He becomes assertive about what he is seeing and his concerns about her behavior with Conrad, and directly confronts her rigid, guarded, and distant attitude (“You’re so cautious;” “I don’t know if you’re really giving; “You need everything neat and easy” ) and the obvious shaming that she is doing to their remaining son through her unwillingness to make any effort to connect with him emotionally. This leads Calvin to realize, at long last, that Beth is truly incapable of really giving emotionally of herself to him or to their remaining son, and he tells her, “When Buck died, you buried all your love with him; I don’t know who you are, and I don’t know if I love you anymore, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without that.” Beth again rebuffs Calvin’s attempt to talk openly with her about their relationship, the loss of their son, and their life together; walks to their bedroom; experiences a “rush” of emotion which she almost immediately squelches; packs her suitcase; calls a cab; and leaves to go to her parents’ home. Conrad wakes up when he hears the cab pulling away from the house and goes to the backyard to ask his father about what is happening. Calvin tells Conrad that his mother is “going away” and Conrad once again blames himself for her leaving, which his father confronts directly by saying, “Sometimes things just happen.” It is at this point that this father and son really make a connection with each other, as Conrad tells his father that he loves him, and Calvin tearfully responds, “I love you too.”
Portrait of Abuse: An American Epidemic (2007) Documentary (AMS Production Group) A documentary overview about the reality of domestic abuse with stories of domestic abuse told by battered women in their own words with graphic descriptions of controlling behavior, emotional and verbal abuse, and physical violence in their relationships with their abusive partners. In addition, battered women’s advocates, therapists and psychiatrists who work with domestic abuse, police officers, and an abusive man are interviewed about the dynamics of domestic abuse. The video also includes cultural influences related to domestic abuse and examples of movie clips that demonstrate situations where domestic abuse is occurring.
Rape and Marriage: The Rideout Case (1980) starring Mickey Rourke, Linda Hamilton, and Rip Torn
A video that portrays the events surrounding the infamous 1978 husband-wife (John and Greta Rideout) rape case in Oregon that tested the 1977 law making rape a crime in Oregon even if the couple was married. The movie opens with John quitting his job and going back to school to get his high school degree but when he shirks his responsibilities related to doing this, he proclaims, “I’m the man and I can do whatever I want.” John has a history of jealousy and fights with other men; a liking for “rough sex” with Greta, and a desire to do “threesomes” with her and other women, and a history of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse with her (they have separated two times previously in their four-year relationship). Greta says she is “miserable” and a friend encourages her to get some counseling, after which she goes to a crisis center where the counselor suggests that she leave John. Soon after this, John demands sex from her, saying “You’re mine and I want you now.” This leads to Greta refusing to have sex, running away from him, hiding in a laundry room, his disabling their car so she is unable to drive away, and John finally catching her in a park (telling her, “Do you want me to beat you up and rape you right here”). He then brings her back to their apartment, where he physically assaults and rapes her. Greta wants to file rape charges against him and goes to the police, who tell her to “wait a couple of days because women change their minds” (Greta does, in fact, have “second thoughts” about filing charges, telling a friend, “I’m all alone without John”). John tells the police that “she hit me first,” but he is arrested for first degree rape and goes to trial (even though one of Greta’s co-workers tells her that their boss will fire her if she pursues rape charges in their small town). One of John’s attorneys says that Greta “has serious sexual problems” and talks about her “sexual fantasies” regarding a woman friend of hers (the judge in the case allowed her past history to be brought up in court). Greta eventually takes the stand and describes the assault and the rape, saying the John threatened her by saying that he would “smash in my face if I didn’t hug him,” that he “punched me in the face two times,” and that he choked her so that she “couldn’t breathe.” When she asked John, at the time he was assaulting her, “Why are you doing this,” he responded by saying, “You don’t understand; I love you.” John testifies after Greta has testified, saying that, “I hit her harder than I meant to” and “I didn’t mean to do it” but he tells a completely different story about their having sex, saying “She wanted it then” (i.e. after the assault so that they could “make up and feel close again”). John is eventually found “not guilty” of the rape charge. After the trial, John calls Greta and asks to meet with her, apologizes to her for “all you went through.” She then gets in his car, where John promises “to never be like that again,” they start to make out in the car, and they then decide to reconcile. They do, in fact, end up getting divorced in April of 1979 (four months later). Six months after they break up, John was arrested for breaking into Greta’s apartment and ended up going to jail. The movie highlights the notion of “male entitlement” (one of John’s attorneys says that “sex is a man’s privilege” [i.e. if he is married to a woman]) and the idea that, for John (and for many men), sex is the primary way to connect with a partner and their “love” for their partner is often used as an excuse to be abusive with her.
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1994) starring Joe Montegna, Laurence Fishburne, Joan Allen, Max Pomeranc, and Ben Kingsley (Paramount Pictures)
The story of a young boy (Josh) who is a chess prodigy and the shaming and control he endures at the hands of his prickly and shaming tutor (Bruce) whose “win at any cost” mentality flies in the face of the boy’s emotional and sensitive nature.
Shattered Dreams (1990) starring Lindsay Wagner and Michael Nouri (StudioCanal Image S.A.)
The true story of John and Charlotte Fedders, from Charlotte’s book of the same name (written with Laura Elliot), that talks about their life together through John’s work as a Wall Street attorney and as “top cop” of Ronald Reagan’s Securities and Exchange Commission (the publicity surrounding their divorce and his abuse toward her forced him to resign from this position in 1985) and the control, abuse, and battering that she experienced throughout the course of their marriage. The video offers a very clear example of the “cycle of violence” in the first violent incident that occurs in their marriage, demonstrating the escalation phase where tension in John and in their relationship rises, John’s explosion when he slaps Charlotte in the head and breaks her eardrum, and the deception phase where John cries and begs her to return home, promising her “this will never happen again” (in fact, he perpetrates six other significant physical assaults against her in their 17-year relationship before she finally makes the decision to leave him). After this first violent incident, her mother blames her for the abuse by saying to her, “What did you do or say to make him react so violently” and her father, also a controlling man, orders her to “tell him you want a divorce” to which she replies “I’d never find a man as good as John.” Charlotte talks to a priest about the physical abuse, who counsels her to “look to heaven for real answers” and then says, “Go home and love this man.” Charlotte asks John to get help for them as a couple and for himself as well, but he refuses to do this. Charlotte’s parents, her sister, and her friends are all aware of the ongoing abuse and become frustrated with Charlotte for not leaving John. She eventually sees a therapist on her own who tells Charlotte, “There are laws against domestic assault.” It is at this point, after another violent incident where John grabs the children to force them to finish the snow shoveling they have begun and then slaps Charlotte when she attempts to intervene, that Charlotte makes the decision to get a divorce, which was final in 1988. A disturbing footnote to this movie: John received a 25% share of the royalties for the book Charlotte wrote. Domestic Relations Master John McInerny stated that, since the book is about John and contains a wedding picture with him in it, he was entitled to part of the profits. McInerny went on to say that “Overall, the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties has got to be on an equal basis.”
Sleeping With the Enemy (1991) starring Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, and Kevin Anderson (20th Century Fox)
This video, particularly in the first 20-25 minutes, portrays a successful financial planner, Martin, who is rigid, compulsive, jealous, very controlling, emotionally and verbally abusive, and physically violent in a upscale battering relationship and also demonstrates the humiliating, demeaning, and terrifying atmosphere in which his battered wife, Laura, lives. He is demanding about the dress he expects her to wear to a party they attend; he is compulsive about how the towels are placed in the bathroom and and how the food is arranged in the kitchen cupboards; and he is rough and aggressive in their sexual relationship, with no interest in what might be pleasurable to her. After he feels “humiliated” when a neighbor mentions that Laura was looking out their window at him, he slaps and kicks her and later comes home with flowers and a new dress, telling her “I’m sorry we quarreled;” he then changes her dress and has sex while she stares blankly at the ceiling. Laura eventually “fakes her death” while boating in a storm with Martin and their neighbor and the video also clearly demonstrates the careful and methodical planning necessary for a woman to leave a battering relationship which Laura undertakes to get away from her abuser. To prepare herself for her exit, she learns to swim at a local YMCA despite her intense fear of being in the water, she breaks two beach lights near their home so she can find her way to their home from the boat at night, she cuts her hair and puts on a wig to disguise herself, she pulls out a bag she has packed and hidden in their home, and she then flees on a bus to a small Midwestern town to start over again. Martin initially believes she has actually died, but a friend of hers from the swimming class calls to express her condolences and he becomes suspicious, returning to their vacation home and finding her wedding ring in the toilet where she attempted to dispose of it and then realizes that she has, in fact, left him. He hires investigators to track her down, locates her through her mother who is in a nearby nursing home, and eventually shows up in the town where she is living. He continues to stalk her there until he finally appears at her home, saying “I can’t live without you” and threatening her with a gun, and physically assaults her one last time before she is able to get the gun from him and shoot him.
Sling Blade (1996) starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh, and John Ritter (Miramax Films)
The story of a mentally disabled man (Karl) who, after being released from an institution for killing his mother and her lover, comes to live with a woman (Linda) and her son (Frank). The woman’s boyfriend (Doyle) is entitled, shaming, hostile, and abusive, particularly with his partner’s son.
This Boy’s Life (1993) starring Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, and Leonardo DiCaprio (Warner Brothers)
This video is based on a memoir of the same name by author and professor Tobias Wolff, which presents a “coming-of-age” drama of a rebellious teenager. Toby, whose mother, Caroline, has a history of bad relationships with partners. Her relationship with Toby’s father has ended five years earlier when the story begins and she has just left another man (Roy) who has been physically abusive with her and she has driven cross country from Florida to Utah to get away
from him. Roy follows them to Utah and Caroline then goes to Seattle. Toby starts smoking and hanging out with “the wrong crowd” and Caroline starts dating a new man, Dwight, whom Toby doesn’t like and pokes fun at with his mother and her friends. Toby’s bad behavior escalates and he is suspended from school for two weeks and Caroline, overwhelmed by his “acting-out,” sends Toby by himself to live with Dwight so Dwight can “straighten him out.” In a powerful example of an abusive incident, on their ride to Concrete, Washington, where Dwight lives, Dwight terrorizes and intimidates Toby in the car by speeding, driving recklessly and swerving back and forth on the road, calling Toby a “hot shot” and a “liar,” confronting Toby about his “performance” imitating Dwight’s behavior, and telling him “I’ll pop your head like a zit” and “I’ll break every bone in your body.” Eventually Caroline and Dwight get married and Dwight says to Toby “My job is to turn you around; kill or cure.” Dwight also becomes controlling with Caroline (he tells her on their wedding night that he doesn’t like face-to-face sex and says, “It’s my house and I get to say what happens here”). From this point on, Toby endures ongoing verbal abuse (e.g. “Shut you God damn pie-hole”) and numerous physical assaults by his overbearing, tyrannical, and abusive stepfather for various infractions (e.g. taking Dwight’s car without his permission, leaving the top off the toothpaste tube, throwing a mustard jar into the trash with mustard left in it). Toby tells his mother, “I hate it here” and she responds by saying, “I know you don’t believe me now but it’s the best thing. You have to try to concentrate on the good stuff.” Eventually, however, Toby gets into a prep school on the east coast and Dwight is verbally abusive with Caroline when she attempts to defend Toby during another one of Dwight’s physical assaults on him, screaming at her that she is a “whore.” It is, at this point, that Caroline finally makes the decision to leave Dwight as Toby is going away to school.
Unforgivable (1996) starring John Ritter, Harley Jane Kozak, Kevin Dunn, and Susan Gibney (CBS Television Network)
Based on a true story, this video offers the story of a controlling and emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive man (Paul Hegstrom) who lives with his wife of 17 years (Judy) and their three children. He works as a successful “high-pressure” car salesman who is plagued with a negative, cynical, entitled, and aggressive attitude toward his life and marriage. His life begins to unravel as his job performance suffers, the woman with whom he has been having a long-term affair (Beth) “breaks up” with him, and he becomes violent with his oldest daughter, Tammy, pushing her to the floor with her head hitting the woodwork when she attempts to call the police during one of his “rages.” At this point, he leaves his family and goes to live with Beth, lying to her about “filing for divorce” from Judy. He then is fired from his job (telling Beth that he “quit”), gets another job (which he quits), and tries to reconcile with Judy when he is drunk and is taken away by the police. Soon after this, he also becomes violent with Beth, slapping her multiple times and pushing her through a glass shower door after which she goes to the hospital with significant injuries, ends their relationship, and demands that he go through a batterers’ treatment program or face “attempted murder” charges related to his assault of her. He goes to the domestic violence program, does little to participate in the process early on, is confronted by the other men in the program, walks out of the group and quits the program, but comes back and asks permission to rejoin the group after he is close to committing suicide. This leads to his being much more willing to truly look at himself and he begins to understand and actually change his controlling and abusive attitudes and behaviors. He makes several attempts to re-connect with his children (he is never able to re-connect with his daughter, Tammy) and Judy and is finally clear with them about what he has done and takes clear and unequivocal responsibility for his abusive behavior. He
completes the domestic abuse counseling program and he and Judy do, in fact, re-marry and he goes on to develop domestic violence treatment programs for other abusive men in the United States and Europe. This film offers clear examples of the entitled and controlling attitudes that abusive men hold (e.g. criticizing her for “cutting coupons;” his talking about “all the free time I give you”) and is one of the few videos that shows this sort of positive outcome for a man who has been abusive with his partner.
What’s Love Got to Do With It? (1993) starring Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and Jennifer Lewis (Touchstone Pictures)
This video is the story of Ike and Tina Turner, adapted from and loosely based on Tina’s autobiography (with Kurt Loder), I, Tina. It chronicles the history of their professional and personal relationship, starting with Ike meeting Tina when she is an adolescent living with her mother. He becomes her mentor and lover, as they become more popular and successful as songwriters and singers. Gradually, the domestic abuse escalates, particularly when Tina begins to come into her own as a singer and entertainer and she starts to take more of the “show biz” spotlight than Ike, who then feels more and more inadequate and envious of her success as a result. Ike abuses alcohol and cocaine, flaunts an endless series of girlfriends in front of her, attempts to control Tina’s personal and professional life (e.g. You’re gonna sing like I tell you to sing”), and perpetrates vicious verbal abuse and violent beatings on Tina throughout the course of their relationship. At first, she justifies his explosive outbursts (e.g. saying “He’s got a lot of pressure right now”). But Tina ends up leaving Ike for the first time and sneaks away with the children, taking a bus to her mother’s home. Unfortunately, Ike finds out where she is (in a phone call with her mother) and comes to get her and the children when the bus makes a stop. He then pressures her to resume the tour they were taking and their life goes on together. At one point, Tina overdoses and goes to the hospital, returning home to Ike partying with other women and then complaining to her about the medical bills she has incurred as a result of the hospitalization. A good friend introduces Tina to Buddhist practices and Tina starts to become stronger and more sure of herself, even fighting back physically when Ike assaults her in a limousine. It is at this point that she leaves him for the final time, fleeing to a Ramada Inn, where a manager there gives her a room despite that fact that she has no money. She finally divorces him in 1977 and her only request in the divorce settlement is that she be allowed to keep her stage name. She goes on to a successful solo career but Ike still makes several attempts to pressure her to return to him telling her, “I made you. Your weren’t nothing without me. You won’t be nothing without me.” Ike eventually tries to intimidate her by threatening her with a gun in her dressing room but she “calls his bluff” saying, “What are you doing to do? Shoot me?,” and then walks out to the concert she is about to give, leaving him alone for the last time.